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
finallyunderstood dd
December 11th 2015 | 17:00:59

I have not stressed one point. the SECOND CATASTROPHE IN THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE IS SOLELY DONE BY DONNIE WITH HIS SPECIAL POWERS WITHIN THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE, NOT BECAUSE OF THE TECHNICAL FAILURE AS IT WOULD HAVE BEEN CORRECTED THROUGH CORRECTIVE MEASURES IN THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE ALSO


finallyunderstood dd
December 11th 2015 | 16:55:27

i have quite a reasonable explanation for all the above "unanswered questions"
keep it simple...forget the terms primary and tangent universes for a minute there...give it simpler terms like stable and unstable universes instead...
first, this is not an explanation for the movie per se...but it is something which can make the movie rounded off and palatable and stable. the director may have still put some things in there for the kick of it to make the movie more interesting and open to interpretation. so, here we go..

there is a stable universe, one everyone is living in. there occurs a catastrophic event, in which a freak accident occurs which causes a particular metal object( the jet engine) to break the time space continuum and fall back in time. IMPORTANT: THIS FREAK ACCIDENT IS THE REASON FOR THE OTHER UNSTABLE UNIVERSE TO BEGIN IN THE FIRST PLACE(AVOIDING THE WORD TANGENT WANTEDLY THOUGH ITS A BEAUTIFUL WORD).
The unstable universe begins. why unstable? because of the catastrophic event which breached the time space continuum.

FROM NOW ON THE SOUL POINT OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE MOVIE IS TO EXTINGUISH THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE AND BRING BACK STABILITY TO THE UNIVERSE BY MAKING THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE COLLAPSE UPON ITSELF.

HOW CAN THE NEW UNIVERSE WHICH BEGINS AGAIN(FROM NOW CALLED THE REBOOTED PRIMARY UNIVERSE) BE STABLE? BECAUSE THE CATASTROPHIC EVENT WILL NOT OCCUR IN THIS REBOOTED VERSION AS CORRECTIVE STEPS WILL BE TAKEN TO PREVENT THE CATASTROPHE.

SO NOW, YOU'LL ASK WONT THE SAME CORRECTIVE STEPS BE TAKEN IN THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE TOO TO PREVENT THE CATASTROPHE FROM OCCURING? THE ANSWER IS YES, ABSOLUTELY YES.

SO NOW STARTS THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE MOVIE. BY THE TIME THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE WINDS TO AN END( BECAUSE ITS PRIMARILY UNSTABLE), DONNIE HAS TO CAUSE A SECOND CATASTROPHE IN THIS TANGENT UNSTABLE UNIVERSE TO SEND THE JET ENGINE TO A REBOOTED UNIVERSE WHICH STARTS AGAIN FROM THE TIME IN WHICH THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE BRANCHED OFF.

NOW, DOESN'T THIS SECOND CATASTROPHE CAUSE SOME INSTABILITY? YES,SURELY IT DOES. BUT THAT INSTABILITY IS LIMITED TO THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE IN WHICH THE SECOND CATASTROPHE IS HAPPENING, WHICH IS ANYWAY GOING TO FOLD AND END.

NOW, THE REBOOTED PRIMARY UNIVERSE: WHY IS IT STABLE? BECAUSE THE CATASTROPHIC EVENT WILL NOT HAPPEN IN IT AT ALL AS CORRECTIVE MEASURES WILL BE TAKEN. WHAT ABOUT THE JET ENGINE COMING FROM THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE? YEAH, IT WILL STILL BE THERE IN THIS REBOOTED VERSION OF THE UNIVERSE, BUT ITS MERE EXISTENCE DOES NOT MAKE THE REBOOTED UNIVERSE UNSTABLE, INSTABILITY ONLY HAPPENS WHEN A CATASTROPHIC EVENT OCCURS IN THE PRIMARY UNIVERSE ITSELF WHICH BREACHES THE TIME SPACE CONTINUUM. THIS REBOOTED PRIMARY UNIVERSE WILL NOT HAVE ANY SUCH CATASTROPHE HAPPENING. SO ALL IS GOING TO BE WELL IN THIS REBOOTED UNIVERSE.

