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Donnie Darko critique


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Donnie Darko movie critique


Donnie Darko is a 2001 horror movie that was written and directed byRichard Kelly. The leading actors include Jake Gyllenhall (Darko),Maggie Gyllenhall (Darko’s sister) Katharine Ross and DrewBarrymore. The producers are Nancy Juvonen and Adam Fields. Theproducing studio is Flower Films.


The main message of the movie is to communicate the humanunderstanding of God, life and death. The symbols used are Frank (torepresent death), the jet engine (to represent Darko’s fate) andparallel universe to represent life after death. The moral of thelesson is that every human being has his or her own understanding oflife and death, and that no one determines the other’s ultimatedestiny. The film, therefore, touches on the importance of religionand self-realization.


One of the most memorable scenes is the opening scene. Beginning fromthe opening titles, the audience establishes that it was a sci-fimovie. The director and editor used black and old fashioned font, aswell as thunder from the background, giving the scene a feel ofhorror. The director’s approach to this scene elicited some fear inme. In movie production, thunder and darkness stir fear by playingwith the audience’ psychology.


The scene where Darko and his girlfriend are in a dark cinema is oneof the best edited in the movie. The distant shot of Donnie and hisgirlfriend elicit a feeling of segregation and seclusion. Thedirector uses life-like shadows on the walls of the cinema hall,which produces the feeling of being surrounded by the unnatural world(death). A slow zoom on Donnie’s girlfriend helps to build tensionand set the mood for the scene. The cuts between close up shots ofthe devil (Frank) and Donnie inspire the emotion and intensity of thescene.

Figure1: Screen shot of the scary cinema hall scene.


The director chose an electric humming sound to accompany the musicfor just about every scene where Frank is appearing or is about toappear. In the cinema hall scene, before the audience gets to learnof Frank’s presence, there is an electric humming sound thataccompanies the fear associated with his appearance. The music alsomatches Donnie’s schizophrenic condition, and it sound replicatesthe intensity that Donnie experiences when Frank is about to come on.


Jake Gyllenhaal does a superb job to portray Donnie Darko, apsychologically disturbed teenager. He matches the lines and actionsaccurately, as well as applying facial expressions that communicatehis psychological condition and experience to the audience. Forinstance, Gyllenhaal, acting as Darko, while reading a poem in class,saying “…I will deliver them from the kingdom of pain”, he usesa facial expression and body language that communicates fear andtension.


For Donnie Darko II, I will make Frank and Donnie visit Gretchen andtell her about time travel. I will then include flashbacks from theoriginal movie, which will disturb Gretchen as she will be seeingevents before they occur. This way, I will recreate the perception ofthings happening concurrently in parallel universes, which is one ofthe core ideas of the director.


From my opinion, the movie lacks the intense violence that isassociated with others in its genre. For instance, in the endingscenes, when a jet engine crashes through his room to kill him, thedirector fails to portray the violent nature of such an incident asit should be for a horror film. A good example is the deaths that areportrayed in the movie Final Destination, where gory deathscenes match the reputation of a classic horror movie.


The movie provides a satisfying end with a plot twist, where timeruns back to October 2nd, serving the audience dramaticsuspension.


The movie grades just below the quality of my favorite horror movie,Final Destination, when considering the execution fate anddeath.


The balance element of principles of design for the movie caught myattention, especially the depiction of the size of Frank to humanbody sizes, which portrays him as a superior, mystique and morepowerful being.