Donnie Darko

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).

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.

Question: Where did that engine comes from which causes Donnie's death? If he had returned the engine to the PU than how could the plane crash when his sister and mother were still in their room? And Just Before Donnie died why did he laugh? Was it because of his awareness of what's gonna happen in the future?

Towhid Chowdhury Faiaz

Chosen answer: His mother and sister didn't need to be on the plane for it to crash and the engine traveled back in time regardless of whether Donnie was in his room or not. But by staying in his room to die, Donnie saved his mother's and sister's lives since they cancelled their trip on account of his death, and prevented many other deaths. The one downside seems to be that the child pornographer would remain uncaught, but 10 days after the PU is restored, he commits suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Phixius Premium member

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.

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.

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

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

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

Question: In the Director's Cut, there is a scene where Drew Barrymore tells the students they will be reading Watership Down instead of The Destructors but there have been copies of The Destructors reserved at the Mall. She then turns to Donnie and says "perhaps you and Frank could read it together". Does she know about Frank and if not what does she mean by this?

Answer: There is a cut scene in which Donnie reads a poem he wrote in front of the class and he mentions Frank. Drew asks who Frank is and he states he's a 6 foot tall bunny rabbit. That is how Drew knows about Frank and since Watership Down's main characters are rabbits, this reference to Frank is appropriate.

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

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

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

Question: What film/text/person does Kitty Farmer confuse with Graham Greene when she replies to Rose Darko: 'I think we've all seen Bonanza.'?

Answer: Lorne Greene was the star of Bonanza which aired regularly from 1959 until 1973. He played Ben Cartwright, the wise widowed father of Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe.

Myridon

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

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

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

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

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

Continuity mistake: When Cherita makes her mark on the lifeline blackboard, there are some smudges on the broad chalk line. In the next shot, the line is perfect again. (00:41:30)

Phoenix
More mistakes in Donnie Darko

Donnie: Life isn't that simple. I mean who cares if Ling Ling returns the wallet and keeps the money? It has nothing to do with either fear or love.
Kitty Farmer: Fear and love are the deepest of human emotions.
Donnie: Okay. But you're not listening to me. There are other things that need to be taken into account here. Like the whole spectrum of human emotion. You can't just lump everything into these two categories and then just deny everything else!

More quotes from Donnie Darko

Trivia: When Donnie is about to enter the car with Gretchen near the end of the film, he clutches at his stomach as if in pain, and we see Frank touch his eye after Donnie dies. Both these moments foreshadow pain: a deleted scene of Donnie's death shows a pole impaling his stomach right where he clutched it. And Donnie shoots Frank in the eye.

More trivia for Donnie Darko

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