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on 13 September 2005
In as far as breaks go, a film like Donnie Darko would certainly be classed as wish fulfilment for any film-maker. A top notch cast, a compelling story... How did writer/director Richard Kelly do it?

The Donnie Darko Book goes some way to offering further insight into how this modern cult classic came about. More accessible than the typical 'Making Of...' volume that often accompanies a film's release, this is a book that's suitable for both those who want to discover more about the film and those who want to know more about the journey of film-making.

Accompanied by the original shooting script and lavish artwork from the film, it is the first part of the book which unravels Kelly's journey from inspired creative to first acclaim at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, as conveyed in the form of an interview conducted by Kevin Conroy Scott. As you read on, you can't help but get the feeling that Kelly's experiences in life have been leading up to this point. Maybe it's the influence of the film, or is it true that life mirrors art?
"In eighth grade I was asked to do a book report in science class and I picked A Brief History Of Time [by Stephen Hawkins] because I thought it had a cool title," says Kelly. "Even though I could not comprehend it, it inspired me to try... and, as a result, that book has been at the back of my mind ever since."

For fans of the film, that's one of the first series of revelations that Kelly offers into the genesis of Donnie's world, whether he directly acknowledges them as contributory or not. For those keen on the subject of story creation and film-making, there are plenty more. Kelly's influences in these areas are more down to Earth than the gurus that film enthusiasts would normally expect to turn to or study. He cites his high school English classes and author Stephen King as being the means through which he learned how to craft a story. David Fincher's music video for the Aerosmith hit Janie's Got A Gun inspired him in terms of film-making ("I had never seen a video that told a story. It was better crafted than most movies I had seen and I was taken aback by it").

Film school beckoned, where Kelly cut his teeth on student projects. These films gave an early indication of the direction Kelly was heading for - a demonstration of audacity and ambition, handled by a bit of an outsider. Nowhere is this made more clear than with The Vomiteer, a self-explanatory piece that was one of Kelly's first efforts. He refers to it as a 'reaction to the pretension' he experienced through his peers, who seemed focused on solving the world's problems or making people weep through their work. As Kelly notes, sadness is very much self-absorbing, whereas laughter is something to be shared with others. "Comedy is so undervalued and looked down upon, but it is so needed... the hardest thing to do is get a good laugh out of someone."

As you'd expect, The Donnie Darko Book is not a technical guide to film-making, but regardless, there are many gems of advice that Kelly imparts, especially for the writer. Surprisingly (or not as you get to find out more about him), Kelly is not a big fan of screenwriting rules. "I wouldn't have even bothered writing Donnie Darko if I'd had a bunch of screenwriting rhetoric pushed on me," Kelly says, "because I would have thought, 'I'm not allowed to do this, I'm not allowed to do that.'" If he has anything good to say on the rules of writing observed by the masters, it's reserved for Joseph Campbell and his exploration of mythology and story archetypes. "It should be embraced in the sense that you learn the formula," he states, "then you learn how to corrupt that formula."

This book comes in particularly valuable with Kelly's experiences in touting the Darko script and eventually, the completed film. In short, it's a nightmarish scenario to rival the image of Frank, Donnie's otherworldly guide. Despite signing to major talent agency CAA on the strength of the script, Kelly found himself taking one step forward and two steps back with development executives. No doubt due to his insistence that he, appearing a first-time film-maker, should be the one to direct it. The hell of pitching is well documented here, but even down the line with the first public showing at Sundance, Kelly's troubles are nowhere near over. He recounts a sneaky ploy used by distributors that certainly comes as a nasty surprise. Festival film-makers, be warned.

