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.

November 21st 2012 | 7:15:59

When I step back and look at this movie from a big picture perspective, one scene really stands out to me. When Donnie is talking to the physics teacher about the possibilities of time travel, even after multiple explanations and theories, the physics teacher finally admits that it might just be "an act of god". This scene is a good metaphor for how people will interpret this movie in many ways. A fine example of Occam's Razor at work.

xavi salah
November 15th 2012 | 2:25:05

i like this move its awesome

November 7th 2012 | 3:03:52

i think donnie remember the events and accepted death, thats why he was laughing and went back to sleep.
he knew he had saved the world so he was content to die.

October 30th 2012 | 14:17:27

Storm sandy reminds me of Donnie Darko's Philosophy of Time Travel: "When a Tangent Universe occurs, those living nearest to the Vortex will find themselves at the epicenter of a dangerous new world". Coincidentally this storm will be hitting NYC - an epicentre of a dangerous world, on the same day (30th October) when other vortexes came to visit Donnie Darko's life.

October 26th 2012 | 3:49:01

Bladerunner Emm
October 16th 2012 | 7:22:37

I have watched both versions several times and it is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES!

It has been mentioned that the movie is 'religious'.
Therefore, my interpretation of Donnie's death is that he becomes cognizant of his mortality during his hypnosis sessions with his psychiatrist. On the day Gretchen and Frank die, Donnie makes the conscious decision to manipulate the TU, to restore Gretchen and Frank to life.

Like the sacrificial lamb - and in the example of the Prophet Joshua Ben Joseph - he gives up his life to save his "followers", and discovers the awesome power of true love or AGAPE.

October 11th 2012 | 14:03:54

I think Donnie Darko knew if he survived the accident the second then after 2-3 days Gretchen Ross would come to his life and eventually after 28 days she would die. So after returning back form the TU Donnie made up his mind that he must give up his life in the PU to save Gretchen Ross. Thats the only explanation of Donnie's death.

Mickahol and Treessaa
October 2nd 2012 | 12:10:55

To whomever is responsible for the creation of this film:
"What was your mindset at the time you had the first thought about writing this movie? Please share this info with us and be kind enough to send us some of the drugs you were taking.... obviously your shit is alot better than ours".

September 29th 2012 | 3:22:33

this is movie is mind blowing, it's like getting mind fucked. i loved it. but man was i confused until i researched into it while i watched it, and it made me understand it more.

September 25th 2012 | 21:51:56

TO me the film makes no sense what so ever

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Cherita Chan - Manipulated Living
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