Darko and the Light
A disturbed student walks into the light.
i thought he lived and went to the fourth dimension. i went through the website and found out the most interesting things. but just paying attention and thinking the whole movie through again and again is the best thing. although you do it millions of times when you leave the theatre also.
I have read many interpretations of this movie. Even though the metaphysical/religious interpretation is my favorite, I have had trouble explaining the movie to my cousin, who only saw a “movie where a boy died at the end.” That’s a direct quote. I am more curious about the symbolisms in the movie. For example, the asian girl, Chin. The movie portrays her as a semi-important figure, but I have yet to figure her out. And the fat man in the orange jogging suit. What’s he all about?
Feedback on this would be helpful.
I think that Chin is an analogy inside an analogy. Donnie moves through time, the plan of God for life, thus making him a combination of man and God, hence he is Jesus. Chin obviously has a crush on him, but runs away from him. She loves him, but also fears him. Her perpetual headphones signify a detatchment from the world, making her a partial observer. Whenever people talk to her, she thinks they are insulting her (and most of the time they are). Chin is the archetype of the Christian. She loves Jesus, but fears him (C.S. Lewis wrote in ‘Mere Christianity’: “God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from."). Her headphones are the signs of her devotion to the Chirstian philosophy of being in ‘the world’ but not of ‘the world’. That is, Christians are to be alive and active in the world, but not connected to it. Repeatedly in the Bible, the idea of persecution is adressed. Christians are warned time and time again to expect persecussion from one person or another for one reason or another. In the end, Donnie tells her that ‘it gets better’, this was one of Jesus’ core messages; that this temporal world will pass away and all humans will exist in some other place, for Christians Heaven (something better), for non-believers Hell (something worse).
Being agnostic myself, I found this movie especially compelling because it offerred a creative explanation for how God might deal with non-believers that he still deems as good, and wants to show them the way.
Donnie could only come to believe in God on his own terms. As such, God had to interrupt his ‘master plan’ by having Donnie elude his pre-destined death from the falling plane engine. God then took Donnie on a 28-day course to become, proving that God exists and that there IS a better life after death. Once Donnie came to terms with this, sort of discovering it for himself but really under the direction of God, he glady entered the time portal to go back in time where he was to die according to God’s original master plan.
It’s a fascinating idea to think that come my moment of death, God will interrupt his master plan, if he thinks I’m worthy of course, and prove to me under my own laws of logic that he in fact does exists. All this and the world will never know.
listen to the director’s commentary. the man in the orange jogging suit is from the faa. they are still trying to figure out what is going on and they have that guy watching him. you can also see him at the halloween party scene. also, frank is his sister’s boyfriend, and when she sneaks back into the house right before the crash you can hear his car honking in the background. according to Kelly (the director) he is warning donnie to get out of the room before the engine hits. also, in the final scene everyone is remembering what happened during the 28 days spent in the tangent universe, but only in a vague, dreamlike sense.
In what sense was the world ending towards the end of the movie? Why was it
ending to be exact?
What role did Frank (the bunny rabbit) play in the movie. How did the
protagonist know him, imagine him before ever meeting him (and killing him)
at the very end.
Was the jet engine freefalling so fast (with the help of its propellors)
that it travelled back in time to fall on Donnie’s room?
I would deeply appreciate it if you were able to answer these questions for
me for I am sure I am not understanding the full meanings behind this surely
the strange thing is that Donnie did know Frank, he was a friend of his sisters. in the movie, the sisters says at the party, “Frank’s gone to get more beer” and in the beginning he cycles past his car that drives past at the same time. So he could og known him subconciously, but didn’t figure when he saw him in the movie theatre. Maybe Frank was to symbolise someone in his life that’s unimportant, to becoming significant later on, like our lives with others.
The world didn’t end, just donnies did. He got to see the world in another dimension. I can’t word this properly, i’ll try later.
The jet engine travelled through a worm hole in time. those things that came out of the people that Donnie saw at the party. To time travel you need elements. Water and metal. ANd the plane went into a storm at the time Donnie was meant to go back to the other dimension. So he was killed. But he knew he was going to be killed and he realised he was not alone when he died.
do I make sense. i’ll write more when i think more about this into words.
Good review, Annie. I haven’t seen the film, though, so take it with a grain of salt :).
The most complimentary thing I can say is that you’ve made me want to see the film.
KA, I have your answers:
1. The world was only ending for Donnie. Everything Frank told him was not viable because Donnie made up everything Frank said.
2. Imagine shooting someone, taking a life is an incredible emotional experience, one that sticks with you. Donnie picked Frank to portray his subconcious for this reason.
3.The jet engine was sucked through a worm hole, thats how it landed on Donnie’s house.
