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Lost Sounds and Soundtracks. “Donnie Darko” and the Double Feature of the Living Dead

Steve Baker and Carmen Daye’s stunning track from Richard Kelly’s debut feature.

Adolescence is tough enough without discovering you are—probably?—predestined to act as the time-traveling hand of God. Whether Donnie is a mentally-ill schizo-depressive who mythopoetically justifies his own nullification as a righteous sacrifice to save the lives of those he loves or One genuinely blessed with rare supernatural insight into usually cryptic truths of our universe, Richard Kelly's deployment of the divinely mystical "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Steve Baker and Carmen Daye into a movie already stacked with instantly recognizable pop hits (not to mention its own excellent original score) complicates the soundscape noticeably and in so doing provides one of the movie's greatest emotional moments. Equally at home behind a Halloween ghost story or in an Easter mass, the track is a chillingly appropriate soundtrack for Donnie's attendance to the local cinema's Evil Dead / Last Temptation of Christ double-feature, yet the remarkable cue was never released on the film's original soundtrack in the US, in spite of its emminence in the powerful cult-hit.

Here's hoping your Halloween proves less complicated than Donnie's. Enjoy!

What you are listening to:

(1) "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Steve Baker and Carmen Daye



Music can be one of cinema's great pleasures. When used with inspiration—not dictating our viewing experience with a death grip or slathered like bad wallpaper over the rest of a sound mix—it can transform either solitary shots or spliced sequences of moving images into entirely new expressions, galvanizing details within the raw cinematographic material or contrapuntally complicating the initial impressions of the image.

Given our love for movie music in all its forms, whether a soundtrack features original orchestral compositions, near-abstract soundscapes, or acts as a curatorial force for collecting, exposing and (re-) contextualizing existent music, Lost Sounds and Soundtracks will serve to highlight some of our favorites, obscure and not so obscure, commercially available and ripped directly from audio-tracks where necessary. Unless analyzed within their original context, all will be divorced from their image-tracks in hopes that we might briefly give them their singular due.

Donnie Darko is such a great film and the soundtrack is amazing. From the beginning with Echo and the Bunneymen’s “The Killing Moon” to the end with Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.” Just so good.
Donnie Darko is a superb film though I strongly, strongly advise against watching the directors cut first, if at all. The original theatrical release of the film is perfect, mysterious, engaging, intentionally and emotionally vague at times there is no reason to do what director Kelly did in the directors cut – which for all intent and purposes, answers all the unknowns in the original cut and essentially relieves the film of all the subtleties. Do yourself a favor and savor the original, it’s brilliant.
“mysterious, engaging, intentionally and emotionally vague at times”….I like this a lot, especially in regards to this particular track’s use in this particular scene. I’m morbidly curious to see the director’s cut in spite of not receiving a single personal recommendation that it’s superior to the original. I’m also very curious to know whether someone else was involved in the process of editing it down and drastically reshaping it, a kind of Pound to Kelly’s Eliot. It just sounds like such a radically different beast with proportionally different intentions.

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