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.

July 3rd 2014 | 18:59:25

Man of today's civilization wants to know it all. He doesn't know of how big is the universe or how small is the point where the matter meets the energy, or in which dimensional concept should this be explainable. Time travel and multyverse defy human logic and perception. Only details out of general concept can be clear, while skeleton of the reality stays an eternal question of the human as we know it. Author is aware of this, and he makes a poetic innuendo on the subject, a very good one.

July 2nd 2014 | 2:46:08

Donnie Darko: If you see your future, that is like time travel.
Physics Teacher: If you could see your pre-formed destiny, you will be given the choice to not carry them out, making all other destines come to an end.

This is richard kelly's interpretation of the reason behind human sorrow. It may be your destiny to suffer. It may be the purpose of your life encoded (flashes of programming code in directors cut) in the simulation we live in. Should you not obey your encoded destiny, the system crashes and God is alone. Richard Adams is God and we are the rabits, a fiction.

Shawn Baker
June 26th 2014 | 22:15:56

At first I did imagine that Frank was the one who caused the house to shake. He was the one who drops off Donni sister right before he pulls off and honk the horn. So where was Donni? at the golf course. So where did Frank go? To the PU. Donni was already asleep and not at home so Frank there for had been in the TU before meeting up with Donni sister.

June 23rd 2014 | 23:04:25

Does Frank's eye have to do with Gretchen?

June 21st 2014 | 21:14:03

Why did Donnie pretend to stab Frank in the eye?

June 21st 2014 | 21:14:02

Why did Donnie pretend to stab Frank in the eye?

June 19th 2014 | 4:04:42

He may also believe that Heaven transcends the Primary and Tangent universes and that the Gretchen he knew will be there.

June 19th 2014 | 4:03:31

He may have even thought that in some roundabout way death would bring him into heaven with the Gretchen from the Tangent Universe. Since he doesn't have full knowledge of the TU and PU it's understandable for him to assume this.

June 19th 2014 | 4:01:23

I believe Donnie chose to die because he wanted to take all the pain and misery of the last 28 days and replace them with something beautiful. That beautiful thing, in his case, would be death because he can never unsee what he has seen and been through and he would rather just sleep for eternity.

June 14th 2014 | 1:06:50

i see so many alternative explanations. many make sense, and truly make me think. and as i sit here and think about all these good points that people are making and helping me think about the whole movie and what its really about... i also come to realize how much im thinking. think. think. think. and then it hit me. what if, maybe, there was a purpose to the concept of making us think. this movie is based on the concept of the universe, and humans ever do is think about the universe & the possibilities of time travel and alternate universes.. and we have to think and think and think. this movie is based on the idea of all 3 things, so what if maybe the purpose of this movie is to make us think. but not just think and get frustrated over the fact how we do not have answers, but to think about how it is okay not to have the answers.

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Jim Cunningham - Manipulated Living
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