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shrubbery's avatar

What is your interpretation of "Donnie Darko"?

Asked by shrubbery (10236points) June 19th, 2008

I’m not looking for websites or articles, I’d like you know what you Flutherers think about this crazy movie by Richard Kelly.

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26 Answers

iwamoto's avatar

i wasn’t sure what to think at the end, it was really paradoxical, seeing as he created frank etc.

i should just watch it again

shrubbery's avatar

I definitely encourage you to watch it again, I think it’s one of those movies that is best watched more than once. I watched it about 4 times, getting something more out of it each time, until the fifth time I did not get anything new so I haven’t watched it since.

hollym's avatar

I’m not a movie critic, obviously, but this is one of my favorite films. On the surface, it’s about a boy living a “typical” life in the late 80’s early 90’s. The things he goes through at school, etc.

I think, though, that he was supposed to die when the engine of the plane crashed into his house. When he lived, because of whatever divine intervention/frank/angel/devil what ever, the universe had to correct itself. Perhaps by creating alternate realities. All of the things that happened because Donnie lived were erased when he died, at least in the new alternate universe.

I’ve totally got to watch this movie again this weekend. I want to hear other people’s answers!

paulc's avatar

You might find the answers in this earlier question asking for an explanation of Donnie Darko to be interesting.

shrubbery's avatar

Thankyou paulc, I do know about that question since I provided an example myself and my question was sort of inspired by will’s answer. To that question, only richardhenry provided his own explanation. Hence I asked this one to get some more responses that are not based on websites or anything. Thankyou though :)

paulc's avatar

@shrubbery, Whoops, didn’t see you in the answers there, my bad.

shrubbery's avatar

Neeevermind. So what do you think of Donnie Darko, paulc?

elchoopanebre's avatar

I’ve only seen it once and, to be honest, I thought, “man people are getting all of these themes and deep meanings that just aren’t there.”

But after thinking about it, I realize a lot of it went over my head and there was much more to it than I caught. I think I want to watch it again, now…

shrubbery's avatar

Come over to my house and watch it with me tomorrow afternoon :P
But you are sort of right, the director didn’t really know what he was creating and it really is all about interpretation, whether you get deep and insightful meaning or not…

Trance24's avatar

I sadly can not give a straight answer seeing as I haven’t seen this movie in a long time. I just remember it being extremely bizar. And remember it being really paradoxical, and confusing at the end. I would have to watch it again.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think it matters in the end exactly what it is about. I saw the film for the first time within the last year. I loved that it was so allegorical and tackled huge issues unlike most Hollywood films. To me the mark of a good film is that I am still thinking about it days after seeing it. The mark of a great film is that I wold see it multiple times. Donnie Darko falls into that category, and I can see why it is a cult classic.

jlm11f's avatar

hmm i haven’t seen this movie. but after two questions about it on the same day, i feel it must be added to my long (need-to-watch) movie list.

Mtl_zack's avatar

frank is from another universe and his universe is about to die. the 2 universes are linked and if something happens in one, it affects the other. so, donnie is counting down the days until frank’s universe will die, which will cause our universe to die. everything that happened in franks universe happens earlier than what happens in our universe, and when the 1st engine fell and donnie survived, frank came to make sure that he died, because the 2 universes could only exist if donnie died. so, when the time came for the engine to crash in our time, donnie died, affecting the other universe, and the scene switches to franks universe when the girl doesnt know who he is, because he affected frank’s past. therefore, the girl never met donnie, in frank’s universe that is.

its very simple :-P

i figured this out on my own, without friends’ help or the internet

jballou's avatar

I’ve heard a lot of interesting theories as to what Donnie Darko is about, but the most interesting one I’ve heard is that it is an intertwining of the story of a teenagers sexual awakening and the story of a time travel/wormhole/rip in space time.

The way I see it, it reminds me most of an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation where they get stuck in a time loop and the Enterprise blows up cause a rift in space time which causes the events leading up to the Enterprise exploding to restart, creating a never ending loop in time.

I would equate Donnie’s death to the Enterprise exploding, in that his death triggers the loop in time- only this event kicks off the time loop instead of being the culmination of the time loop (chronologically it would be death > looped event > restart > death > looped event > restart, etc) When Donnie is taken out of bed and saved from the engine, essentially this breaks the loop and kicks off the events of the movie. But since the time loop has been broken, this puts the entirety of space/time in jeopardy. Donnie is given what amounts to a count down clock to fix events as they should be before it is too late. In order to “fix” things Donnie goes through what could be considered a sexual awakening when he “saves” the girl from the bullies and she eventually becomes his girlfriend and they eventually have sex the night she dies- which is also the night that Donnie meets Frank who becomes the avatar that Donnie has subconsciously adopted to be the messenger in the first place (reinforcing the idea of the time loop). Whew! So after all that, Donnie has done whatever it was he was supposed to do (some people say it is expose the evil of Patrick Swazye’s character) and he has resigned to his fate which must occur in order to keep time/space intact.

