Wasting My Time, You’re Just Wasting Time
On eighties pop music, intelligence, and analyzing film
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 otherwise…read:Ah, 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 masses…..it confounds my plebian and simpleton brain!!!! Hail to the holder of the Secret Truth!! (Whatev!)
But then, maybe it all does mean something.
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.
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.
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 time…no, not the Godfather…no, not Star Wars…no, 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
About the article: I loved this line:
“Likewise, when Donnie is suspended for telling uptight teacher Kitty Farmer to ďforcibly insert the LifeLine card into her anusĒ (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 :).
smurfs are communist
and possible homo-utopian
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!!!
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 donít 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 Gretchenís death), and they are connected by an unlikely character at first- Donnie. (CONTíD)
(CONTíD)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 Sparrowís 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.
SORRY YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO READ THE MOST RECENT POST SECOND.
Throughout the movie ‚ÄúDonny Darko‚ÄĚ there are many biblical allusions, including references to Genesis 3:15, Luke 4:3-6 and finally John 3:16.
Let us first examine what The Bible says at Genesis 3:15 ‚Äú‚Ä¶You shall bruise him in the head, and he will bruise you in the heel‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ The main focus in this scripture is, ‚Äú‚Ä¶You shall bruise him in the head‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ this is referring to when Christ Jesus will put and end to Satan the Devil and his destructive powers by giving him a fatal blow to the head. This relates to Donny Darko through the scene when Donny stabs Frank in the eye with the knife, this then, allows Donny to begin to break free from the ‚Äúpower‚ÄĚ Frank seems to possess over him. In this scene Donny is acting as a representation of Christ and Frank represents Satan. And ultimately Donny is able to break free from the power Frank has over him by stabbing him in the eye or in other words, ‚Äúbrus[ing] him in the head‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
The second scripture we will examine is found at Luke 4:3-6 and it reads, ‚ÄúThe devil said to him, ‚ÄėIf you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread‚Äô‚Ä¶Next the devil led him up and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. ‚ÄėAll this dominion I will give you‚Ä¶you have only to do homage to me.‚Äô‚Ä¶‚ÄôIf you are the son of God, throw yourself down; for Scripture says, He will give his angels orders to take care of you.‚ÄĚ These are three example of temptations placed on Jesus from the devil, the devil wanted Jesus to denounce god and worship him. These verses relate to Donny Darko in that Frank tempted Donny to flood the school, and to burn down Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house. Frank wanted to take Donny away from the right course of action and tempt him to behave in a way that made him seem evil. Frank represents pure evil, the devil, and Donny in a sense embodies Christ in that Frank tempted Donny in the same manner that the devil tempted Christ.
The final scripture we will be looking at is John 3:16 it says, ‚ÄúGod loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten son‚Ä¶.that through him the world might be saved.‚ÄĚ This final scripture shows that God sent his son to be killed as a ‚Äúransom‚ÄĚ for man‚Äôs sins, so that through him others may live. By entering this sort of parallel universe Donny is able to see that he has the choice to live or die. If he decides to die Gretchen will be able to live however, if he had decided to live Gretchen would have died. Just as Jesus was able to save man through the sacrifice of his human life, Donny was able to save Gretchen and many others by choosing to die himself. Through this Donny practices a self-sacrificing attitude and in the course of this decision Donny relates to Christ in that both gave their lives in order to save the lives of others.
It can be thought that the director included these scenes to reveal to the audience that Donny is a genuine person, and not truly crazy like everyone assumes. He embodies Christ by giving Frank a figurative ‚Äú‚Ä¶bruise in the head‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ just as Jesus will bruise the devil in the head. Also in that both Donny and Christ were tempted by a powerful presence, with the hopes of bringing them into sin. And finally in that both Donny and Christ embody a self-sacrificing attitude by freely giving their lives to save others
Karlina and David
Intertextuality- “The Philosophy of Time Travel”
The film “Donnie Darko” is directly related to a short book written by Roberta Sparrow, also known as “Grandma Death,” called “The Philosophy of time travel.” Throughout this book, many quotes can be referenced to further find meaning to the film. By analyzing the quotes in the book, the audience can discover what the events in the film are about and how they connect to the actions of Donnie and other secondary characters.
