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View Full Version : Donnie Darko (spoilers and long)


Mini-Thud
12-14-2003, 05:14 PM
Alright, I saw this movie awhile ago. I thought I understood it, however after watching it again I can't really figure out a lot of the details in it.

I understand the jist of it, I think. However I'm confused on some of the details.

1) Now, Donnie gets the idea to go to Grandma Death's house from the english teacher that was fired. Using the words Cellar Door he enters the basement. Where he meets two of the "bad kids" from his school, who are wearing masks and have knives. Why we're they down there? They didn't know Donnie was going to be there. They couldn't possibly be thinking of killing Grandma Death, she lives in a shack and has next to nothing.

2) Why was Grandma Death in the scene where Gretchen (Donnie's GF in the film) gets run over? She's just walking away in the background for some reason, no one mentions her.

3) In the scene where Donnie and Gretchen are walking through the woods and Donnie tries to kiss her, she says something about the world being beautiful. I understood that part, however then she says "also, there is a fat guy watching us" and it shows a fat guy in a jogging suit throw down a cigarette and walk away. Later in the movie at the party this same fat guy in a jogging suit is standing across the street with a flash light, and he points it at the direction of donnie house. What is this guy all about? Does he symbolize something?

4) What was Frank's motive to go back and tell Donnie to do things that would get him (Frank) killed?

5) In the end, donnie dies from the jet engine crashing down... right before you see this, you see donnie sitting up in his bed, laughing out loud... why? What is he laughing at? Does he know hes about to die?

6) I gotta ask, can someone please explain this whole movie to me overall? I tried to understand it, but I just can't get my thoughts clear. Every time i think I have something figured out, I remember another small detail that just blows that theory away.

Please help me to understand the strange world of Donnie Darko!

Mini-Thud
12-14-2003, 05:28 PM
Forgot a few questions:

7 ) Why does Donnie grab the fat chinese girl and say that everything will be okay in a few days? Her life wouldn't be better without him (he'll be dead in a few days).

8 ) The black clouds at the end, they're supposed to represent the end of Donnie's world right? Do other people see this?

9 ) The end of the movie, donnie is back in his bed. Did his world end? And now "time" has reset to allow Frank to exist?

10 ) Whats with the talk to the therapist about being alone? I never see this really play into his character.

Stover9
12-14-2003, 05:31 PM
I was mezmerized by this film when I first watched (a LONG time ago - and I wasn't prepared for the confusion that would ensue). . .I'm afraid I'll need a 2nd viewing before attempting to provide an insight. Makes me want to go rent it right now. Is on EW's top cult movies of all time.

friedo
12-14-2003, 05:55 PM
Here (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=106812) is a previous thread in which explanations are offered. I, too was mesmerized by this movie, but it still confuses the hell out of me.

I reccomend getting the DVD and listening to the commentary track.

Larry Mudd
12-14-2003, 05:58 PM
It's been a while since I've seen it, but here's an attempt:

1) The bad kids were looking to rob Grandma Death -- she was rumoured to be a wealthy eccentric.

2) The "Manipulating Dead" encouraged Grandma Death to spend a lot of time standing in the road for many years, simply so she would be in the right place at the right time to cause Frank to run over Gretchen, as part of Donnie's education.

3) I was under the impression the fat guy was part of the FAA investigation. Dunno about anything else.

4) and 5) Frank is a member of the Manipulating Dead-- he's on the other side of the veil and his job is strictly to guide Donnie into coming to terms with the sacrifice that he must make. Also, the guidance that he's providing won't result in his death-- it will make it as though the alternate timeline, in which Donnie lives, and Gretchen and Frank die, never happened. Donnie makes the conscious decision to stay in his room and let the engine fall on him. After all the necessary steps have been taken, Frank (the living Frank, who has just dropped Donnie's sister off, knows what has happened and is trying to communicate (By honking his horn repeatedly) to Donnie that everything is fixed and he should get out of the room, now. Donnie's manic laughter suggests to me that he has a clearer view of the situation, now that Frank is no longer doomed and has lost his place as a member of the Manipulating Dead.

