Donnie Darko’s top musical moments

Restored in 4k with Dolby sound, Donnie Darko returns to the big screen, giving you the chance to relive the cult classic – and its iconic soundtrack – at your local Vue on 8th January.

By Chris Edwards.

15 years after its initial release, Donnie Darko, starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals), returns to the silver screen to make you feel suitably spooked all over again. This time, Vue are screening a restored version of the film in glorious 4k with immersive Dolby sound. On 8th January, you can experience this enhanced edition and remind yourself just how good the soundtrack is.
Donnie Darko
Speaking of which, the use of iconic pop music is largely responsible for the film’s haunting aura – songs like Gary Jules’s cover of ‘Mad World’ and Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ lending an eeriness to the already gloomy visuals. According to director Richard Kelly, these tracks played a huge part in the film’s success in the UK. With ‘Mad World’ making it to number one in the charts and so many British artists contributing to the soundtrack, the little indie film slated to go unnoticed started drawing attention.

Along with Michael Anders’ score, it also helped to set the tone for the 1988 setting of the film. It was a much-needed injection of nostalgia during a dark time in 2001, one that still resonates with audiences today. The story of a troubled high school student with an imaginary friend – a six-foot rabbit called Frank who tells him the world is going to end in 28 days 06 hours 42 minutes and 12 seconds – is oddly just as relevant as ever, and now you can experience it with those iconic tracks in their full, ear-pleasing glory.

So to get you in the mood for 8th January, here are some of the best musical moments from the film.

The opening scene – ‘The Killing Moon’ (Echo & the Bunnymen)

Talk about relevant; the band’s name even includes the word “Bunnymen”, and the lyrics “fate up against your will” essentially sum up the entire story. It’s the perfect song choice for the film’s mysterious opening scene, which shows Donnie riding his bike home after waking up on a road hill in the middle of nowhere.

The school montage – 'Head Over Heels' (Tears For Fears)

Rather ingeniously utilising the school bell-like chimes at the beginning of the song, this montage scene establishes the characters that will later play an integral part in the plot. It also makes school look horrific.

Halloween party – 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (Joy Division)

“I guess some people just have tragedy in their blood,” Gretchen (Jenna Malone) tells Donnie, as they sit on the edge of a bed at a party, definitely behaving, while ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ reverberates through the house.

Cinema scene – 'For Whom the Bell Tolls' (Steve Baker & Carmen Dave)

One of the most memorable scenes in the film features Donnie, Gretchen and Frank the bunny enjoying a pleasant screening of The Evil Dead. Frank asks Donnie to commit a bit of harmless arson. Meanwhile, this eerie track plays.

The film’s ending – 'Mad World' (Gary Jules)

Gary Jules’s rendition of ‘Mad World’ is perhaps the most iconic musical moment of the film. It backs a perfectly ironic ending that, without giving too much away, highlights the significance of Donnie and the secret madness of people’s lives.

Catch the restored version of Donnie Darko at Vue on 8th January; get times and tickets here.