To begin, in chapter one of “The Philosophy of Time Travel,” entitled The Tangent Universe, it is stated that this “fourth dimension” called the “tangent universe” consists of “incidents” that appear to be “corrupted and rare.” In the film, Donnie begins to experience events in his every day life that are “corrupted and rare.” Further on in this chapter, it is explained that “if a tangent universe occurs… it will only sustain itself for no longer that several weeks.” That quote is related to the film, as it is known to Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, which is “several weeks”
In chapter two, Water and Metal, “water is the barrier element for the construction of time travel” and “metal is the transitional element for the construction of artifact vessels.” Water is seen as a “barrier element” in the film as Frank the rabbit appears through what seems to be a window blocked by water. The metal is seen to be an “artifact” when it falls onto Donnie’s room which somehow opens up this “tangent universe” that is now in Donnie’s hands to close. Chapter four, called The Artifact and the Living, states “when a tangent universe occurs, those living nearest to the vortex will find themselves in the epicenter of a dangerous new world. Artifacts provide the first sign that a tangent universe has occurred.” Donnie is the one “living closest to the vortex” which explains the events occurring in this “dangerous new world.” The metal artifact, the fallen engine, broke the primary universe giving the “sign” of the tangent universe.
Chapter six, entitled The Living Receiver, proves that Donnie is the chosen receiver of the events going on around him. “The Living Receiver is chosen to guide the artifact into its position for its journey back to the primary universe.” Donnie must close the tangent universe, which will make everything return to the primary universe and prevent all incidents that will occur in the future. Donnie, now identified as the “living receiver,” is “blessed with fourth dimensional powers.” For example, “the ability to conjure fire,” which is shown when he burns down Jim Cunningham’s house, “and water,” as shown when he floods the school. Clearly, because of all these strange events occurring in Donnie’s life, he is the living receiver; however, “no one knows how or why a receiver will be chosen.”
Also in chapter six, the living receiver “is often tormented by terrifying dreams, visions, and auditory hallucinations during this time within the tangent universe.” Once begun, the tangent universe will haunt Donnie’s “dreams” and mind which in turn cause these strange “visions” of Frank the Rabbit. Frank is a person who lives within the tangent universe, which is why he can contact Donnie since he has now become the living receiver.
In the film ‚ÄúDonnie Darko,‚ÄĚ there are numerous references to the number eight. Here are just a few: the countdown (28:06:42:12) adds up to 88; the year the movie takes place in is 1988; the election referred to in the movie ended on November 8, 1988; and Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house was extinguished sometime after 8:00pm. Most of these references are brief, but the amount of references to the number eight can only mean it is of high importance to understanding the meaning of the film. First, however, the meaning of the number eight in biblical times must be understood. In Christian religion, the number eight is believed to symbolize new beginning, new birth, or new creation.
