Arrow's Definitive 4K of 'Donnie Darko' Deserves Every Superlative Thrown its Way

by Sam Cohen

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday May 7, 2021

There's already a ton of literature out there covering the deep impact that Richard Kelly's "Donnie Darko" made, and continues to make, on pop culture. It was one of the first cult films of the early aughts, and it breathlessly detailed the malaise and uncertainty at the heart of suburban teenage life at the time. But even more than that, it's an accomplished low-budget work that catapulted Kelly into Hollywood, where he would continue to craft intelligent, thought-provoking, and incredibly resourceful films that still elude simple categorization. With Kelly, the truth of life is stranger than fiction. Or rather, stranger than science fiction.

Arrow Films upgrades "Donnie Darko" to 4K Ultra HD with a limited-edition release that deserves every superlative thrown its way. Rather than just carry over special features and the already stellar transfer from their previous Blu-ray release of the film, Arrow have loaded this new release with even more to enjoy. Plus, the all-new 4K presentation, sourced from a new 4K restoration of the original 35mm camera negative, is bolstered by Dolby Vision HDR encoding, resulting in a very organic look with deep colors and a remarkable level of detail. Both theatrical and director's cuts of "Donnie Darko" are included in this new set, as well.

Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is your typical American teenager living in suburban Virginia. The only problem is, he's best friends with an imaginary anthropomorphic bunny named Frank (James Duval), who curses Donnie with visions of the apocalypse. More and more supernatural events occur, resulting in Donnie racing against time to find out how to stop the end of the world.

It's mesmerizing seeing a movie like "Donnie Darko" get the 4K treatment, as the budget was very low and Kelly couldn't afford all of the expensive special effects his story had baked in. But if this new Arrow edition proves anything, it's that Kelly's talent behind the camera extends well beyond flashy effects sequences. He's one of the few filmmakers that can get swept away in the interior life of his characters' minds but never lets that detract from the heart of the story. Even the most bewildering plot twists have the grace of an accomplished filmmaker.

In addition to most of the special features carried over from the previous Arrow Blu-ray release, this new 4K edition offers double-sided postcards, a folded poster, and sturdy slipcase to house it all in. It's a pleasing package for an otherwise perfect release. If you're a fan of the film at all, I recommend you run to get this before it sells out.

The new edition's special features include:

• New 4K restorations of both the Theatrical Cut and the Director's Cut from the original camera negatives by Arrow Films, supervised and approved by director Richard Kelly and cinematographer Steven Poster
• 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentations of both cuts in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
• Original DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• 100-page hardcover book featuring writing by Nathan Rabin, Anton Bitel and Jamie Graham, an in-depth interview with Richard Kelly, an introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal and contemporary coverage, illustrated with original stills and promotional materials
• Double-sided fold-out poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece
• Six double-sided collector's postcards
• Limited Edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Luke Preece

Disc 1 - The Theatrical Cut

• Audio commentary by writer-director Richard Kelly and actor Jake Gyllenhaal
• Audio commentary by Kelly, producer Sean McKittrick and actors Drew Barrymore, Jena Malone, Beth Grant, Mary McDonnell, Holmes Osborne, Katharine Ross and James Duval
• Deus ex Machina: The Philosophy of Donnie Darko, a documentary by Ballyhoo Motion Pictures on the making of Donnie Darko
• The Goodbye Place, Kelly's 1996 short film, which anticipates some of the themes and ideas of his feature films
• 20 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary by Kelly
• Trailer

Disc 2 — The Director's Cut [4K UHD Blu-ray]

• Audio commentary by Kelly and filmmaker Kevin Smith
• The Donnie Darko Production Diary, an archival documentary charting the film's production, with optional commentary by cinematographer Steven Poster
• Archive interviews with Kelly, actors Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Drew Barrymore, James Duval, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Holmes Osborne, Noah Wyle and Katharine Ross, producers Sean McKittrick, Nancy Juvonen, Hunt Lowry and Casey La Scala, and Steven Poster
• Three archive featurettes: They Made Me Do It, They Made Me Do It Too and #1 Fan: A Darkomentary
• Storyboard comparisons
• B-roll footage
• Cunning Visions infomercials
• Music video: Mad World by Gary Jules
• Galleries
• Director's Cut trailer
• TV spots


"Donnie Darko" is now available on 4K Blu-ray from Arrow Films.

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