Any more questions?
thank you a decent reveiw of the film. me and my friends have been discussing the film for ages and this reveiw will help us all understand. but there are still some questions that need answering. why does god choose donnie to prove the existance of god? and y if it was gods purpose to prove his existance why is donnie killed?
The beautiful thing about Donnie Darko is that when you finish watching it, whether it be in a theater, or at home, you get the sense that you learned something from it, whether or not you realize it.
I’ve had dozens of conversations with agnostics and very religious people about this movie, an although the agnostics do not believe in God, they still believe that Donnie was picked by God, in the movie, to save his mother from the plane crash and to save his girlfriends life, and at the same time, prove to Donnie that there is in fact a God.
Another great thing about this film is that it’s purely original. I did not find one part in that movie where I find myself going, “yup, seen that a thousand times over.”
But the best part about Donnie Darko, going deeper than just saying the cast and writer/director, is that it’s one of those films that can be interoperated in so many ways other than just the basic one of “It’s about time travel” or “It’s about proving that there is a God.” There are few films made nowadays that let people like us take them apart and discuss the beauties of them, and Donnie Darko is one of those few. I know that in the decades to come, it will become more well known than it already is, and people will appreicate its brilliance.
I know that people can have they’re own interperations of this movie and that is fine, but some of the answers to earlier questions don’t work too well. Let me attempt to answer some question that were asked from previous posts.
Somebody asked: “In what sense was the world ending towards the end of the movie? Why was it ending to be exact?”
A few people say that just Donnies world was ending. I disagree. Here is some text from “The Philosophy of Time Travel” by Roberta Ann Sparrow:
“If a Tangent Universe occurs, it will be highly unstable, sustaining itself for no longer than several weeks. Eventually it will collapse upon itself, forming a black hole within the Primary Universe capable of destroying all existence.” This is why Frank is telling him that in 28 days the world will end. The countdown began as soon as the jet engine went through the worm hole, which resulted in the creation of a tangent universe. If you remember the end of the movie there was a huge black hole forming. That black hole would have basicall destroyed all of existence, not just Donnie’s world, according to “The Philosophy of Time Travel”. So Donnie pretty much saved the universe. Now you can see how important he was. Basically it is like this: A wormhole opended up in a storm in the primary universe. A jet engine gets detached from the plane and flies through the wormhole, thus creating a tangent universe. This jet engine is called an “artifact” according to “The Philosophy of Time Travel”. This jet engine, or “artifact” is causing the tangent universe to become unstable and, eventually, destroy existence as we know it. So Donnie must somehow get the jet engine to a wormhole and back the primary universe. Also notice that when Frank the rabbit says “Wake up”, that is immediately when the jet engine goes through the worm hole and the tangent universe begins. As he beckons Donnie away from the house, that jet engine is falling throught the sky. I will explain this and Frank in my next post.
Ok, but here’s what I don’t understand.
Donnie was supposed to save the world, so he goes back in time to die. How does this constitute as saving the world? The fact that the engine still fell through time to kill him, would this not still have made the Universe unstable? Would this not still have started the cycle of the universe collapsing because the jet engine still falling through the wormhole created a tangent universe regardless of Donnie dying, no? And the fact that it did fall through the universe, wouldn’t that have forshadowed the future of the jet plane falling and having it’s engine ripped into a wormhole aka his mother’s and sister’s flight? I was under the impression that the jet engine that collided from his house came from the jet plane that his siblings were on. Therefore, whether Donnie died or not was pointless in the big scheme of things. What happened would have happened anyway, wouldn’t it have? I don’t understand how Donnie dying saved anyone.
Also, was the bunny hallucination/real person but not really there at the time that Donnie imagined him to be, sent from God, or a part of his schizophrenia or thought to be schizophrenia? And what medication was he taking? Because I’d like to stay away from that stuff…
I, for one, dont think that the movie had anything to do with God. Quite the opposite, in fact. I would instead picture it as something happening in a cycle that could not be controlled by any outside force. Donnie was not “chosen” for any particular reason, he was just the only person that could make any sense of what was going on. In a scenario like this, the whole thing must have happened many times before the one depicted in the movie. Frank was Donnies subconcious mind, warning him about the plane engine and telling him how long until the end of the world, that was what Donnie “remembered” and needed to warn himself about. God didnt select him for anything at all, God didnt make the scenario happen, it was just what i like to call a “space time fuckup”, and unchecked would just spiral for ever and ever.
I suggest everyone goes to [url=http://www.donniedarko.com]http://www.donniedarko.com[/url] and the answers are there not on this website and it is not about God. Does everything have to be about God?