To solidify the meaning of the number eight as being super important, the small but mighty references to the number eight must first be brought to attention. These references are clear as to what they mean, and they help create a basis on which to fully understand the later reference considered the major one. The first small reference to the number eight also happens to actually be the first reference to the number eight in the film. While sitting at the dinner table, and after her older sister talks about making children, little Samantha asks the question ‚Äúwhen will I be able to make children?‚ÄĚ Donnie replies by saying ‚Äúnot until after 8th grade.‚ÄĚ In most societies, post 8th grade typically refers to a time most associated with high school; which also happens to be a time when kids begin to experiment. This can be seen as a new beginning or new creation for most kids since it brings so many new ideas (sex, drugs, alcohol, partying, etc) to their attention that can potentially change their future lives forever. The next reference to the number eight is heard on the news report covering Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house being burned down. The news reporter says Jim‚Äôs house was fully extinguished around 8:00 p.m. This also around the time when firefighters discover Jim‚Äôs hidden kiddie porn stash. This discovery can be seen as a new beginning or new birth for those that followed his teachings since it revealed a dark secret about Jim that changes the way people will look at him and follow his teachings. The next and final important small reference, although in some ways not mentioned directly in the film, has to do with the Presidential election going on in the film. The Presidential election that takes place in the move, which happens to take place in 1988, ends on November 8, 1988. This date can be seen as bringing a new beginning to the United States since it brought forth a change in leadership and new policies. Although small, these three reference help bring understanding to how the number eight helps unlock the meaning behind the movie. Through these three references, it can be said the number eight is strongly connected to the Christian belief that the number eight symbolizes new birth, new creation, or new beginning. This connection is very important in understanding the significance of the next reference to the number eight and how it helps unlock the films meaning.
The next reference to the number eight is the most important to unlocking the meaning of the film. This reference is the countdown Frank tells Donnie of until the world comes to an end: 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds. When added together, these numbers add up to 88. These two number eights, which can‚Äôt be coincidence, highlight the importance of this number. In the movie, 28:06:42:12 from when Frank tells Donnie the world is going to end; Donnie travels back in time and dies. Furthermore, Donnie knows the plane engine is going to fall on his room at this moment and lets this happen. This can be seen as a Jesus-like action, with Donnie sacrificing himself for the better good, which brings the world a new birth or new beginning. Furthermore, the 28:06:42:12 connection to Donnie‚Äôs death doesn‚Äôt stop there. When Donnie‚Äôs mother calls and leaves a message about taking the red eye flight back home, and if listened closely, an announcement saying ‚Äúflight 2806 will board at gate 42 at midnight‚ÄĚ can be heard in the background. It can be best guessed that this was the flight the mother and little sister took, which also happens to be the supposed flight the engine came from. This flight‚Äôs plane type happens to be a 747, and when added together, these numbers equal eighteen; another reference to the number eight. So flight 2806, which happens to board at gate 42 at midnight happens to be a 747 whose engine happens to crash into Donnie‚Äôs room 28 days and 6 hours and 42 minutes and 12 seconds from which Frank warns Donnie the world is going to end; this also happens to be the day Donnie discovers time travel. All of this can‚Äôt be pure coincidence. The number eight has to be of huge significance to unlocking the films meaning. It helps shine some light on what the film is trying to tell its audience.
Upon viewing the film Donnie Darko for the second time, the film‚Äôs extensive use of numerology became apparent. That is, the number 8 appears unusually frequently to the point where there must be a reason for its appearance. The most obvious occurrence is in the setting of 1988, which appears repeatedly on screen with the countdown to the end of the universe. Frank‚Äôs countdown of 28:06:42:12 starts on midnight of October 2, 1988. This countdown is a much more obscure reference to the number 8, since it isn‚Äôt doesn‚Äôt appear until the series of numbers is summated, which gives a sum of 88. Another occurrence is in the dinner scene where Donnie‚Äôs little sister, Samantha, asks when can she ‚Äúsqueeze one out.‚ÄĚ To this, Donnie responds, ‚Äúnot until 8th grade.‚ÄĚ Then, during therapy, Donnie reveals his fear of being alone, or monophobia. He tells Dr. Thurman the story of his dog, who crawled under the porch to die alone when Donnie was 8 years old.
