My experiences with "Director’s Cut" versions have been mixed. I
enjoyed the full version of Blade
Runner but was very disappointed with the Director’s Cut re-hash of
one of my favourite movies, Cinema
Paradiso. It’s amazing how much the DC can radically alter the whole
feeling of the film. In the case of Cinema Paradiso, for me, the whole
thing went from a touchingly bitter-sweet and gentle story of a fellow’s lost
past to a cynically bitter-sweet ending with the message that some wishes are
best left unfulfilled.
So, I approached the Director’s Cut version of Donnie
Darko with some trepidation. It is another one of my favourite movies,
first recommended to me by our very own Amy and after my Cinema Paradiso
experience, I was worried that Director Richard Kelly would make a complete
hash of it when he was let loose again in the editing studio. There was only
one way to find out, so off went to the Dendy cinema in George Street…
Unlike many people who saw the original movie or DVD and were absolutely confused,
Donnie Darko always made reasonable sense to me – for its genre, that
is. Maybe I’ve read too many science fiction and science fantasy stories in
my time and was able to fill in the gaps. Anyway, I found the original movie
quite fulfilling and apart from one or two scenes (included as "extras"
on the DVD) that I would have liked added, it seemed complete.
The Director’s Cut didn’t seem that much longer; in fact there’s only about
20 minutes of extra footage. Those are worthwhile 20 minutes, however, adding
a couple of originally deleted scenes as well as some handy linking passages
from the Philosophy of Time book that is central to the storyline.
Importantly, the extended scene of Donnie’s fate stayed on the cutting room
floor. Wise decision, Director; it wouldn’t have worked.
So, my verdict? Donnie Darko: The Director’s Cut is a better movie
than the original cinema release. But it’s not a different movie from the original.
If you enjoyed the original, the extended version will confirm some of your
guesses and remove some of the sudden transitions between scenes. If you were
totally confused by the original, and prefer your movies conforming to the standard
Hollywood formula, then go and see The Princess Diaries 2.
So what is my absolutely favourite film, you may ask? You didn’t ask? Well,
I’ll tell you anyway. It is, of course, Casablanca,
hailed by many as the "perfect" film and continuing to stand the test
of time against current Hollywood blockbusters. It combines adventure, history,
romance, humour, satire, drama and even music, wrapped up in a story of sacrifice
and courage. There is very little to fault. Although, personally, I wouldn’t
have cast Ingrid Berman as Ilse, all the other actors are just right and certainly
no-one else could have been Rick other than Bogey.