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.


Comments
jamison
July 22nd 2013 | 18:15:22

Technically frank doesn't have special powers, its only within the tangent universe.


a jonathan
May 21st 2013 | 6:44:53

i cant remember exactly where but if i remember correctly it was mentioned somewhere that when someone is about to die, it is possible for a TU to be created. So because he was about to be killed by the engine, a TU was created and he was saved by frank.

@charles from england
i never thought of a time loop in this movie but it sounds very interesting. It seems that there are a few things that lead you to believe it. I also wondered about the chinese girl who liked donnie.

Something else about the engine, the one from the start of the TU could still be the one that donnie brought down from the plane his mom and sister were on. The people who were interested in it would be because it would mostlikely be from a plane they knew was not in the air, or was in a different area and the plane would have its engine but this one with the same numbers appears out of nowhere.

It would be really easy to tell the public who know about the engine that the numbers were burned off and they didnt know where it was from.

So why, if she were also a manipulated dead, did gretchen not appear to donnie also like frank did?

Guess that was my 2 cents.

Jonathan


Gretchen
May 15th 2013 | 17:19:57

Nudes for everyone! Great movie though.


frank
May 15th 2013 | 13:38:29

ok ok i get it. what about a nude of ur teacher?


donnie
May 15th 2013 | 13:37:36

shut up about the suit already! and no i wont send u a nude of gretchin!


frank
May 15th 2013 | 13:36:33

this bunny suit itches!


David Villa
May 13th 2013 | 2:25:48

Did the rabbit's eye shined or am I becoming insane?


imL
May 12th 2013 | 6:47:33

i dont get it . if donny had telekinesis or super strength ,why didnt he simply saved his gf from dying ?i mean he could have just out powered the guy who was about to slit his throat


Adam
April 13th 2013 | 19:16:54

@Brandon in the end you see everyone waking up or remembering some parts of the tangent universe.

I don't get if he fixes the corruption the jet engine would still travel through time and hit his house that imo makes no sense at all.


Brandon
April 6th 2013 | 1:41:15

I always wonder about the fact at the very end, When Gretchen waves at Donnie's mum. She says she doesn't know her so why would you wave - especially just after her son's just died! So I think that it is infact a time loop and that Donnie didn't need to die. I also think that because of this loop Gretchen still has vague memories of Donnie and his family, kind of like Deja-Vu. Probably a very far fetched theory but the wave has to mean something.


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Karen Pomeroy - Manipulated Living
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