Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Ten Movies # 8 - Donnie Darko

Basic Movie Summary: During the presidential election of 1988, a teenager named Donnie Darko sleepwalks out of his house one night, and sees a giant, demonic-looking rabbit named Frank, who tells him the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. He returns home the next morning to find that a jet engine has crashed through his bedroom. As he tries to figure out why he survived and tries to deal with people in his town, like the school bully, his conservative health teacher, and a self-help guru, Frank continues to turn up in Donnie's mind, causing him to commit acts of vandalism and worse

Of all the movies that I have ever seen the one that gives me most pause to think is Donnie Darko. Its hits on so many of the themes that I have an interest in. I had heard the movie had a cult following but it wasn't until many years after the movie came out that I saw it on TV. It affected me so much that I watched the repeat airing right away that night. I have read much on the internet about the meaning of the film because its the kind of movie that demands multiple viewing and elicits multiple interpretations of the themes it presents. From all that I have studied my belief is that it comes down to the nature of time travel and belief in God. If you believe in God then you believe that 'He' knows your fate and the direction your life will take. For that reason time travel is IMPOSSIBLE because you cannot do anything to change or affect your life. Basically its predestination and your are basically stuck on that hill hurtling foward towards your inevitable doom. Sucks doesn't it. (Of course this negates Kangs Third Law of Time Travel - conservation of causality - that postulates that time travel doesn't CHANGE your timeline it just creates an alternate time line - so killing your grandfather or Hitler changes nothing in the original timeline - it just creates a new timeline where your grandfather or Hitler are dead. Nothing in your original timeline is altered) Now for some reason Donnie avoids his death by not being in his room when an airplane engine falls through the roof of his house. This creates the alternate timeline that will reset itself 28 days later and brings us to my other point. If there is NO God then your fate is not known or 'written' and you can use time travel to change your destiny - to alter or correct one mistake or in Donnie's case sacrifice his life for the life of the girl that he loves which gives some meaning to the suicidal thoughts and actions that haunt him. The movie ends with his laughter because he realizes that he does have control of his destiny in the most profound of ways. His death can have meaning for himself and the world. Wow...there is a philosophy I can get behind. And does anything creep you out more than Frank...the demonic bunny? YIKES! When the voices start talking to me I hope they sound more like Whoopie Goldberg or Dave Chapelle. That ghetto street speak is so much more comforting than Frank's hollow echo. There are so many aspects to this movie that are unpredictable and errie and its impossible to predict where the movie is going which makes it all the more rich with repeat viewings. The mysteries of the film call out to be solved and it took me many years to give myself a satisying explanation. You can see how I would be drawn to something like that.

Gretchen - "Donnie Darko...what kind of name is that? It sounds like some kind of superhero or something."

Donnie - "What makes you think I am not?"

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