6) I doubt that it can be explained concisely, even by the principal writer. In the most general terms, Donnie sacrifices himself for the common good. He dies so that others may live, and there are, during the Mad World montage, subtle indications that his acts in the alternate timeline have rippling positive effects. At the moment of his death, his harrassed school-mate seems to find some comfort and peace, and Jim Cunningham appears to undergo a crisis of conscience-- his exposure in the alternate timeline leading him to own up and seek counselling?

I like this movie a lot, and it stands up to repeated viewing. Lots of little synchronicities, if you're paying attention-- for example, when Donnie tells Gretchen about his previous experience being compelled to commit arson, they're walking in front of a house that is later revealed to belong to Jim Cunningham.

Mini-Thud
12-14-2003, 06:18 PM
Friedo, in one of those threads you mentioned they talk about when the jet engine goes through the worm hole and appears in donnie's time that that made an alternate unvierse where the whole movie takes place.

Well, why didn't it (the jet engine falling through a worm hole) make another alternate universe when it kills Donnie in the end? Was it because things are altered by what Frank does?

In the end, I'm still not clear as to why the alternate universe wasn't created again in the end of the movie. It was said that it happens right before the engine hits his room, so Donnie's being there or not should have no effect on it.

Or was the jet engine that killed donnie in the end NOT from the future?

shy guy
12-14-2003, 10:17 PM
7 ) Why does Donnie grab the fat chinese girl and say that everything will be okay in a few days? Her life wouldn't be better without him (he'll be dead in a few days). To clarify, he doesn't say "in a few days." He says "I promise, one day everything's going to be better for you." I think he meant something like years down the road, not as a result of his death (which wouldn't make sense anyway, because in the new timeline creates, he was never alive to say that to her in the first place).

After all the necessary steps have been taken, Frank (the living Frank, who has just dropped Donnie's sister off, knows what has happened and is trying to communicate (By honking his horn repeatedly) to Donnie that everything is fixed and he should get out of the room, now. Do they say this in the DVD commentary or something? Because I've listened to that, and I don't remember this at all. (I remember the honking, that is, but not that it was that universe's Frank and htat he was trying to warn Donnie about something. That doesn't make any sense to me...)

Larry Mudd
12-14-2003, 10:31 PM
Do they say this in the DVD commentary or something?Ayup.

Miller
12-14-2003, 11:06 PM
Originally posted by Jukal
1) Now, Donnie gets the idea to go to Grandma Death's house from the english teacher that was fired. Using the words Cellar Door he enters the basement. Where he meets two of the "bad kids" from his school, who are wearing masks and have knives. Why we're they down there? They didn't know Donnie was going to be there. They couldn't possibly be thinking of killing Grandma Death, she lives in a shack and has next to nothing.

I thought the kids were hiding out there after robbing Gretchen's house, which she'd thought was her abusive dad, thus sending her out to find Donnie and starting the chain of events that led to her being killed.

On a related note, I've always thought there must be some significance to the very end of the movie, when Gretchen is watching Donnie's body taken away. She sees his mom and waves to her, apparently semi-remembering her from the alternate timeline. The mom waves back, and the random kid sitting next to Gretchen thinks the mom is waving at him, and waves back at the mom. Not sure what the connection with the rest of the movie is, but it seemed important, somehow.

shy guy
12-15-2003, 12:27 AM
Ayup. I must have totally missed that one. But it still doesn't make any sense to me. I mean, Frank honks in the beginning, too, what is he honking at then?

Besides that, "real" Frank, in the Mad World montage, is already home and doesn't appear to have any more recollection of what was going on than anyone else.

I don't buy it. But then, I have other problems with the director's interpretation as well.

RealTronic
12-15-2003, 01:42 AM
Check this site out for a rather technical, time-travel oriented, analysis of Donnie Darko (and other films):

http://www.mjyoung.net/time/darko.html

In particular, you might understand (arguably) why things come to a close after Donnie lets the airplane engine fall on him in the end. I don't agree with all points of analysis on that site, because some better explanations have been made on SDMB; but overall it's a fulfilling read.

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