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.

Charles E. East
March 22nd 2013 | 16:06:09

I can honestly say I don't fully understand this movie, I don't think anyone does, I'm not even sure if this movie is a hundred percent logical/makes complete sense.

However I have picked up on many things that others simply haven't, for example:

a) regarding the dream, many of you think something like this: "he see's an ocean filled with futuristic buildings with odd architecture" watch closely at this point 24:26, there's no futuristic buildings, its the school hallway, you can see classrooms on the right and lockers on the left, it's Franks way of telling Donnie to flood the school.

b) the fat man in the orange tracksuit, no one makes any comments about him, he's seen throughout the film at 52:04 and 1:22:53, I don't know how much relevance this character contains but nevertheless, there's something mysterious about him.

c) this one doesn't seem worth getting worked up about to me, but the chubby chinese girl, where does she come into the more in-depth side of things? I mean she's there during many of the crucial points in the film, check out 1:39:31, 1:13:42 and 1:11:18, she has an entire book on Donnie, and Donnie seems to have a soft spot for her. I know it seems small but is there something more to her story?

I also partially believe that maybe within the tangent universe there is a time loop, starting on the second of October and ending on the thirtieth, Donnie is stuck within this loop and the only way to get out is by fixing the corruption and safely destroying the tangent universe, my evidence for this theory come in from a few different scenes:

a) at the very start of the film (just over a minute in to be precise) on the second of October, Donnie wakes up in the hills (very similar scenery to where he ends up with Gretchen in the car on the thirtieth near the end of the film) alone, with his bike while wearing his pyjamas he stands up and he starts laughing. To me this insinuates that Donnie has understood that he failed to break the loop and destroy the TU and that he is now going to relive the entire loop, maybe he's happy because he knows that he'll get to recollect his love with Gretchen.

b) 53:34 Donnie is stabbing Franks eye with a knife, without having seen Frank without a mask on at this point, this suggest that maybe Donnie already knew that Frank obtained an eye injury later on in the film.

c) at 57:40 when Jim Cunningham is giving a seminar Donnie stands up and insults him by saying 'I think you're the fucking anti-christ' which may suggest that Donnie already knew that he was involved with acts of paedophilia.

d) the whole conversation between Frank and Donnie in the cinema at 1:04:24 onwards also suggests that there is a time loop, Donnie asks Frank numerous questions such as 'why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?', 'why do they call you frank?', those two questions weren't particularly easy to relate to the idea of there being a loop but then he asks: 'frank, when is this going to stop?' and Frank replies 'you should already know that' and Donnie laughs, to me this is the biggest evidence that there is in fact a time loop, it completely suggests that Donnie is aware of when things need to be done, and yes you could say that Frank told him earlier on in the film that the world was going to end in twenty eight days etc. but I think its trying to be ironic here, of course Donnie knows that he has twenty eight days to do everything but what he may really be asking is: when is the loop going to stop? when will I be free from this repetition? when will this tangent universe be securely destroyed?

I find this film fascinating, underrated and widely misunderstood. Many more should be made like it and I salute all who are intelligent enough to have a fairly accurate perception of what this movie is getting at!
And admittedly it isn't the most easy story to comprehend...

Charles from England

March 22nd 2013 | 3:47:57

i dont get it at all donnie insane laughs

February 24th 2013 | 21:48:50

We all die yes?

This movie is simply about what if you didn't...or because you wish it so...

The life you live now maybe the same as donnie's and maybe we have all died and the life we live now is the life we could have lived...

How many people here have asked themselves about their past and wished they had a second chance, even a time machine? It would have resolved a few remedies... "what if I didn't go with that girl / boy, what if I didn't get in that car, what if I studied harder, what if I did not take that job, what if I went to bed earlier that night, what if I remained at home and did the chores my mother asked, what if I decided to to not walk alone that night, what if I did not go out clubbing, what if I said yes instead of no...and so on and on it goes...

Are we living the life that Donnie does and are waiting for it to end?

We all know it will end but we do not know how and when...that is what is so terrifying...

The rabbit is simply our conscience...

Time travel is in your head, because you so wish you could go back and change the things you really would not have the guts to love or loath your life just the same...

It's about choice...did you pick the right one but feel sad because everybody else has moved on and doing well except you...or did you make the wrong choice and actually hate your life?

February 17th 2013 | 20:25:29

Don't forget that the reason for this entire event chain is fourth dimensional corruption. In this case I see the corruption in need of fixing as being the illogical and unexplainable. In this case the existence of the artifact as an occurrence. That is to say the artifact and its existence are mutually exclusive and that its unexplainable existence is the problem, not the artifact as an object.

It seems that the tangent universe serves the purpose of safely "storing" the illogical and unexplainable that otherwise left unchecked would be capable of destroying all existence. However the result of this storage is the appearance of an artifact in the primary universe. As noted by chapter four of Philosophy of Time Travel "Artifacts returned to the Primary Universe are often linked to religious Iconography, as their appearance on Earth seems to defy logical explanation. Divine intervention is deemed the only logical conclusion for the appearance of the Artifact." Though not understood by the inhabitants of the primary universe the existence of such an artifact is logical and explainable, and hence stable.

In the case of this series, the artifact engine that appears at the end of the film landing in the primary universe falls from an existing airplane albeit from a tangent universe (logical and explainable). Whereas the engine that appears at the beginning of the film landing in the tangent universe falls from nowhere able to be explained as noted by quotes in the film (illogical and unexplainable). Keep in mind that the engine that drops from the plane is mutually exclusive from the one that first appears in the tangent universe. Also, that the tangent universe and engine first appearing there are by nature in defiance of fourth dimensional law and hence must be "stored" away.

This allows the primary universe to continue logically albeit with the existence of an artifact that originated in a tangent universe, and the tangent universe to safely collapse with the illogical corrupted existence of an artifact originating from nowhere able to be explained.

February 1st 2013 | 18:36:00

Here is where I see the corruption as having happened, the Engine through the time portal. If something like the engine falling were to have happened, we would have a paradox. The engine crash's, a boy dies, there is an investigation, pushed by his parents, the plane is found, as proved by the recording on the main site, but found intact. Because of the public investigation, and pressure from the parents, the plane is grounded and scraped, thus never making the flight on Oct 30th, where the engine falls through the portal to end up back in time. So the TU is created to give the scenario to allow the engine to go back in time. in the TU, Donnie doesn't die, the strangeness is covered up by the FAA, they pay off the family, and sine Donnie didn't die they don't pressure about the investigation, and the plane continues to fly, allowing for it to be in flight on Oct 30th and the engine to fall through the time portal into the PU and land on the Darko's house, killing Donnie. So to Answer these questions, yes Donnie had to die, the time portal was the source of the corruption/paradox, Donnie didn't rip the engine off of the plane or create the portal, it was the corruption that caused the TU that Donnie had to fix.

January 27th 2013 | 15:21:02

January 24th 2013 | 15:43:26

January 19th 2013 | 23:16:18

@ Freddy, that would explain the senile behavior of Roberta Sparrow AND would argue for her obession with the TU that led her to write a complete explanation of what she experienced. Manitoff said that one day she just changed, suggesting that she reentered he PU and was unable to mentally cope with what had occurred.

January 9th 2013 | 7:29:37

January 9th 2013 | 4:57:51

Maybe why the Living Receiver dies is that (a) they go insane because they remember all that happens in the TU and they choose to die because of this insanity (note that Donnie laughs at the end), or (b) they know to much about the universe and how it works. So...they have to die.

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Karen Pomeroy - Manipulated Living
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