Obviously this is just a loose theory, but that’s my interpretation as best as I can explain it

Randy's avatar

I loved it. It was deep and entertaining.

tinyfaery's avatar

Wow. There are some serious answers here. Zack and Balloo…very interesting. I always saw it as this: Donnie is aware of alternate realities, and that all time and space exists and occurs at all times and places simultaneously. The fact that he is “mentally ill” invokes the idea that Donnie is capable of alternative perceptions.

tinyfaery's avatar

woops…continuing…when Donnie realizes that one reality, the one where he lives, causes the only true connection he had to that reality to die (the girl) he decides that the reality where he dies is a better option. I find this poetic but selfish at the same time. Its the type of decision someone with a ” mental illness” would make.

nayeight's avatar

That movie was weird….way beyond anything I could interpret or begin to understand.

autumnofage's avatar

I don’t feel like writing a long answer about what I thought it meant at the moment but if you enjoyed it you should go to the main website you have to use clues from the movie to work your way through it; it’s really neat. At least to me…

Mtl_zack's avatar

haha!! i was the closest!!!! (according to autumnofage’s link)

bluemukaki's avatar

I think people often understand the time-travel/alternate universe part of the film, but they fail to see the relationship between god, Donnie Darko and time travel/schizophrenia. The film asks us whether what really happened occurs, are we really seeing these events? Is Donnie’s perspective and activity in this film completely delusional? People who work with schizophrenics are take aback by the fact that until these patients are labelled as schizophrenic, they are almost completely believable. People who see things truly believe they exist and become completely involved in that imagined person/events. How are we to know what is going on? Perhaps we are too ignorant to see what these people see, and because we have labelled them as schizophrenic their visions are seen as a disorder (Xmen!).
The film asks us whether we believe in fate, clearly seen with the spears coming out of people’s chests, these represent people’s complete slavery to their pre-determined fate. Donnie says it himself when he is talking to his science teacher, what if he was to act within god’s channel? Donnie is suggesting that everything he sees, everything he has to do in the film is related to god, there is some higher being literally tinkering with Donnie life, playing it in a loop that can only be restored if someone is to break that loop, someone like Donnie. By suggesting this, Donnie is confirming his belief in a god, a higher being. Donnie understands by the end of the film that everyone is required to follow their chest spear, fate is dictating everything we do and that the events in the film are the direct result of time and fate being contorted and confusing one another.

rovdog's avatar

The more I see this film explained and read about Richard Kelley’s intentions- I think there is a site where you can read about it- I have to say- the less I like it. I believe you have to read that philosophy of time travel book which is in the movie or something. When this film was a simple time travel paradox movie that was funny and weird and didn’t quite come together I really enjoyed it, as something deep and heavy and involving external sources to understand it, it just doesn’t work for me. The themes and content just aren’t significant enough to support the time it takes to do a deep intellectual reading (not that I don’t appreciate the ones here- I think they are better and simpler than ones I’ve seen everywhere else). I also suggest reading the script, it may be more clear than the film.

TaoSan's avatar

A true interpretation of the fact that the elephant entered the convenience store right after the bus departed.

Not much to interpret, just a very desperate struggle to to make something “different” for “being different’s sake”.

I found it horrible to watch. Reminds me of some drug experiments in my teens sitting around a campfire with some friends.

Duuuuuude! The universe dude!

Yeah dude…..!


I mean we can sit all night long and discuss the space-time fabric of the known/conceivable universe, and I always enjoy discussing the thesis that observing an event may alter the event itself. I even dare to venture into parallel universe theories, despite being a slippery slope, but Frank simply ruined it. Just because a guy sees life-size rabbits in his head and makes a movie about them in conjunction with time travel schizo- and paradoxes doesn’t automatically make it mystically meaningful, it simply tells you the guys who made the film sees rabbits in his head.

The sexual awakening of a youth doomed to die in order to save the universe…..cheesh c’mon. If you do crank at least sleep every now and then.

I found this movie as deep and meaningful as I found the Blair Witch Project scary

Nada, zilch, none….....garbage

steve6's avatar

I definitely had to watch it again immediately and since have watched it several times. It is a cult classic with followers as fanatic as those of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It encompassed an amazingly broad spectrum of life experiences and really made one think about the philosophy of existence.

kevinhardy's avatar

great underrtated movie

Tomfafa's avatar

Pass the bong this way.

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