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Donnie Darko

Wasting My Time, You’re Just Wasting Time

::: L. Jablonski

On eighties pop music, intelligence, and analyzing film ::: Click here to read the full text.

Posted by: editor on Apr 04, 2005 | 6:18 pm

::: pheedback :::

(CONT’D)In this movie Donnie is the catalyst that usually sparks feverish emotion in the characters. If Donnie did not ask Gretchen out, or if he did not flood the school (relating to the wrongful accusations placed upon the seemingly suspicions thug-like characters), or if he did not burn down that house so that a Kitty-Porn collection could be found (then onto Rose eventually having to leave for the night with Sparkle Motion), or if he did not decide to have a party for his sisters acceptance into Harvard, or go on his adventure to Sparrow’s home , Gretchen could have been saved as well as Frank.

You see even if you only look into one of the many beautiful facets of this film then you still get a lot from it. To say it is just a success for the sheer fact that it is incomprehensible is ridicules (and on the human emotional spectrum a product of fear). If you take this film and use it as a tool, rather than a piece of entertainment you will be able to see that there is a lot more than time travel, knotted storylines, and fantastical coincidences.


Posted by: Hale on Dec 06, 06 | 3:04 am ::: Profile

As a fellow poster tried to point out, a film that is confusing is not always the work of pure genius. In fact many films throughout history have been declared masterpieces for the sheer fact that they are impossible (to the regular masses) to get any sort of point from, and don’t even look for some sort of stunning validation where all the pieces fit into place and the large picture is revealed. Donnie Darko could have very well been one of these movies, but where Donnie Darko makes sense is in the fine points, in the subtle nuances and sub-plots.

Donnie Darko is a very human movie, and it serves to the human problems everyone faces day to day. The more self-aware you are it seems, the harder everyday life becomes. You think about how you affect people, and how that is going to not only alter what you do but what they do as well. This movie helps us to realize that in some way or another the decisions we make have severe consequences, no matter how small of a decision. Now I am not going to get carried away because yes, maybe our choices in girlfriends in high school are not going to end in death. Maybe even our choice in how to take on the world might not end up getting people fired, and getting books banned. All off this taken into account it is still a fundamental fact of life that what you do as an individual not only affects you, or your circle of friends, or the people in your town but it affects everyone in some way.

The idea of degrees of separation between people is also explored in the film. It seems to me that in this broad spectrum of characters all of them are conceded in some way or another. From the recluse Sparrow to the unsuspecting Gretchen who end up being villain and victim to each other. These two are an unlikely pair to eventually end up in such a personal situation (be it that Sparrow is actually responsible for Gretchen’s death), and they are connected by an unlikely character at first- Donnie. (CONT’D)

Posted by: Hale on Dec 06, 06 | 3:03 am ::: Profile

I bloody love this film!

It's the mystery of it. I admit, I don't fully understand it, and that is it's huge appeal for me. For many years I've watched David Lynch's Eraserhead and attempted to make sense of its nightmarish surrealism, but even now, some 20 plus years later, the movie remains an enigma. And I suspect the same wil be true of Donnie Darko.

Movies of this type strike a chord with us - they represent a deep mystery that confounds us yet we cannot do without it. It's much like the mysteries of life, death, and the universe. All of our spiritual, religious, and philosophical musings are based on the fact that we know so very little about anything. We don't REALLY know if there's a god; we don't REALLY know what happens after we die; we don't REALLY know who killed Kennedy; we don't REALLY know if time travel is possible. If we did one day learn all the answers to everything it would destroy our mysteries, and promptly destroy our souls as we'd have nothing left to strive towards.

Donnie Darko is one of those movies. We may never really know what it means - if indeed it means anything at all. And perhaps we're better for not knowing, as it has inspired us to look deep, to question, to ponder, to THINK! Movies which are transparent tend to come and go. Movies which put a bit of mystery into our lives tend to inspire us in many ways.

I bloody love this film!!!

