Donnie Darko

Question: What is the point of the chinese girl? I've watched the film and can't quite figure out what she does with the plot, especially when Donnie grabs her face and says "Everything will be better for you".

Answer: Throughout the film, themes of alienation and disillusionment are prominent - an illustration of the alternate universe plotline. Cherita is that theme manifested in a very visible sense - people make fun of her, reject her, and she obviously doesn't fit in.

Phoenix
2

Answer: Cherita's seemingly small role has larger implications and can be used as a contrast effect to Donnie. Cherita liked (loved?) Donnie, but she could never be with him because they are from two "different worlds." But this does show that people with "mental problems" can be and often are attractive to others. Many teens feel alienated but for different reasons. Cherita and Donnie didn't fit in well. Cherita was teased/bullied by teenagers who went to a private religious school. Surely they have heard the expression "do unto others..." Why is this bullying behavior not viewed as mental illness while some other behavior is? Donnie told Cherita things would get better for her. After the teenagers graduate and mature, they will outgrow the behavior and the teasing should cease. Cherita doesn't need to change in order to have a better future. The same is not true for Donnie - he is not likely to outgrow his mental illness, and unless there are major changes in him, he will have no future.

WHAT?

Question: So let me get this straight. After reading the questions and answers, and scratching my head for a while, I concluded this, after the corruption occurs and the jet engine enters it. The universes unravel because of the corruption. So to fix it these "time travelers" decide to give a reason for the engine to fall through the wormhole by making Donnie send it through, thus fixing the corruption. Is this even on track? I saw somebody say something cause and effect. So could this be simplified by saying they made it have a cause for the effect or vice versa in their universe to save it? I feel like there has to be some kind of time always has a flow and can't be interrupted kind of thing, but I'm really not smart enough to adequately understand that. Somebody also mentioned something about the events had to happen a certain way or they didn't happen at all. I may have misinterpreted what the person meant by that, but I would like to share my take on that. It's funny cause the only credibility to that is the film portrays the characters reacting oddly at the end (you know what instances I'm referring to). However, if this wouldn't happen then it would open up an infinitely large door of possibilities. Events like in this movie could occur everyday, but we don't remember. I could imagine, tons of scenarios and they all be credible and unprovable either way. I think it would have been cool to go in that direction cause you could have an infinite number of different Donnie Darko movies, but that's just my thoughts. If you get what I'm trying to say here. It's weird to think about cause it seems there's no purpose to think like that, but is there a purpose if your thinking about it in the first place? What is that purpose, that is the real question? I apologize in advance if this is too lengthy.

Answer: It is a matter of interpretation, but I don't necessarily subscribe to the idea that Donnie or anyone is causing the jet engine to time travel - he causes his mother and sister to be on the plane, but not the storm or wormhole. Rather, he is simply experiencing the time loop and eventually understanding that it will end in his death.

1

Question: I don't recall Gretchen ever meeting Rose, yet they seem to recognise each other at the end. Is it implied that they had met in the TU?

Answer: They don't recognize each other specifically. Gretchen knows Rose as a woman whose son just died, and Rose might just assume Gretchen is a neighbor. It's possible that they feel some connection, but it is not made explicit.

1

Question: So if Frank is Elizabeth's boyfriend we can assume they've met before right? Does that mean when Frank takes off his mask during the Evil Dead screening Donnie recognises him? Does Donnie now know who Frank is, or does he believe he is just some random guy from the future?

Answer: Frank and Donnie have never met in the film. There were many near brushes where they could have ended up meeting, but as one of the Manipulated it was necessary for Donnie not to know who Frank was so that later on he would not hesitate to shoot Frank in the eye. This is complicated when you recognize that Donnie does see Frank in the movie theatre. But right before we meet the still-alive Frank, Donnie whispers "Deus ex machina" which is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. Donnie understands at that point what he has to do. If he had known before that Frank was Elizabeth's boyfriend, even this understanding might have caused him not to shoot, which in turn would have cause the Frank-ghost to disappear. That would have been detrimental to the film, since as the Manipulated Dead Frank-ghost had the job of pushing Donnie into doing what was needed to return to an intact timeline.

