When Stefan Ulstein, who teaches a film course at Bellevue (WA) Christian High School, and his wife Jeanne attended a Donnie Darko press conference at the Seattle International Film Festival, several of his sharpest students perked up to express their interest in the film. The Ulsteins, surprised to hear that these teens were so into a movie that bombed at the box office when it first released in 2001, sat down with three of them—Kili Bergau, Jimmy Kelly, and Dani Kubo—to discuss the film's merits. The film has become something of a cult favorite among teens and young adults, and is now being re-released to theaters in a longer "director's cut" edition.
"Donnie Darko tanked when it opened in theaters in 2001," said director Richard Kelly. "It came out and just bombed." Since the short-lived theatrical release, a cult following has arisen around the film. Fans, many of them teenagers, watch Donnie Darko on DVD, cable and late-night movie screenings. They chat endlessly online. Kelly says that "groundswell of support made it possible to re-release it now."
Kelly says the new director's cut, released to theaters this week, is 20 minutes longer than the original, and thus more understandable.
Donnie Darko is a time-space fantasy based on a teenager who he hears voices and talks to a gigantic rabbit. Whether all of this is happening in real time or in Donnie's mind isn't completely clear, which makes for a fascinating ride. Things start out normally enough, with a standard suburban family going about their business, but then a jet engine falls out of the sky, crushing the Darko house. Then things get really weird: The rabbit tells Donnie the world will end in 28 days. Donnie, undergoing psychiatric therapy but refusing ...1
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Teens Dig Donnie Darko
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