After watching the movie for the first time, it was the conclusion of myself and some friends that this was a lesson from God. Since all the characters seemed to remember the events, if only vaguely, as supported by the director’s commentary, we came away from it with the hope that this spinoff universe showed them the error of their ways, and things would play out better. Swayze’s character would be haunted by a dreamlike fear of being caught for his child pornography, and hopefully take action to end this shameful crime. Likewise for the other characters, it would serve as a lesson for the way things could go if they’re not careful. The teacher would have more caution with what she teaches the children, or maybe not, but she would do so with some idea of the consequences of disregarding overreactive parent’s wishes. When talking about time travel, it is said that such a phenomenon would have to be an act of God, supporting the idea that God might have intended this all to happen.
Another way to look at it is that through some sort of glitch, so to speak, reality fell off the tracks of destiny. It can be seen instead as God’s way of correcting this divergence from his plan.
Donnie Darko is the most gracefully done movie I have ever seen. If it is read through the time travel/predestination lens, the movie is beautifully symetrical and everything resolves nearly perfectly. But i say nearly because I still cant figure out what place some things have in the movie, and was wondering if anyone else had any ideas. First off - the chinese girl. She almost always appears alone in the movie, and there is something beautiful about her. but what does she have to do with anything? is she just something else for donnie to save? why does he single her out and tell her that everything is going to be ok? Secondly, his english teacher. what is her significance, and is there any symbolism behind “cellar door”?. and, lastly, why does he burn down the pervert’s house? this also seems to have nothing to do with the resolution, except to be donnie’s “last temptation”.
This is probably a stupid question and most likely has notihng to do with the point of the movie but who really was Frank? A figment of Donnie’s imagination? The kid he shot? or both?
“Donnie was supposed to save the world, so he goes back in time to die. How does this constitute as saving the world? The fact that the engine still fell through time to kill him, would this not still have made the Universe unstable?”
Well, Donnie died, so the guy’s house would not have been burned down, therefor Donnie’s mother would not have to be on the plane because the woman in charge of the dance team would be able to go on the plane. The teacher might not have been fired because there would have been no PTA meeting where that woman could protest. (she was fired partially because the way Donnie flooded the school was also mentioned in a book she had been teaching). Gretchen would live because she would not be run over by a car. The universe would be stabilized because of this. Donnie essencially undid everything that Frank had done or had made Donnie do.
What I really would just like to point out here is the fact that Frank is the reason everything happened. The only thing he didnt affect was the jet engine.
Donnie starts to see Frank, frank makes him break the waterline in the school. Because of this, he meets Gretchen, and thus he does not have to die alone, this can be tied in with some God theory and God proving his own existance. Throughout the movie, if you wish to believe this movie has some religious meaning, many characters are instruments of God, but I wont get into that now. Anyway, because he broke the water line, there is a PTA meeting, which eventually leads to the english teacher being fired, which causes her to write cellar door, and leads Donnie to the cellar door of grandma death. Also, if Donnie didn’t burn down Jim Cunningham’s house, his mother would have never been on the flight, thus saving her as well, since the gym teacher would be on it. Theres a few more I think but I can’t really remember. I would also like to note when Donnie says to his science teacher ‘not if you stay within god’s channel’. If you go to the website, and read the article about Cunningham killing himself, this supports my theory that no matter what happened, eventually the same thing happened. Cunningham payed for his actions, Donnie died no matter what, so it was all still in the plan of god. As for the instruments of God, the english teacher was one of them, if not others. In a DVD extra I’m pretty sure she says, it was a little hard to understand, “Why don’t you read this with frank” which just confused me, but what I really what to get at is the cellar door, God made her write that, so everyone would stay within God’s channel. If you don’t understand this, sorry ,I’m a bit tired
O.K.- some statements and some questions: Frank is real; because he dies in one reality he is outside of the normal rules of space and time, thus he is able to appear to Donnie. (Perhaps Donnie’s schizophrenic tendencies allow him to receive Frank’s messages and see him more clearly). The official website does support this idea of Frank reg. dead people.
I’m wondering if it wasn’t a selfish act of Frank’s to appear to Donnie in order that he should sacrifice himself instead of killing Frank, but I’m really more inclined to the religious viewpoint although I’m not religious myself. You can’t ignore Donnie’s fear that there is no God, the mention of God’s channel-( predestiny) and the fact that ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ is showing at the theatre when Donnie leaves to burn down Cunningham’s house.
I’m still not sure about the world ending- whether it ends for everyone or just him, but the wormhole theory that ILP gives sounds right. Also, whatever happens, won’t his little sister still die on the plane?
