***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***SPOILERS GALORE!***
This is a re-post of something I wrote over at Flick Clack (which is being overhauled both thematically and visually) about my take on the events of Donnie Darko.
(Originally posted on 3/20/02 5:56:48 pm)
OK, I'm going to try to explain the events of the film in chronological order, if that's at all possible. I just watched the film again with the director's commentary, so I have a bit more insight. The following passage is a combination of the writer/director's words and my own interpretation.
10/2/88 12:00 AM
Frank-Bunny wakes up Donnie and leads him out of his room. This one action sets the events of the film into motion, and the fact that he leaves his room is what causes the plane's engine to travel back in time and crash through his bedroom.* There are forces at work here, and whether they are god, aliens, spirits of the universe or denizens of the fourth dimension is unexplained and ultimately inconsequential. The main point is this: the forces have decided to manipulate one Donald Darko by creating a path for him to follow and save the world.**
Everything Donnie does leads to another, from the sleep-golfing incident which sets everything off to the flooding of the school which helps him meet Gretchen. Then, he burns down Cunningham's house, which leads to his mother having to chaparone Sparkle Motion's trip, which leads to the party, which leads to his shooting Frank outside Grandma Death's house.
Within that sequence, Donnie gets the book Grandma Death wrote, which inspires him to write the letter that she is looking for throughout the entire movie. It's this letter which causes Frank to swerve around her and kill Gretchen. When Donnie shoots Frank, creating the image of the mutilated Frank-Bunny that has haunted him, he knows it is time to return to the cliff where he awoke in the beginning. He then, through powers given to him by these unknown forces (the same powers which allowed him to drive an axe into the head of a bronze statue, among other impossible things), creates the wormhole which causes the engine to fall through the house. When he finds himself there, the director states there are two valid interpretations of his laughter: either he believes everything was a dream, or he is enlightened to the forces which drove him.
Either way, it is my belief that he didn't have to die. When Frank honks his horn outside the house, moments before the engine crushes Donnie, he is trying to alert Donnie to the fact that he doesn't have to be there, warning him that the engine is on its way. It's a bit confusing, but apparently the "Tangent Universe" that was created the moment Donnie was woken up on October 2nd left residual memories in the minds of everyone that was touched by the events. Frank knows what is going to happen, and when he gets home, he sits, in wonder, touching his right eye with the fleeting feeling that he has avoided a gruesome fate.
On the Donnie Darko website, which itself is a password-encoded puzzle, there are numerous newspaper clippings and FAA reports revealing that the engine is indeed a caorbon copy of a jet engine from a plane that, in the "Tangent Universe", would have carried Sparke Motion to Star Search. The FAA studies it to no end, because it is the one paradox created by the tangent universe. Also, one reads that a number of people's lives are actually affected by the residual memories of the "Tangent Universe". Cunningham kills himself, cursed with the fear of being caught, and Noah Wyle's character is killed in a hit-and-run accident which may just be the universal force cleaning up anything that might reveal its plans and designs (since he had that book The Philosophy of Time Travel).
I suppose it could have been necessary for Donnie to die, if only for the fact that he had firsthand knowledge of the events. Maybe. Does any of this make sense? It's times like this I wish this board had blown up big, so I could see more than one or two opinions. But I treasure those I am able to see. Maybe a scary bunny will help me promote the board.
*Donnie, later on, insists that Frank-Bunny saved his life, but in fact if he had lain there in his room, asleep, the engine wouldn't have detached and the world would have literally ended on October 30th. The reason for this is unclear, and perhaps we can address that later on.
** Everything that happens in the film, between 10/2/88 and 10/30/88, occurs in what the filmmaker called a "tangent universe", which at the end is retraced and erased, leaving only the jet engine behind.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention (or so I think, I ain't reading over that monster again) that Frank-Bunny is not Frank. Frank-Bunny is a vision created to clue Donnie to the path he is meant to take. It's the vision that makes the most sense because he has little to no interaction with Frank until he shoots him, which creates a carbon copy of the Frank-Bunny. It is at this point he knows to go to the cliffside and "do his thing" whatever it was.
<p><HR>Check out <a href=http://db.etree.org/aenematron>My Show List</a>!<BR>---<BR>"This is a movie too. Cut, print, that's a wrap everybody. We're over budget, the trial scene's cut. See ya at the Oscars!"<BR>-"Robert Blake"</p>