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.

August 27th 2012 | 21:52:39

This movie man; it defines my life experience in a way that can only be understood, rather than explained. It's all well and good being aware of certain things, but it's knowing what to make of it when you know you have to take notice of it. This movie is a saint.

August 26th 2012 | 14:18:15

There is no question of Destiny. If Donnie was meant to die, that means that the TU was meant to exist, because the engine falls on Ds house at first in the TU and only there could he have died. That means his death-destiny only exists a reality with a TU, or a TU is a glitch.

August 26th 2012 | 2:35:48

I remember a news report back in the late 80's or early 90's about a jet engine that had fallen off a plane but they didn't know what plane because no airlines had reported any of there jet planes missing an engine. I wonder if this event might have been some inspiration for this story by Richard Kelly.

August 11th 2012 | 7:03:45

ha yes frank is my real name, i recommend watching the directors cut version of the film. you can watch the movie with the directors commentary during the film as he talks with kevin smith. i'd say it's a wothwhile buy:)

August 8th 2012 | 3:55:41

I totally agree with Brianna's comment. This "explanations" are highly unlikely and Yes, there is only one engine in the whole movie. We will never know the jet engine's inception, the jet engine that falls into Donnie's bedroom is the same jet engine from the plane 28 days later. When Donnie, at the end of the movie, sends the jet engine 28 days back is the same as the jet engine from the we will never where it came from.

August 4th 2012 | 4:16:53

I would just like to inform every one who reads this website that all of this site's contents are the opinion of a viewer of this movie just as everyone else is, and I urge everyone not to take all the things on this website for fact. This person is not the writer, director, or affiliated with the making of the movie. The fact that this site claims it's opinions as "explanations" for the movie's plot is somewhat misleading. Everyone should have their own opinion on the movie plot, and I for one disagree on many of the stands this website takes.

July 31st 2012 | 12:45:59

Scenes of this film I will never understand, but after this film, stuff has being happening to me. This sounds cheesy, because it is just a film, but I just sit in bed till 5 o'clock in the morning just thinking about the film. Some of it is just fright, because of Frank the Rabbit, but after I read this it wasn't about him. Just the entire thought of Parallel Universes and how we all might have been in hundreds, how we could have died multiple times... and we would never know. After I watched it I also had Donnie's dream... when the City is flooded? You could say this is bullshit, but its true.

July 28th 2012 | 17:20:52

Why is everyone saying there are two engines? There isn't. The engine that doesn't kill Donnie is the same engine that Donnie sends back at end, but he just doesn't leave this time. It's all connected, think about it. The engine at the start comes out of no where, it's just an altered version of what should have happened. It falls into his bedroom, then at the end when he sends it back, the past 28 days get erased and the engine gets erased with it. There has only ever been 1 engine. Duh...

July 28th 2012 | 9:57:32

"If the people who die in TU are Manipulated Dead and can contact the Living Receiver through 4th Dimensional Construct then why didn't Gretchen, like Frank, have the same power also. She also died in TU."

I kind of assumed that Gretchens death was the deus ex machina that gave Donnie the opportunity to kill Frank and resolve to fix the wormhole situation. So she already had a role. As well as being his love interst etc.

July 18th 2012 | 9:28:31

If the people who die in TU are Manipulated Dead and can contact the Living Receiver through 4th Dimensional Construct then why didn't Gretchen, like Frank, have the same power also. She also died in TU.

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Jim Cunningham - Manipulated Living
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