Donnie Darko - The Director's Cut (spoilers)

I ran a search and didn’t see a Donnie Darko thread about the new version that came out on DVD last week; I only just watched it tonight. What do you all think?

(spoilers below)

I thought it was pretty much what I expected – a combination of the original movie with the content from its Web site (particularly, the text of the book Donnie gets). But I think all that does is give you an insight into what was motivating Donnie; it doesn’t exactly make the movie less confusing.

Overall I enjoyed it but I had one big issue with it:

[spoiler]On second or third viewing of the original version, once you know Cunningham is a pedophile, you might notice that when Donnie is shown his motivational video in gym class, Cunningham grabs the behind of the boy in the video. Knowing Cunningham’s secret, you realize that the gesture is likely more sinister than a simple congratulatory slap. It’s a split-second thing, very easy to miss, so you feel proud of yourself for noticing it.

Well in the new version you’re told to “Pay close attention or you might miss something” at the end of the first scene where Donnie watches the video and in the second, you hear a very loud SMACK when Cunningham gropes the kid. What was once the subtlest detail of the movie is now the most blatant. And I’m not sure doing so really adds to the movie, since there wasn’t an equally blatant indication that Donnie notices it.[/spoiler]

On the other hand, that eyeball thing kinda grew on me. Whatever fits…

What do you folks think?

I love the “real” movie, but I really dislike the director’s cut (I don’t even remember the Jim Cunningham thing, although that sounds awful). It tries to explain too much about a movie that doesn’t and isn’t really supposed to make sense. Plus, I think the added stuff just screws up the pacing.

Much prefer the original cut.

I question your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

I never saw the original, but I really liked the director’s cut, fwiw.

It’s pretty clear to me at this point that the greatness of the original version is a happy accident not likely to be repeated.

If there’s one thing I like about the director’s cut, it’s the addition of a scene between Donnie and his father where his father tells Donnie he realizes that Donnie is smarter than the rest of Middlesex. Although the movie makes that clear already (particularly with that thing about antiseptics and how easily that answer comes to him), it’s refreshing to see not only that some of the other characters see that quality to him, but that at least one person is comfortable with telling him about it.

I too like the added scene with Donny and his father. While I don’t think think the addition of the book text adds, all that much (It may help those who didn’t understand the original or clear some questions up), I really enjoyed the expanded scenes. I think changing the opening song from “The Killing Moon” was a huge mistake.
I don’t see why people have a problem understanding this movie. It is supposed to make sense, it does make sense, and I think the director’s cut is an effort to make it’s points even clearer. And to soak this movie’s fans for another 20 bucks.
FWIW, this movie is hugely popular with my boy’s junior high crowd. However, many of them do not believe there was a band called Echo and the Bunnymen.

Me three. The only addition that actually helps the film.

I can’t say I remember what they used originally, though I do remember thinking “Did they use INXS last time? I’d think I’dve noticed.” I imagine they used the song for the lyric “Two worlds collided”.

For me, the original film is as poignant as it is because not everything is quite explained; your reaction to the movie is similar to the various characters’ during the “Mad World” montage–did what I think happened really happen? Does it mean what I suspect it does? Its impact lies in its ambiguity, and by over-explaining everything, the power of Donnie’s actions are diluted, IMHO.

Like Fiver, I haven’t seen the original, but I watched the new DVD last Friday night and that scene didn’t ruin anything for me. I was still surprised – but it’s entirely possible that I’m just not all that bright. :wink:

I really liked the movie, but now I’d like to see the original sometime to compare (when enough time has passed that all of the details aren’t fresh in my mind). I didn’t realize just how much stuff had been added to the director’s cut: if I’d known, I would have tried to watch the original version first.

I’ve been thinking about this and there is one more thing that bugs me about the director’s cut - the scene where the class is forced to write “They Made Me Do It” on the chalkboard. In the original version, they showed the principal and the police calling out names and in the director’s cut, the camera stays on Donnie, who is so nervous it looks like he’s about to jump through the ceiling.

Not only is it over-acting on Gyllenhaal’s part, but it makes clear something that I don’t think the original ever did - that Donnie knows he’s guilty of flooding the school. It’s something he did in a sleepwalking state, and the only time he ever admits to it, he’s under hypnosis. While he’s clearly aware of Frank after his interactions with him, it’s not clear that he actually knows the extent of what Frank is making him do.

But like I said, overall the director’s cut isn’t that bad; there are some good additions to balance out the bad ones.

(Although something else that bugs me is the scene on top of which they pasted the second chapter of the book - Gretchen asking Donnie about a cut on his neck. They must have had no other footage to use; I got the impression that the scene in the bathroom would have been days ago).