1

Question: Gretchen and Frank are both manipulated dead, but why is it that other people can see Gretchen, yet no one can see Frank and he's known as Donnie's 'imaginary friend'?

Answer: According to Roberta Sparrow's book, Frank is an example of the Manipulated Dead. Apparently, those who die within the confines of the Tangent Universe are given some level of knowledge of the catastrophe to come and serve to some extent as the Chosen One's guide. There seems to be some variation in the level of understanding given to the Manipulated Dead; Gretchen, for example, the other Manipulated Dead, seems to have an inkling that something terrible is going to happen but doesn't have the detailed comprehension Frank does. Nor does Gretchen's spirit appear to Donnie behind any kind of watery barrier. Nor does she dress up in a bunny suit. (Taken directly from www.ftvstudy.com/page9/page33/page33.html).

1

Question: It isn't that important to the plot but what does the back of the bus say? The second word looks like "rules" but I can't distinguish the "M" word.

Answer: The writing on the window of the bus says "Mongrels rule". That is the name of the school mascot statue, a mongrel.

1

Question: Near the end of the movie, when the characters are seen reacting to Donnie's death,what is Kitty Farmer's hand resting on?

Answer: Her bed.

1

Question: When Gretchen arrives at Donnie's party she says that her mother was killed or committed suicide. Since Donnie was the guardian of the engine and it may have been necessary for Gretchen to be there,is it possible that Donnie killed Gretchen's mother?

Answer: No, it is not confirmed that Gretchen's mother died. She has simply disappeared, and her house is messed up. It can be concluded that Gretchen's violent step-father may have found her mother and hurt her in some way.

1

Question: Two questions I had about the cellar at the end. What was the point of Donnie and his friends going to the cellar towards the end? Was he looking for something in particular? And the second thing was why were those bullies from school there at the same time? Did it have something to do with the story told in the film about how kids would try to steal stuff from Sparrow's house?

Lummie Premium member

Chosen answer: By going to the cellar, Donnie has continued to set in motion the events that will return the engine to his proper time. He burns down Jim Cunningham's house, which causes Kitty to be at his trial, which causes Donnie's Mom to take the kids to California, which causes her to take the earlier flight causing the engine to fall back through the portal to the normal universe. In much the same way, his Mom had to leave so they could have a party, which is where Donnie and Gretchen make/fall in love. He takes her to that house to talk to Roberta Sparrow, and it is when he notices the cellar door that the events unfold to motivate him. If Donnie lives, Gretchen dies. He must sacrifice himself to return time to normal so that Gretchen will live. The boys were taking stuff from Roberta's house as referenced earlier in the movie, but played a key role in the events unfolding correctly.

Jazetopher
1

Question: Why was the universe ending? I have watched the movie several times and I cannot find an explanation.

Answer: Donnie ended one universe/timeline by going back in time to save his girlfriend. The new one effectively started with his death.

Grumpy Scot
1

Question: Donnie's purpose was to ensure that that the engine fell into the primary universe by sending his mother and sister on the plane. Why was it so important that his mother had to board the plane? Wouldn't it have gone down without her anyway?

Answer: No they didn't have to be on the plane and it would have gone down without her but Donnie and his sister had to have the party for the remaining events to work. In burning down Cunningham's house, Kitty would have to stay behind and help Cunningham. This would ensure Donnie's mother would therefore leave and the remaining events could occur.

Lummie Premium member
1

Question: Why does Frank have Donnie burn the guy's house down, when at the end, Donnie goes back in time, dies, and therefore cannot burn the guy's house down?

Answer: Frank tells Donnie to burn down Cunningham's house because then Cunningham's kiddie porn dungeon will be discovered and he will be put on trial. If he's on trial, Kitty must be at his arraignment and cannot escort the dance team to Los Angeles, so Rose goes with them instead. Rose chooses to come home with the team on a different flight than Kitty would have chosen, and if they hadn't been on that flight the flight wouldn't have occurred (we don't know why not, but if it happened anyway Donnie wouldn't be necessary, and he obviously is or Frank wouldn't have called upon him). Because Rose takes the flight, the airplane engine passes through the portal and falls into Donnie's bedroom back in the original universe, closing the time loop.

