Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko is a 1988 cult film, directed by Richard Kelly.
The film opens with the titles of the production and distribution company logos, with the sound of thunder and rain behind. A landscape fades in, it is the view from a hill at what feels like very early morning. Loud birds and an early morning nature sound is in the background, supposedly ambient sound but it is obviously non-diegetic. This shot is long and tracks sideways as if being held by a moving person. This shot continues until it stops on one particular point, the camera moves forward and we see a teenage boy lying in the road with a bicycle to the side as if he has fallen off. The long camera shot does not make the audience tense for what comes next, but it is much more slow and thoughtful and really establishes the setting. As the camera reaches the boy, he appears to wake up and stand, light slow paced piano music starts. The camera is behind the boy as he stretches and looks across the mountain, then turns and laughs to himself, very confusing for a first time viewer. At the end of this shot a large title in white calligraphic font appears across the top of the shot, followed by the screen fading to white. The sound of the birds is very loud in this scene, as if it is heard louder by the boy because he has just awoken and is probably fairly bewildered. This is reminiscent of the often incorrect sound levels of a dream. The sound in itself is quite creepy.
Following the white screen, fairly upbeat 80's music begins and the camera tracks the boy riding his bike down the mountain, he looks happy. The boy is captured from a few angles, each shot tracking his movement, emphasis on the boy showing he is an important character. He rides through his neighbourhood, which establishes the setting, a shot tracks past a house with his family in the garden relaxing and tidying leaves. The boy enters the kitchen and opens the fridge, bearing the handwritten sign "where is Donnie?" suggesting he has not been home but the family don't really care, possibly because they are used to it. The music stops and the next shot is the family round the dinner table with lots of dialogue.
There were very few credits in the opening title, no mention of any actors and just four or five names of the film crew. The selection of shots of the boy riding home had no dialogue, in fact there wasn't any dialogue in the whole opening, but the music playing in the background of the before mentioned section shows the passing of time and also creates quite an uneasy feeling of happiness, uneasy because of the odd happenings. I really like the film, but I don't think the opening is a brilliant example of a thriller, not for a young target audience anyway. This is a cult film for it's bizarre storyline and characters, not for it's thriller qualities. Although I like the idea of creating a more thoughtful piece which creates a thrill in different ways. I also like the idea of using little dialogue in the opening, as it does create a lot of unanswered questions, which makes the viewer likely to be intrigued by the rest of the film. I also like the use of families in a thriller storyline because it can pull at the heart strings as the relationships between people is much stronger and therefore can be tense. Also, I think an audience can relate to a character in the film because everyone has family. From the trailer it is not clear that the storyline includes paranormal themes, but I do not want to include this element in my work as I think it would be very difficult to create and to pull off.

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