The most interesting part of the appearance of the number 8 is not simply its frequency, but its symbolic meaning in Christianity. Because the week consists of 7 days, the 8th day represents the beginning of a new period or the first of a new series. Thus, Sunday, is considered both the 8th day and the first day of the week. Christians show their appreciation for this new beginning by designating Sunday as the resting day. In Christianity, it is believed that the new world order will begin on the 8th day. For this reason, the number 8 symbolizes the coming of the Messiah. (This is interesting because Donnie Darko is often considered a Christ Figure, but that‚Äôs a whole other topic)
Great. So 8 comes up a lot in Donnie Darko and it -along with Sunday- symbolizes a new era or beginning. How exactly does all of this connect? Well, as previously mentioned, the tangent universe began precisely at 12 AM on October 2, 1988. This day was of course Sunday! So because the tangent universe begins on a Sunday, which Christians consider to be the beginning of a new period, it is in fact connected to the religion that Donnie is reluctant to accept. The idea of a tangent universe seems to contradict religion because it’s an alternate universe that digresses from the primary universe. But, due to its date of creation, it may be counter-intuitively created by God. Because Donnie may not be entirely aware of the significance of the day the tangent universe started, it may be a subtle hint from the director, Richard Kelly, that the belief in God does not mean that strange events, like the creation of a tangent universe or time travel can‚Äôt happen, it may even be part of his plan.
In the movie ‚ÄúDonnie Darko,‚ÄĚ Donnie is not schizophrenic, but instead is a Christ figure. Like Christ, Donnie is given the opportunity to choose to live or die, in order to save the people that he loves. The Tangent Universe can be seen as a ‚Äúdream‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúglimpse‚ÄĚ into what would have happened had Donnie died from the jet engine. Thus, Donnie‚Äôs ‚Äútrip‚ÄĚ into the Tangent Universe most likely occurs in between the time when he falls asleep and when the jet engine crashes into his house. Like God is to Christ in the Bible, Frank is to Donnie in the movie. In the Bible, when Jesus is contemplating whether to sacrifice himself or not, God guides him to make the right decision. Likewise, when Donnie is in the Tangent Universe, Frank guides him to make his ultimate decision to sacrifice himself for those that he loves.
Like Christ, Donnie attempts to fix the things that are wrong in the world such as revealing Jim Cunningham as a child molester. In the end, both Christ and Donnie realize that the only way that they can make everything better is by sacrificing themselves. When Donnie and Gretchen leave the movie after Donnie burns down Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house, the movie marquis changes to ‚ÄúThe Last Temptation of Christ.‚ÄĚ This reveals that Donnie knows that this is his last attempt at saving the world because he is beginning to realize that he cannot save the world without sacrificing himself. In a similar manner, Christ realized in the Bible that his last attempt at saving his people would not work without him sacrificing himself. Furthermore, when Donnie is reading his poem in class, one of the lines says, ‚ÄúI will deliver the children back to their doorsteps / And send the monsters back to the underground / I’ll send them back to a place where no one else can see them / Except for me / Because I am Donnie Darko.‚ÄĚ The ‚Äúmonsters‚ÄĚ that Donnie refers to in his poem can be seen as the evils in the world. He believes that ‚Äúno one else can see them‚ÄĚ because he is the one that is meant to save the world through sacrifice, like Christ. For example, when Donnie burns down Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house and the basement is revealed as a ‚Äúkiddie pornography dungeon,‚ÄĚ Donnie is the only one in the movie who was able to reveal this evil.
On Halloween night, when Gretchen and Donnie are attacked by the school bullies in Grandma Death‚Äôs cellar, Donnie says to one of the bullies ‚Äúdeus ex machina,‚ÄĚ which literally means ‚ÄúGod from the machine.‚ÄĚ In other words, Donnie is revealing that in a way he is like a Christ figure and is acting as the savior in the movie. In Jim Cunningham‚Äôs ‚Äúeducational‚ÄĚ movies, he mentions that drugs, premarital sex, and alcohol are ‚Äúresults of fear.‚ÄĚ Only after Donnie falls to all three temptations does the climax of the movie occur. Similarly, in the Bible, Christ is tempted three separate times just like Donnie.
Therefore, perhaps Donnie Darko should be seen as a hero in the movie instead of as a crazy teenager with schizophrenia. When Gretchen questions Donnie about his name, saying it sounds like ‚Äúsome sort of superhero or something,‚ÄĚ and he replies, ‚ÄúWhat makes you think I‚Äôm not?‚ÄĚ it further reveals his need or impulse to save the world and eliminate the evils in it, just as a superhero or Christ would. In the end, Donnie is a hero because he saves all of the people he loves by sacrificing himself.