Phoenix
1

Question: why was it the end of the world? what caused it to be the end of the world, and why did it change simply because donnie changed it so he died when he should have? how did the actions caused by him being alive amount to the end of the world?

Answer: The "end of the world" refers to the end of the alternate universe Donnie enters when Frank summons him out of bed at the beginning of the movie. The alternative universe will only last until the airplane engine is returned to the normal universe and Donnie dies. Donnie sets in motion events that lead to the airplane engine falling through a portal to the normal universe, and when it finally returns he defaults to his place at the exact point when Frank summoned him out of there to guard the engine.

Phoenix
1

Question: Why does Frank go back in time anyway, if it will result in him dying(saving Donnie) and how did HE time-travel? And why does he urge Donnie to do all those violent things?

Answer: Frank never goes back in time. In a special feature on the DVD called The Philosophy of Time Travel, there is an extensive discussion of what happens when an object slips out of the proper time continuum through randomly occurring portals. Forces exist to ensure that the object has a human guardian, whose responsibility it is to return the object to a portal in time that will send it back to the proper continuum, often sacrificing the life of the guardian. Frank, in the movie, is both a rather unimportant human figure and the adopted face of the force guiding Donnie to his destiny (returning the airplane engine) that exists outside of either time continuum and can speak to the inhabitants at will. The only thing he directly tells Donnie to do is to burn down Cunningham's house, which results in Cunningham's trial and causes Rose to take Kitty's place escorting the dance team to LA, and Rose chooses to take an earlier flight home. This is the only way the airplane engine would have been in the portal to be returned to the proper continuum. The other violent things Donnie did were merely satisfying his own issues with school, his girlfriend, and her death.

Phoenix
1

Question: What was the whole point of the girls doing that dance number at the show?

Answer: The show was a talent quest held by the school, and lots of students entered. The woman with glasses, shown in the audience a couple of times (she nods during the girls' performance) is a talent scout from the show where the girls perform, when they fly to California. They have just received the news of their selection to perform on the show when the other news about Jim Cunningham comes in (we see Kitty Farmer jubilant, as the secretary brings the newspaper over to her).

STP Premium member
1

Question: How did Donnie actually travel back in time, I just didn't understand this.

Answer: He returned to the place he started the film at. He somehow knew that that is the place he had to be to catch the wormhole express back in time.

Grumpy Scot
1

Question: After Donnie has gone back to the start of the loop, he lets himself be hit by the jet engine, presumably to save Gretchen, Frank and everyone else whose life he screwed up in the alternate future. What I don't understand is, since he knows what's going to happen and can see the path (literally) in front of him, why doesn't he try to change it? If he knew what was coming he could save Gretchen without dying himself.

Shay

Chosen answer: There are a couple reasons. One, the whole timeloop where Gretchen dies is the result of him surviving the jet engine incident. If he were to survive it, everything will happen again including Gretchen's death. He gave himself up for her. The other reason could be, that he is happy and not sure if it is a dream, so he just lets it happen (this is said in the commentary).

XIII
1

Question: What is the ending actually about. I think that when the plane engine goes through Donnies room, he dies and the rest of the film is him in a time loop seeing what would have happened but didn't because he died. Frank and most of the characters are vague memories from the last loop, kind of like de-ja-vu, but i'm not sure, so could someone tell me what the actual story is?

Answer: Something, in the form of Frank the rabbit, altered his destiny. Perhaps some benevolent force, we aren't told and it's never made clear, began the time loop. He lived a tangent and fell in love with his girlfriend. He realized in this tangent, that she died, so he went to where the loop began to start it again, sacrificing himself to save his girlfriend.

Grumpy Scot
1

Continuity mistake: In the class with the Lifeline exercises, the "L" on the word "LOVE" changes how it is drawn about 4 or 5 times between shots. (00:38:50 - 00:40:35)

Hamster Premium member
More mistakes in Donnie Darko

Dr. Lilian Thurman: Donnie, an atheist is someone who denies altogether the existence of God. You're an agnostic. An agnostic is someone who believes that there can be no proof of the existence of God, but does not deny the possibility that God exists.

More quotes from Donnie Darko

Trivia: The time when the world is supposed to end is 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. 28+6+42+12=88. The year the film takes place is 1988.

More trivia for Donnie Darko

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