Michael Andrews
Donnie Darko


5.0
classic

Review

by Nick Habisch USER (53 Reviews)
March 3rd, 2011 | 17 replies | 6,725 views


Release Date: 2002 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The best example of a soundtrack that works beyond the film.

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Donnie Darko is an American film about the struggles of a young man who suffers from hallucinations and is tasked with saving the world. This movie is set in the timeframe of the late 1980’s and features songs by artists such as Tears for Fears, INXS, and Echo and the Bunnymen among others; as well as an engaging original score by Michael Andrews.

The first musical piece that is heard is Carpathian Ridge. This piece introduces the film, with spacey feedback, which flows into a reverb soaked piano line. The spaced out notes create a saddening and disturbing feeling for the listener. It sets up a mood, as the listener feels emotion, but does not know why. The Tears for Fears song Head Over Heels takes place during the introduction to Donnie’s school. It is an 80’s song, very upbeat, and reminds me of those typical high school/teenager movies with its bright synth and effect-laden guitars, and gives the audience a break from the melancholy beginning of the film. My personal favorite piece of music in this film is entitled Manipulated Living. It occurs during the intercut scene between the PTA meeting and Donnie’s bathroom encounter with a mysterious character. This is a very uneasy piece, with pulsing, deep sounds, along with some strings and random feedback. It really is quite a creepy tone while accompanied by the visuals. A while after that is the Liquid Spear Waltz, which is a waltz, with piano, strings, and ambient background tones that lightens the mood and adds a sense of curiosity to the movie.

During the middle portion of Donnie Darko is For Whom The Bell Tolls, which plays during the cinema scene. Haunting female choral voices are used to give a chilling effect and it works very well. Although these pieces are all very well done in correspondence with the movie, the most emotionally driving piece has to be Gary Jules cover of Mad World, which was originally done by Tears for Fears, and appears near the tail end of the film. This cover features a very down-temp piano piece with Jules singing and nothing else. This stripped down version, along with the images featured the film, evoke an emotion of sadness and add a huge emotional burden to the viewer because of the events that have enfolded in the film as well as the music itself.

The thing that makes this soundtrack work so well is the simplicity. Outside of the songs by other artists, the original score doesn’t feature more then a few musical elements going at one time. This gives more emphasis to each individual element, unlike a large orchestral score where the focus is on the large scale. Little musical snippets that get repeated such as the piano piece in Carpathian Ridge, also helps give a sense of familiarity and continuity.

Michael Andrews score along with the songs by well-known artists makes for a very good soundtrack to a very good film. This is one of the few soundtracks I have heard that is just as wonderful outside of the film as it is within the context of the film. Its simple, haunting sounds are one of the best examples of what a soundtrack should do, and I highly recommend giving it a listen.



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user ratings (26)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
WhiteWallStargazers
March 3rd 2011



2647 Comments


Hopefully this flows well, different from what I normally review.

BallsToTheWall
March 3rd 2011



44164 Comments


Only watched the movie once despite mildly enjoying it. I don't recall the soundtrack at all so i'll have to listen to this.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2011



16125 Comments


This is an excellent soundtrack. Among my favorites. Tears for Fears + spaced out ambient stuff with classical infuence = win.

BallsToTheWall
March 3rd 2011



44164 Comments


I love Charlie Clouser's OST for Death Sentence. A movie even more depressing than Donnie Darko. I would like to review that actually.

SeaAnemone
March 3rd 2011



18752 Comments


No "Killing Moon" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart"? That's what made it awesome...

WhiteWallStargazers
March 3rd 2011



2647 Comments


I actually took most of this from an essay I wrote on the emotional effect music has in movies, so my choices are more the pieces that I felt worked for that. I also kinda tried to reflect more on the original score then the songs, so it leans a bit more that way.

Titan50
March 3rd 2011



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great, very detailed review. I haven't listened to this outside of the film, but I loved the music in it anyway. Fucking brilliant film, one of my favourites.

scissorlocked
March 3rd 2011



3479 Comments


No "Killing Moon" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart"? That's what made it awesome...

Sea's got a point man.especially the scene with Donnie's bike and Killing Moon on the background....aaahh the film is great


Digging: Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches

WhiteWallStargazers
March 3rd 2011



2647 Comments


Sea's got a point man.especially the scene with Donnie's bike and Killing Moon on the background....aaahh the film is great

Personally I like the placing of Killing Moon in the directors cut (Walking down the staircase at the party) rather then the opening bike scene, but to each their own

MarvellousG
March 3rd 2011



368 Comments


Nice, I love the film so I'll definitely pick this up. Great review.

WhiteWallStargazers
March 3rd 2011



2647 Comments


The US edition of the soundtrack is only the original score I think. The UK version has a disc for original score and disc for the other songs, but it's hard to find.

Kubrick
March 3rd 2011



738 Comments


Whoa, I'm wearing my Donnie Darko shirt today. Weird coincidence haha. Cool review! Love this film/soundtrack. Mad World is such a haunting song.

Titan50
March 4th 2011



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I managed to find the complete soundtrack (with the other songs) on Mediafire

Bitchfork
March 4th 2011



7584 Comments


soundtrack's pretty good - soooo much better dark ambient out there though. movie sucks though. silent hill, eraserhead and fallout soundtracks are much better than this though - so check those out, dark ambient-oriented too.

WhiteWallStargazers
March 5th 2011



2647 Comments


Thanks andcas

Matt6233
July 30th 2012



46 Comments


never thought to look this up on here but it really is an amazing soundtrack. kind of depressing but very good

BrushedRed
June 11th 2013



675 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

BEST. MOVIE. EVER. I had to search everywhere to finally find the Director's Cut. I'm so glad to have it. I made my friends watch it with me like 5 times the weekend I got it!

Maaaaad world



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