Donnie Darko
Franks Eye

Unanswered Questions

Even though the main explanation is consistent and ties the whole movie together there are still a few parts of the movie that are not explained and have to rely on theory. Here are some of those questions with possible explanations and some common mistakes people make.

What Creates The Tangent Universe

Time PortalWhy exactly does a Tangent Universe (TU) occur? Are they a natural phenomenon or are they artificially created. There is one theory that scientists in the future build a machine that somehow causes a rip in time back in the past. Another theory is it could have been caused by Alien involvement.

Quite a common thought is Frank saving Donnie in the beginning is the cause of the TU. Donnie was meant to die and by surviving he altered things which caused the corruption. This is not true though, we are already within the TU when Frank wakes Donnie up. Frank's special powers only work within the TU so he would only be able to wake Donnie after the TU had started.

The same goes for the Artifact not being the cause of the corruption. The jet engine appears several minutes after the TU had started. The Philosophy of Time Travel states that the Artifact is the first sign of evidence that a TU has occurred.

The First Jet Engine

The ArtifactOne major question is where does the jet engine in the beginning of the movie come from originally? If it came from the future where exactly and what day did it come from?

A common answer to this question is it's the same engine Donnie sends through the portal from the plane his mother and sister were on. The engine travels through time and lands on Donnie's house. It's exactly the same event as the end of the film only the first time round Donnie survives.

This is extremely unlikely though as the portals are just a gateway between the two Universes. The first engine lands in the Tangent Universe (TU) so if it came through a portal it would have to come from the Primary Universe (PU). The engine Donnie rips of the plane at the end is from the TU and travels through a portal into the PU so there is no way it can be the same event repeating.

If it did come from a future point in the PU once the corruption is fixed by Donnie that future event won't happen now so we will never find out exactly how it occurred.

Another theory is the Tangent Universe is a copy of the Primary Universe but as it's being formed there is a glitch or copying error. This error produces a duplicate engine that is then dumped into Donnie's bedroom. This anomaly makes the TU even more unstable and it must be sent into the PU.

Roberta Sparrow: The Philosophy Of Time Travel

Roberta Sparrow (Grandma Death)Roberta Sparrow writes the book "The Philosophy Of Time Travel" which helps guide Donnie but how exactly did she know all this information? There are a few plausible explanations for this. It seems like she had a similar experience herself so either she was a Living Receiver or one of the Manipulated Dead in a previous Tangent Universe.

Both options would in theory give her all the information required. If she was a Living Receiver she would obviously have known what to do and the Manipulated Dead have a large understanding of what is happening within a Tangent Universe. It's possible she may have somehow retained some of the information from her experience once the Primary Universe started up again.

Does Donnie Have To Die

Donnie DarkoThis subject is one of the most debated parts of the movie. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking Donnie waking up and cheating death in the beginning is what caused the Tangent Universe (TU) to occur. The assumption is then once the Primary Universe is restored Donnie stays in bed otherwise he risks causing another TU to start and the whole cycle will repeat. This theory is not correct though, Donnie and Frank have nothing to do with the creation of the TU.

We hear about other Living Receivers in The Philosophy of Time Travel who were killed by the Artifact they returned. If we include Donnie then it seems the Living Receiver always dies once the Primary Universe is restored. The question is what would happen if Donnie got out of bed again and survived? The moment we see Donnie laughing in bed at the end the Primary Universe is already restored. If Donnie got out of bed and dodged the second engine after that then in theory nothing would change as the corruption is already fixed.

Another important point is whether Donnie chooses to die. The Donnie we see in bed at the end is not the same Donnie from the last 28 days. How much knowledge he has of what happened in the TU is very questionable and it’s quite unlikely he knows he is about to die.

The question of destiny plays quite a big part here, Donnie was meant to die but Frank saved him. It’s possible he was chosen as the Living Receiver because his life is now expendable; he is going to die anyway. Once back in the real world it's Donnie's destiny to die.

March 26th 2016 | 11:01:04

still ever wondering movie..... have to google....

March 25th 2016 | 3:47:37

****His English Teacher gives Donnie and the class a book and says "maybe you could read this with Frank.".
How does she know about Frank and abou Donnie's interest in time travel?***
She knows nothing about time travel, if you watch the film again one of the students task is to write a poem, Ms Pom asks who frank is in the poem and he replys a 6ft bunny rabbit, or something like that, pretty sure she was joking around with him.

March 24th 2016 | 8:17:11

We have discuss this movie about fifteen years.
what a legendary movie !!

"read this with Frank"
March 19th 2016 | 10:07:49

His English Teacher gives Donnie and the class a book and says "maybe you could read this with Frank.".
How does she know about Frank and abou Donnie's interest in time travel?

Thanks for this excellent site!

March 4th 2016 | 16:39:50

Perhaps in the end Donnie had retained some knowledge of what had happened over the last 28 days. But notice the second time around Frank didn't call Donnie out of the house. The question is does Donnie have to die. If he had gotten out of bed how would the primary universe have reacted and would the tangent universe have repeated. Donnie knew something. He didn't have to die in order to stop the tangent universe. He chose to die because he remembered what Roberta Sparrow said "Every living creature dies alone" he died so he wouldn't die alone and so Gretchen, whom liked him and he liked back, wouldn't be killed by Frank.

March 4th 2016 | 12:58:34

aye i cannae believe that the tangent universe was created because f stupid ass scientists

February 19th 2016 | 13:08:16

Remember what Roberta Sparrow whispered to Donnie when his dad almost ran her over? "Every living creature on Earth dies alone". Basing from the explanation, that Roberta Sparrow was a Living Receiver and is a living proof, is alone because she lived as a Living Receiver. The physics teacher said that she changed over night after writing her book. Meaning, she became crazy. So I think that it's a possibility that after being a Living Receiver and lived, she changed and in the end, she spent her whole life and is probably going to die alone and that's what Donnie was afraid of from the start.

February 4th 2016 | 5:56:18

Donnie does not want to just simply get out of bed at the end. This scene has nothing to do with all of this "Tangental Universe" mumbo jumbo that the director decided to reveal on the DVD. Throughout the film Donnie struggled with the concept of death and the possibility of dying alone, a very real existential fear for a very intelligent adolescent. As Donnie progresses the plot he eventually learns that he does not in fact die alone, his therapist suggesting that Frank to Donnie was his own god and that with Donnie's death there would only be Donnie and Frank, no one else. This also alludes to Frank the hallucination not actually being the Frank that gets shot in the eye, rather that Frank the hallucination is really either Donnie's ego or a higher power taking physical form. After all, the separate universe CAN only be created by a Godly force, as described by the Philosophy of Time Travel. At this point in the movie, along with other allusions to higher power (think "The Last Temptation of Christ" being played alongside the "Evil Dead"), it is safe to assume that Donnie finally came to terms with existential distress at the end, hence why he was laughing joyfully in bed at the end.

January 22nd 2016 | 23:19:28

how do we know all the stuff written here about what happens after???

January 15th 2016 | 4:17:26

I first saw this movie at 13 in 2003 and though I didn't understand all of it, I always thought the jet engine from the plane went through a black hole and that's what created the dysfunction in the time line.

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Gretchen Ross - Manipulated Dead
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