Director Richard Kelly‚Äôs cast in Donnie Darko (2001), a movie set in 1988, contains several star-studded names, but one particular choice purposely creates a satirical role in the film. Casting Patrick Swayze to play the part of fear-dispelling, love-infusing motivational speaker and pedophile Jim Cunningham was a very ironic selection because his celebrity status in life is paralleled in the film. Patrick Swayze was an acting icon through the 80‚Äôs and 90‚Äôs; he was nominated for three Golden Globes and owns a star on Hollywood‚Äôs walk of fame. This status creates the effect that, when most people look at the back cover of Donnie Darko, and then locate Swayze‚Äôs name, most people will expect him to take the part of a good guy. After all, he was People magazine‚Äôs Sexiest Man Alive in 1991.
Swayze‚Äôs fame stems from his likeable roles in his films. In one of his most popular films, The Outsiders, Swayze must assume the responsibility of his family after his parents die in a car wreck. Swayze‚Äôs character connects to the audience in this selflessness and charity, creating a respected and memorable performance. Another example of Swayze in a popular role is the 1987 romance film, Dirty Dancing; Swayze plays the role of dance instructor, Johny Castle. Castle‚Äôs good looks and dance skills attest to Swayze‚Äôs superstar status for, Patrick Swayze has fanclubs devoted to his characters. The extent of his fame and renown serve in Donnie Darko to create an irony every bit as disturbing as Patrick Swayze is famous.
In Donnie Darko, Patrick Swayze‚Äôs role as a motivational and inspirational speaker seems to closely mirror the popular roles in his other movies, and for this reason, the vast majority of Middlesex love him. The women of the town gawk over him like schoolgirls wondering, ‚ÄúHow is he still single?‚ÄĚ However, director Richard Kelly‚Äôs satirical plan for Cunningham unfolds shortly after Donnie burns Jim‚Äôs house down and Jim‚Äôs horrible secret is revealed: Cunningham had what was described as a ‚ÄúKiddy Porn Dungeon‚ÄĚ in his home. The unveiling of this dark secret shattered his popular reputation and sent shockwaves through his fan base, not only in the movie, but in our world as well.
The importance of Jim Cunningham to the movie as a whole is in his being targeted by Frank. When Frank tells Donnie to burn down Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house, he is starting a chain reaction of events that leads to the collapse of the tangential universe and occurrences. After Jim Cunningham is charged with criminal pornography indictments, the lead mom of sparkle motion rallies to his cause, and thus Donnie‚Äôs mom must chaperone the girls to California. Then, on their flight back, the engine dislodges and kills Donnie. Thus, if Jim Cunningham were not a pedophile, Donnie would have lived.
The fact that such a symbolic and charismatic actor like Patrick Swayze was cast to portray the vile and despicable persona of Jim Cunningham serves to impede the audience from being enlightened to the fact that, as Donnie aptly quipped; Jim Cunningham is ‚Äúthe fucking Antichrist.‚ÄĚ
In the movie Donnie Darko, we are faced with the conflict if Donnie is Schizophrenic or not. As defined in www.faqs.org, Schizophrenia is a ‚Äúpsychotic disorder or group of psychotic disorders that cause a patient to lose touch with reality. It is marked by severely impaired reasoning and emotional instability and can cause violent behavior‚Ä¶ patients are often unable to make sense of the signals they receive from the world around them.‚ÄĚ
Donnie, a teen living in the 80‚Äôs, seems to fall under the definition of Schizophrenia. He views the world differently from his friends and family and this causes ‚Äúviolent behavior.‚ÄĚ In other words, he is advised by Frank, his six-foot tall rabbit ‚Äėfriend,‚Äô to burn Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house and flood the school. His behaviors may be seen as an act of obedience towards Frank, but as described in faqs.org, it is the behavior caused by schizophrenia. Under that, there is Paranoid Schizophrenia, where a person tends to ‚Äúsuffer from delusions and hallucinations.‚ÄĚ This clearly describes Donnie‚Äôs rabbit friend Frank, who tells him to do things against his will. The site also states, ‚Äúhallucinations often take the form of hearing imaginary voices and a patient may believe that he or she is receiving messages from a supernatural or unknown source.‚ÄĚ Again, this is a direct reference to Donnie‚Äôs condition, where he receives a warning that the world is going to end in exactly 28 days, 06 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.
