Bonnie's Film Website

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko (2001); Rated R
During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days. When Donnie returns home, he finds that a jet engine has crashed into his bedroom. Is Donnie living in a parallel universe, is he suffering from mental illness - or will the world really end?


Personal Response:

  1. It is quite hard to find a theme in this film because this film is far more complicated than a simple explanation. I think that of all the themes given, what stood out to me the most was a mix of the themes The Nature of Time and The Existence of God. And, although I think that the other themes are in this movie as well, I think these have the most impact on the events and explanation. The Nature of Time is very prevalent in this movie when talking about time travel and alternate universes. In fact, I think that the whole movie (the 28 days) was going on in an alternate universe, and only the last few minutes of the movie are going on in the primary universe. I think a pivotal scene that describes both of these themes is when Donnie is talking to his science teacher. They are talking about time travel, and Donnie says that if God controls time, then all time is predecided, and people are able to see into their future. His science teacher disagrees with him and says that this would enable the person to go against their destiny. Donnie then says that this does not matter if you travel within God’s channel. I think this mirrors Donnie’s situation in that Donnie knows that the universe will end (or rather him dying) in 28 days. He knows his future, but because he is traveling in God’s channel, he cannot change his destiny. Frank and all other characters drive Donnie to follow and accept his destiny so that the primary universe does not end.
  2. N/A
  3. The filmmaking component that by far stood out to me the most was the literary aspect. I think that, besides the cinematography, this film does not need to rely on that many other aspects other than plot and characters. These are so important because everything in the film, from the smallest comment to minor characters are deliberate, and nothing is not in the movie without some contribution to the reasoning of Donnie Darko. There is a reason that Donnie’s sister is on a dance team (to be on the plane), there is a reason that Jim Cunningham is revealed to be a bad person (to show that there are more feelings than those between love and fear), and there is a reason for everything. I do not think that other movies have such an intentional purpose for all of the plot events and characters (other than to entertain) than Donnie Darko does.
  4. I think that this film ends very effectively, so much so that it leaves the audience more and less confused at the same time. The end makes known that time travel is possible, and Donnie was in an alternate universe the whole time the movie was progressing. All other characters were leading him to his destiny and to accept his fate. He accepts this fate even though it is something that originally scares him, dying alone. When Donnie was originally talking to his therapist, he said that the search for God is absurd is everyone dies alone. However, this is exactly what happens to Donnie. Not only does Donnie die alone, but the last 28 days of his life he has technically been alone. The other people guiding him in the alternate universe do not have any will and are not real people with real actions. However, I think that Donnie accepts that, even though this may seem true, he is really not alone. These 28 days brought him closer to his mother, his family, his teachers, and, most importantly, Gretchen. He, in fact, did not even know Gretchen in the primary universe. Even though the other characters may not have any free will, they are important to him. Donnie is diagnosed with schizophrenia, which affects many thoughts inside his head. Because of these thoughts in his mind, I think it does not matter that Donnie was technically alone. He cares about his family and friends that were “in his head”. He wants to protect them, so not only is he not dying alone, he is dying with the thoughts that he is helping the people he loves.
  5. The scene that struck me the most is when Donnie’s English teacher is teaching about Graham Greene’s “The Destructors”. Donnie says a quote in the story is, “Destruction is a form of creation.” I think that this relates to the alternate universe that Donnie is in. His destroying of himself and the alternate universe allow the primary universe to stay alive. Additionally, on the board behind the teacher, a quote from the story says, “One moment the house had stood there with such dignity between the bomb-sites like a man in a top hat, and then, bang, crash, there wasn't anything left - not anything.” I think this shows how this whole movie is just for Donnie, and no one else knows about it. So much is going on during the 28 days in the alternate universe, however, Donnie is the only “real” person there. All the mass destruction in this universe does not show up in the primary universe. Nothing (except for the plane engine) is left from the alternate universe to go into the primary universe, not even Donnie.
  6. I loved watching this movie, and it is truly unlike any other movie I have seen before. I had seen this movie before this class but analyzing it made it even more enjoyable. I liked listening to everyone’s interpretation of the movie, and I like how there is not only one right interpretation. In fact, when I started writing this response, I sort of just started typing and hoped that I would find a good explanation. I think that everything I have reasoned makes sense for me, but it might not make sense for others, and that is okay. (I also realize that my thoughts are not thoroughly explained and probably confusing, so I apologize.)