This post is directed towards “thesneaker.” He states that this movie is “purely original.” Although i have seen no movie like this one, i argue that this movie is, in fact, not purely original. The mis en scen (meez on sen) (french) in this movie dates back to the 1920’s Nosferatu. Nosferatu contains a lot of “german expressionism” which was very prevelant in that time period. Donnie Darko is riddled with this visual effect, for example: Chapter 3, “wake up,” the camera pans up to the ceiling showing many shaddows at obtuse angles; Donnie walks down the stairs, in this shot there is no straight line anywhere, the same shaddowplay with the banister can be found in the 1920’s film Nosferatu. Along with the ever-prevelant German Expressionism, there are many shots in this movie that are typical of directors of all genres. Another example: When donnie is beckoned outside he follows the heges pathway. Although this is outside, there is a very closed-mis en scen (the heges close him off and dictate where he walks). As you can see, although there may be few movies with similar story lines, to claim that this movie is “purely original” is completely wrong. This fallacy is made evident with the constantly re-occuring cinematic strategies that transcend all genres.
Please read this.
This film has surprised, disturbed, and entertained me, and the analysation or whatever of it here fits well with what i’ve thought of it. Reasons for my feelings: I look very much like Donnie himself in certain situations. I think very much the same way, but with a little more clarity, and I don’t sleepwalk or see any demonic rabbits. Atleast that I remember. I seek a girl like gretchen (I’m a teenage boy, i apologise but i am similar to donnie in ways i’d rather i wasn’t too… I even agree with his smurf theories)… I found a girl who looks identical to gretchen only a week ago. She is now my friend. This would probably worry me more except that this happens about once a month. I won’t even go into the list of strange co-incidences and occurances which led me to purchase the DVD in the first place. If you’ve read this, please contact me at
I apologise for this being somewhat off-topic. I had to vent this somewhere.
I don’t know about saving the world but the affects the lives of each main character in the movie. His girlfriend Gretchen never meets Donnie, meaning she never dies. Donnie never burns down Cunninghams house, which means sparkle motion can be accompanied by Donnie’s gym teacher, saving the life of Donnie’s mother. Now I cant say if the plane crashes or not however I do remember Donnies mom trying to get home early, which means if she hadnt taken the girls they may have come home on a later flight, saving their lives as well. Frank never dies because Donnie is not there to kill him. Cunningham never goes to jail because Donnie doesnt burn down his home, revealing the child porn dungeon. If Drew Barrymore’s character is fired after Donnie breaks the water main, her unemployment may be a direct result of the Donnie’s reenactment of the book she is teaching her students (as in the school realizes this and fires her). The chinese girl is affected because she likes Donnie and now he is dead. And the psychiatrist is affected because she loses her patient. Actually this is what the ending sequence of the movie is for. Each one of those people in that sequence (from the mad world theme song on) is affected by Donnies death. So this is why Donnie choses to save himself...I can understand the whole belief in God thing, and not being afraid to die alone and perhaps that’s true but everything else I’ve heard from you people is gargbage so read this, put it in your pipe, and smoke it.
Holy Christ...Okay I’m sorry to anyone who has posted a decent explination already but some of your meaningless dissertations are starting to annoy me, especially the “walking into the light crap”. I’ll start with my interpretation of Frank. First off, Frank the chimera should not be confused with Frank the reality. The imaginary Frank that Donnie listens to is not the teenage boy that goes for beer at the end of the movie. My interpretation is that Frank (imaginary) is a result of Donnie’s collective memory. (note: For one to understand the time travel aspect of the movie, one would have to know that Donnie has traveled in time multiple times before the movie even starts. This is the reason the jet engine falls through his house at the beginning of the movie. Donnie has already played out the sequence in which he has burnt down Cunningham’s home and forced his mother to take the trip with his sister’s dance team, causing the engine to fall through the worm hole. :end note). I’m not sure if Donnie’s collective memory is subconscious because he states that Frank saved his life. Where if he was conscious of all the events in previous sequences of time/time travel, he would have known he was about to die each time he traveled back. Donnie’s collective memory may or may not be conscious, however, Frank (imaginary) can be construed as an image or icon Donnie has created to carry him through this sequence of events. Each time he starts this sequence (after he time travels) He chooses to get out of bed. Donnies final decision to end his life is the direct result of the understanding he obtains from his teacher upon discussing Roberta Sparrows book. Donnie sees these “life paths” which all humans follow. Donnie’s teacher helps him to understand that if one was able to see one of these life paths, they would be able to alter it. Well Donnie can see his life path. These “life paths” are also a tangible representation of Donnies movement through life. This conversation with his teacher holds relevance to Donnie’s ultimate decision to change his life path and perhaps can be seen as a defining (or at least explanatory) part of the movie. Donnie knows his life path and understands the choices he has made and will possibly make if he travels back in time to continue the sequence. He then decides to kill himself.
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