NOW, ABOUT DONNIE DARKO DYING. ITS SIMPLY AND BEAUTIFULLY BECAUSE NO ONE IS GOING TO WAKE UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND WALK AWAY FROM THEIR ROOM WITHOUT REASON. ( IN THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE FRANK-BUNNY BECKONING HIM WAS THE REASON HE WALKS AWAY FROM HIS ROOM. THAT HAS NO REASON TO HAPPEN AGAIN IN THE REBOOTED UNIVERSE BECAUSE THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE THAT GOT CREATED HAS COLLAPSED AND STABILITY HAS BEEN RESTORED.)

THE REST OF THE ASPECTS INCLUDING THE "MANIPULATED LIVING, MANIPULATED DEAD, LIVING RECEIVER" ARE ALL TOOLS CREATED INSIDE THE UNSTABLE UNIVERSE BY THE DIRECTOR TO NUDGE DONNIE TO USE HIS EXTRAORDINARY POWERS (WHICH ONLY EXIST IN THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE, MIND YOU) TO CREATE A SECOND CATASTROPHE IN THIS UNSTABLE UNIVERSE AND RETURN THE JET ENGINE TO THE REBOOTED PRIMARY UNIVERSE.

THE BEAUTY OF THE MOVIE IS THAT THE EVENT OCCURING ON 2 ND OCTOBER WITH THE JET ENGINE FALLING STILL HAPPENS IN THE REBOOTED VERSION OF THE PRIMARY UNIVERSE, BUT IT DOES NOT HARM THE REBOOTED PRIMARY UNIVERSE(I.E. IT DOES NOT MAKE IT UNSTABLE).

I THINK I HAVE TIED ALL THE THREADS.

AGAIN, I VE USED MY OWN TERMINOLOGY TO MAKE THINGS SIMPLER, BUT USE WHATEVER TERMINOLOGY YOU WANT THIS IS THE PRIMARY STORY ARC. THE DIRECTOR MAY HAVE DONE SOME STUFF WITHIN THE MOVIE WHICH CAN STILL BE CONFUSING, BUT IT IS UNDERSTANDABLE BECAUSE HE WANTS TO LEAVE THE MOVIE OPEN TO MULTPLE INTERPRETATIONS.

P.S: SORRY ABOUT CHANGING TO CAPS HALF WAY THROUGH, GOT CARRIED AWAY IN THE TYPING FLOW..


Doug
December 2nd 2015 | 22:06:59

The premise that there is a primary universe and a tangent universe in this movie is actually false. According to the POTT, we can't have artifacts coming into the primary universe, because it would disprove that it is a primary one and is in fact a tangent one to begin with. The movie is allegedly set in a tangent universe which allegedly collapses when Donnie sends an artifact from the tangent universe into the past which is allegedly the 'primary' one. It's a fun explanation for things like deja vu though.


Matthew
November 5th 2015 | 2:58:25

I think if we're assuming Roberta wrote PoTT because she was a Living Receiver, it's also reasonable to assume that Donnie remembers the TU, so I'm not sure I agree with what you seem to be arguing in the next to last paragraph, I find it more likely that he knows the engine is coming...


Mili
November 1st 2015 | 12:55:32

I'm having a hard time remembering how Donnie's girlfriend dies?


Gavin
October 21st 2015 | 16:16:38

@Meh; Frank asked Donnie if he believed in time travel because he traveled back in time from when Donnie gunned him down to push him on the correct path so he could make that choice again. That way he'd be able to close the tangent universe.


MaDMAn
October 18th 2015 | 5:02:29

Hmm I think the fact donnie is living with skitzaphrenia. To me it portrays the realness of skitzaphrenia. As any one who suffers from it would understand this world . That it's mad.


Keiran Jay
October 16th 2015 | 1:44:51

Does anyone know what date donnie was scheduled to and actually die?


Sahil Vadhwa
October 15th 2015 | 19:54:46

I need to know Why Did Frank said that his forefather's name was also Frank.?
Why in Scene Donnie Scratches Franks eye in the Mirror before knowing that He Would Shot Him.?
Why did Roberta sparrow came to check for letter from Donnie everytime.?
I can't get an explaination for these..I request if anyone could give me a possible explanation.


Max
September 13th 2015 | 7:34:47

I believe Donnie was right about Jim being the antichrist..he has these limitations FEAR, AND LOVE both these things fear( Donnie dying alone) and love( Gretchen) was an attempt to prevent Donnie from saving the world.. But when Donnie forgot about his fear and his love he was able to die for everyone.. Because of his fear of dying alone he would have not achieved his destiny..and with his love he wouldn't have wanted to die


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Karen Pomeroy - Manipulated Living
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