Posted by: Rebeldog on Feb 25, 06 | 7:37 pm ::: Profile

smurfs are communist

and possible homo-utopian

google it

Posted by: tylerwillis on Jan 06, 06 | 3:59 am ::: Profile

About the article: I loved this line:

"Likewise, when Donnie is suspended for telling uptight teacher Kitty Farmer to “forcibly insert the LifeLine card into her anus” (not that there would be any room due to the stick already firmly in place there),"


I think we try to make sense of the film because there does seem to be a thematic and plot coherence to it. First we work out the plot and character details, observe the themes, think the have to add up to something...what?

Time travel not being the real point of the film, but a vehicle to comment on something else, makes sense. But we still need to account for the fact that it's real within the world of the film, real to Donnie. I think it'd be a mistake to think all the characters are "just in Donnie's mind." They're real, real to him and in themselves. He does have a specific perception of them that is real to -him-, though.

Donnie Darko as a Holden Caulfield type character makes sense. So I think the Other Joey saying the film is about internal conflicts makes sense.

This picks up on the article here: the good guys were "open" and the bad guys were "closed," the bad guys were preaching love vs. fear, the good guys were actually choosing between the two.

Gargamel: Gargoyle and Mel Gibson, everyone's favorite pseudo-Catholic. Of course :).


Posted by: Jim Rovira on Sep 28, 05 | 1:34 pm ::: Profile

Maybe when Donnie dies in the aircrash we discover what happens after death (you really do die alone). He gets to play around with the possibilities of future time, a future time where the central character is him, from the jet crash onwards it is Donnie Darko's world and he is the only person who is safe in it. All other characters can die and leave him alone, fading memories from his dying mind. Maybe Donnie (with the help of his subconscious, Frank) gets to manipulate the world and suddenly learns just how difficult it is being God. On the one hand you can create good by revealing the darkness of Jim Cunningham when burning down his house and on the other you create darkness by visiting grandma death, which ends in the death of gretchen. Maybe he is laughing at the end because he is so relieved that he does not have this control, that he is grateful that he lives in a world where there is no central character. And as we are in Donnie Darko's world, is Frank Cunningham really guilty of these crimes, or are these part of Donnie's warped mind. I dunno, just waffling here. Does any of what i have written make sense, if it doesn't then I must have understood the film. But one thing is clear, it's a great film.

Posted by: Shamporter on Aug 18, 05 | 3:52 am ::: Profile

Like most people who watch DD, I tried to work out what was going on rationally, and always there was something that didn't fit. I gave up in the end and assumed that the writer wanted to just mess with people's minds. But now, the explanation which satisfies me the most is that the whole thing is just a dream. Okay, bear with me...

Donnie is mentally ill, lets say some form of depression. He decides to take his own life; an overdose before he goes to bed. As he lays there, he justifies his actions by coming up with the story that we watch.

I've almost been in that position myself. Everyone is saying "things will get better", and "something might happen tomorrow which could change your life entirely", and "if you kill yourself, it will harm your family".

So, he imagines a scenario in which even if he met the girl of his dreams, she and his family would still be better of without him... well, they would be alive. He justifies taking his own life to save others.

The only bit that we see for real is towards the end when he is in bed, laughing quietly to himself. From this perspective, it's a very empty, sad film. But the saddest thing is that somewhere, right now, someone is seeing their own version of it, just as they breathe their last breath.

Posted by: :-) mark on Aug 16, 05 | 3:31 pm ::: Profile

Why do people always have to use "God" as an explanation for everything. It is such a primitive characteristic of humanity. Can I remind all of you God-fearing that Religion was the creation by a very clever person (no I want only say man). The intention: to control the masses by giving them a serious of rules (beliefs) and instilling fear into them for non-conformation. A very primitive institution indeed but yet so many cling to it.

Posted by: K700 on Jul 15, 05 | 9:22 pm ::: Profile

Okay, it's nearly impossible to work for years on a movie WITHOUT filling it with meaning. You think a writer who crafts such clever situations, witty dialogue, and skillful plot progression wouldn't be capable of a few levels of meaning?

One thing that's bugging me is the four elements. Donnie controls fire with arson, water with a flood, and air with his final submission to the jet engine. Where does he control earth?

