Donnie Darko Trailer

Audience and Institution

  • Year of Release: 2001
  • Country: USA
  • Certificate: 15
  • Director: Richard Kelly
  • Top Billing: Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi
  • Awards: Won 11/23
  • Production Company: Flower Films
  • Distribution Company: Pandora Cinema, Newmarket Films
  • Budget: $4.5 million
  • Revenue: $7,696,529
  • Length of Trailer: 2 minutes 26 seconds



  • Metropolis Films logo screen
  • New Market, Pandora, and Flower Films logo screens
  • ‘The visions’ *
  • ‘A trip in time’
  • ‘A sacrifice’
  • ‘A path to follow’
  • ‘To fulfil his destiny’
  • ‘Sundance Festival 2001’
  • ‘San Diego Festival’
  • ‘Competition Festival of Film Fantastique in Gerardmer 2002’
  • ‘Donnie Darko’ – film title
  • ‘Jake Gyllenhaal’
  • ‘Jena Malone’
  • ‘Drew Barrymore’
  • ‘Mary Madonnell’
  • ‘Holmes Osborne’
  • ‘Katherine Ross’
  • ‘Patrick Swasze’
  • ‘Noah Wyle’
  • Billing Block

*From ‘The visions’ to ‘Competition…2002’ I translated from French to English


  • Ped up/pan right of an axe in a statue followed by a crane down left of ‘they made me do it’ writing on the ground
  • Shot of drawings of rabbit mask, which we later see in a physical form – suggests Tommy’s psychological state has deteriorated
  • Shot of calendar followed by the rabbit looking at Tommy who says “Only a few days ’til they catch me”, suggesting that it is the rabbit who is after him?


  • The soundtrack is rather dissonant and repetitive
  • There is a lot of dialogue in the trailer, most of which is based around Tommy’s psychological state, e.g. Tommy saying “Oh I have those too, what kinda emotional problems does your Dad have?” to his supposedly imaginary friend, as well as “I have to obey him, he saved my life”, suggesting someone (possibly imaginary) is controlling Tommy and making him do things like damage the statue
  • As the invisible wall is being hit by both the rabbit and Tommy, sound effects are used, becoming more high-pitched each time the wall is hit, suggesting that while still intact, it is becoming more strained (wall could be Tommy’s mental barriers?)

Mis-en Scene:

  • Metallic rabbit mask – physical representation of psychological fear?
  • Props of pills for Tommy’s psychological ‘condition’; axe, etc
  • Low-key lighting is used to emphasise the drama and mystery


  • Inserts, e.g. a shot of a man giving a speech about a boy “whose life was completely destroyed by these instruments of fear” is cuts to an insert of Tommy taking pills, emphasising the implication that Tommy is psychologically distressed
  • Visual effects such as ripples in the air, and an invisible wall that Tommy and the rabbit hit
  • Black out from the edge in during a mid-shot of Tommy’s mother sliding down a door
  • Varied editing paces are used, however, it is generally very fast
  • A lot of montages are used

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