Although, in the references of the ‚ÄúPhilosophy of Time Travel,‚ÄĚ Grandma Death, the author, gives us another consideration that Donnie is not schizophrenic after all, but the ‚ÄúLiving Receiver‚ÄĚ who is to save the world. It starts as the ‚ÄúTangent Universe,‚ÄĚ where it will be ‚Äúhighly unstable, sustaining itself for no longer than several weeks.‚ÄĚ Here, it references the ‚Äėend of the world‚Äô where it will no longer exist. Donnie, The Living Receiver, ‚Äúis chosen to guide the Artifact into position for its journey back to the Primary Universe.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúNo one knows how or why a Receiver will be chosen.‚ÄĚ This shows that Donnie is supposed to be this ‚Äėhero‚Äô who guides the ‚Äėartifact‚Äô and possibly save the Primary Universe. ‚ÄúThe Living Receiver is often blessed with a Fourth Dimensional Powers. These include increased strength, telekinesis, mind control, and the ability to conjure fire and water.‚ÄĚ Again, this is proof that Donnie is not schizophrenic because he is supposed to gain these powers, and that comes from being the ‚Äėchosen one.‚Äô The book also makes an argument when it states, ‚ÄúThe Living Receiver is often tormented by terrifying dreams, visions and auditory hallucinations during his time within the Tangent Universe.‚ÄĚ Right there, we know that the hallucinations of Frank and his ability to communicate with him is not an act of madness, but what he will go through during the ‚ÄúTangent Universe.‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThese surrounding the Living Receiver, known as the Manipulated, will fear him and try to destroy him.‚ÄĚ In the movie, we see that Frank is shot in the eye, to prevent the cycle from repeating; therefore the statement ‚Äúwill fear him and try to destroy him.‚ÄĚ Also, to prove Donnie is normal, the book states that ‚ÄúThe Manipulated Living are often the close friends and neighbors of the Living Receiver,‚ÄĚ where Frank is possibly close to him or one of his family. Finally, to prove that Donnie must go through this, it demonstrates that ‚Äúthey are prone to irrational, bizarre, and often violent behavior. This is the unfortunate result of their task, which is to assist the Living Receiver in returning the Artifact to the Primary Universe.‚ÄĚ There, it makes complete sense that Donnie, who should be guided by Frank, will have to burn Jim Cunningham‚Äôs house and flood the school, in order to return ‚Äúthe Artifact to the Primary Universe.‚ÄĚ
Overall, the conflict of Donnie‚Äôs schizophrenic behavior is argued between a real definition and the passages from Grandma Death‚Äôs ‚ÄúPhilosophy of Time Travel,‚ÄĚ showing that Donnie is not schizophrenic, but The Living Receiver who is to behave differently in order to save the Primary Universe.
In the article, you say that Donnie is “popping placebos.” I just wanted to say that the placebos in the film are actually very important to the plot of the film. Don’t you find it odd that Dr. Thurman said the pills were made of water rather than sugar, like most placebos? According to the book in the movie, water is a “key element” to time travel. In the one time we see Donnie taking a pill, we also see Frank through the mirror, in the Tangent Universe. So, theoretically, if Donnie had metal, another key to time travel, he would be able to traverse the bridge to the other universe right then and there. At the time, though, he didnt know how to time travel.
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