Posted by: Nick Douglas on Jun 11, 05 | 3:23 pm ::: Profile

My theories on the "Big Mysteries" behind this movie:

1. Richard Kelly (like me) was about 13 years old (an age when you start to realize there is a world outside your hometown) when "The Last Temptation of Christ" was the big news story (does October 1988 sound familiar?)...and probably (like me) snuck in to see it because his parents told him he couldn't.

2. A lot of people (but apparently not enough) in 1988 thought the world would end if George Bush was elected president.

3. This grand period in history was also wedged in the middle of one of the greatest movie trilogies of all, not the, not Star, not Indiana Jones...but "Back to the Future(s) I,II and III"

3. 1988 was also one of the worst years in aviation history...the roof was ripped off an plane flying over Hawaii, US Navy shoots down an Iranian Airliner, a Delta 727 crashes during takeoff in Dallas after pilots joked about crashing before takeoff and Pan Am 103 is sabotaged over Scotland.

3. So...One day while sniffing Sharpies and playing "The Smurfs" on Nintendo NES with his buddies, he might have said "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if somebody made, like, a Last Temptation of Christ movie where the Devil (Frank) showed Christ (Donnie) what the world (Middlesex) would be like if he didn't sacrifice (jet engine smushing him in bed) himself...but, like, after he found out, he could, like, travel back in time with the help of Doc Brown (Dr. Minnitoff) and...dude, check it out...instead of a DeLorean, he could drive, like, a Taurus stationwagon and go back and die so the world (and Jena Malone) would be saved?!?!?! Radical!"

4. He then went on to film school and realized his dream.

Good movie, though ... very entertaining, good music and a wicked-cool demonic bunny mask.

Posted by: seamac on May 31, 05 | 3:10 pm ::: Profile

I think, all the "puzzle" aspects of Donnie Darko are really nothing but an affectation; a way of using pop surface to dramatise internal conflicts (albeit a far better-executed one that has been used anywhere else outside of anime). There's a very good reason for its cult sucess that has nothing to do with "interpretations" or sciencefiction or anything.

It's Jake Gylenlhaal's Donnie. He's nothing short of the most iconic, archetypal teen of the half of our generation not satisfed with the selfish wasteful uselessness of so much of culture, this despite the character technically being of the previous generation.

Those of us who grew up in outrage aginast this world: we are all Donnie Darko.

Posted by: The Other Joey on May 15, 05 | 5:10 am ::: Profile

At the end you said: "Imagine what we could do with Smurfs."

I'm thinking: aren't the Smurfs really just an allegory for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? They are all blue, which is the Virgin Mary's historic symbolic color, they are all asexual men who worship their culture's sole woman, Smurfette, who is untouchable, perfect and pure (and thus obviously IS the Virgin Mary) and their evil enemy is Gargamel, a mixture of "gargoyle" and ... oh wait, I've lost my train of thought. Anyone have further evidence to complete this theory-in-training-pants? Fact is, I grew up without a TV and have yet to see a single episode, so all my knowledge of Smurfs was gleaned from Donnie Darko.

Posted by: publisher on Apr 27, 05 | 3:17 pm ::: Profile

But then, maybe it all does mean something.

Posted by: thain on Apr 10, 05 | 3:46 am ::: Profile

An esoteric enigma, a quintessential quagmire....oh, puh-leeze! The critics who hail this film as a masterpiece didn't really "get it", and they even admit it, but pretend to have glimpses of its truth because they are too embarrassed to be completely honest and admit, if you don't get it, you must not be amongst the intelligentsia elite!!!

But what really makes them all look like fools is the fact that there is nothing to "get." I imagine the reasoning goes something like this: That's sooooo incredibly deep that it's super-confusing so therefore it must be a really cryptic film made by a genius! As long as critics and moviegoers insist that "confusing" and "difficult to decipher" equate with "masterpiece" and "genius," all a director has to do is create something that makes people feel like there is some magnaminous grand scheme to the disjointed puzzle, and that it is the head-scratching moviegoers who are just not bright enough to detect that one puzzle piece that pulls it all together. Oh, the mysteries spun by those who are so infinitely more brilliant than the confounds my plebian and simpleton brain!!!! Hail to the holder of the Secret Truth!! (Whatev!)

Posted by: kiah on Apr 08, 05 | 8:02 pm ::: Profile

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