There is much to be learned from this book, for even though it has an original and compelling script, Donnie Darko was almost a film that never was. Kelly is honest and frank in his appraisal of his journey to date, which certainly makes the book an educational experience as opposed to a promotional tie-in. The book is worth the cover price for the interview with Kelly alone, although screenwriters will no doubt take great enthusiasm in seeing how he brought his vision from thought to page with the accompanying screenplay.
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on 17 December 2003
The Donnie Darko book contains an introduction by Jake Gyllenhaal, an interview with director Richard Kelly and the script itself. Also, there are photos and artwork.
The interview is particularly interesting, revealing some of the origins of the script and the struggle to get it into production. These facts are not on the DVD but still provide excellent material. The script is fantastic and can be read by itself, although accompanies the film very well.
This book is a must for all fans of the film, and contains very interesting material, but I can't help feeling that more could fit into such a book.
Very good, nevertheless.
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on 6 November 2003
I knew that when I got this book, that I wasn't going to get a solution, or a completion of the film. I am a big fan of the film, and I felt that despite it's open-endedness, that it was well deserving of its critical acclaim. Besides, I enjoyed putting my own theories to it and may have been disappointed if the film was spoon-fed to me.
The book is certainly a must for any fan, but not necessarily for everyone. The interview with Scriptwriter/Director Richard Kelly is certainly enjoyable and a good read, but I somehow got the feeling that it may have been lifted from a magazine article.
The bulk of the book is the original unedited script that was written for Donnie Darko. While this will be a delight to many, and while I can undeniably see the relevance of having it included here, it ultimately comes off as a major piece of filler to the book.
Of most interest was the mock-up of Roberta Sparrow's Time Travel book. This is the book's strongest selling point, and the material in it will make you want to see the film again with this new info in mind. However, the pages are scans, and fill 2/3rds of the actual page. This makes for some slightly awkward reading, and it would have been nicer to see them larger and more clearly.
Finally, the book bows out with some images and photos, a few which appeared in "Donnie Darko" and a few more which formed the advertising campaign around London, involving grafitti art.
I was hoping for something more in-depth to the film than this. While the extras are appreciated, I would have loved to see what each actor/actress made of their own characters and their own interpretation of the film, any amusing anecdotes or theories about some of the more philosophical ideas, maybe even a few more enigmatic curveballs thrown in to add some depth to the film - not necessarily an answer for the whole film itsef, but a few more interesting questions.
One for the die-hard fans only, I'm afraid!
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on 20 September 2003
This book goes perfectly with the film, but it doesn't tell you EXACTLY what the film is about - it leaves that open. If you want to know more about the production, and how it all came around, then this is definitely the book for you!!
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on 3 December 2009
This book could have been much more informative and revealing than it is. The interview with director Richard Kelly is interesting,but does not tell me a lot that is new. He seems to have some kind of obsession with the 80s,and this I found annoying and not relevant to a better understanding of the film. Being such a visually rich movie, colour photographs and a larger format would have been an improvement on this. The bulk of the book is taken up by the screenplay,and there is a section of black and white photographs (not very clear reproductions)from the film,and artwork featured in the film.
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on 23 April 2012
Quite a slight 'book' on the movie, it amounts to a short but interesting interview with the director that covers the genesis of the script and production, a few images from and inspired by the film and a few pages from the imaginary book on time travel mentioned in the actual movie. The remainder of the book is taken up with the screenplay.

It felt like they were scraping the barrel to put this book together in a way, although if you were just looking for a copy of the screen play, these additional items would seem like value added content.
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on 20 March 2013
It's a good book,
shame about the physical quality
completely battered
not that I mind, it's a good read, and it was cheap
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on 16 August 2004
well what can i say apart from "wow"
the book took my breath away and was such a good read i had to read it at least another to two times because it was that good!
the script itself for donnie darko is very eerie and has a tangible feeling about it and the book has that same feeling
i love the fact that the book also contains the deleted scenes from the film which unless youve got the dvd youve probably not seen.this isnt just a book,its something that with the film also will change history.if you dont read it your missing out on something really special!
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on 19 November 2009
If you're a serious fan of the "Donnie Darko" film, then this book might interest you. The full script is included but of more interest is the interview with the creator/director Richard Kelly and some interesting art from and about the film.
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on 22 August 2013
I have given this product 5 stars because it is a brilliant and very interesting book. I would highly recommend this book for all Donnie Darko fans. Thank you.
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