Soundtrack Information

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

Enjoy Records (ENJOY003)

Release Date: 2001

Format: CD

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Average Rating: 5 stars (1 user)

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Track Listing

1. Carpathian Ridge
2. The Tangent Universe
3. The Artifact & Living
4. Middlesex Times
5. Manipulated Living
6. Philosophy of Time Travel
7. Liquid Spear Waltz
8. Gretchen Ross
9. Burn it to the Group
10. Slipping Away
11. Rosie Darko
12. Cellar Door
13. Ensurance Trap
14. Waltz in the 4th Dimension
15. Time Travel
16. Did you Know Him
17. Mad World
18. Mad World (alternate version)
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by Dan Goldwasser
April 9, 2002
[3 / 5]

Michael Andrews is a relative newcomer to the world of film scoring.  He worked as the composer on the critically acclaimed television shows "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undecleared" - but his first feature film took many of us by surprise.  Donnie Darko is a surreal, almost freaky mind-trip following a teenage boy, Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) over the course of time following a bizarre accident in which a jet engine crashed into his bedroom.  Donnie has daylight hallucinations, including talking to a giant rabbit named "Frank", who instructs him to commit acts of violence, and foretells the end of the world.  He starts to become interested in time travel, and soon discovers that his old neighbor might hold the key to everything.   It's hard to describe Donny Darko - it is best seen and experienced.  The dour mood and surreal aspects of the film are greatly enhanced by Michael Andrew's atmospheric and gloomy score.

The film takes place in the 1980s, and Andrews made a conscious choice to write a "retro-futuristic" score using instruments from the 1960's and 70's.  The darker dramatic moments tend play rather heavily, but work extremely well in setting the mood.  "Carpathian Ridge" uses a ominous piano and female voice for the main titles.  Atmosphere and low atonal notes are used in "The Tangent Universe", which is the same approach used in "Philosophy of Time Travel" and "Ensurance Trap".  Use of a piano figures heavily in the score as well, from "The Artifact & Living" to "Rosie Darko" to "Time Travel" and the sad conclusion in "Did you Know Him?".

The middle portion of the score utilizes an amazing theme, first heard in "Liquid Spear Waltz", a melancholy piece, with that uses a voxophone, and even reminded me a bit of the music from that creepy computer game, "The 7th Guest".  Another theme shows up in "Gretchen Ross", backed by a small choir.  This same orchestration carries over into "Burn it to the Ground".  "Waltz in the 4th Dimension" is a longer version of the theme heard in "Liquid Spear Waltz", but with a vocal element added for coloring.  It's very creepy and surreal at the same time.

The album is capped with a new cover of the Tears for Fears song, "Mad World" (sung by Gary Jules).  The song is so depressing and sad, it just ends the film on such a downer.  But there's an alternate version here (as a bonus track) which is the exact same thing, but with a percussion track overlay.  Donnie Darko was critically well received, even if it didn't get a big theatrical release.  Still, it should be seen if not for the story and the mood it sets, but for the score - which works exceptionally well in the film, and I'm sure we will see some great things from Michael Andrews in the years to come.


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