HomeMovie ReviewDonnie Darko: Timeline & Ending Defined

Donnie Darko: Timeline & Ending Defined

To depart the cult hit Donnie Darko defined is infamously troublesome, however its complicated ending will be damaged down by unknotting the film’s complicated timeline — and doing so positively reveals the hidden Donnie Darko that means. Launched in 2001, Donnie Darko was loads of various things to completely different viewers. The movie is concurrently an early automobile for future celebrity Jake Gyllenhaal, the directorial debut of mercurial genius Richard Kelly, and a hybrid of juvenile drama, science fiction, small-town thriller, and fantasy. The film’s ending combines difficult-to-explain alternate universes with time journey and a few really surreal symbolism.


Whether or not it’s the vortex within the sky, the creepy six-foot-tall rabbit Frank, or why Jake Gyllenhaal’s Donnie is laughing in mattress, every thing within the Donnie Darko ending will be defined. It is a very surreal and unusual film, and that is epitomized by its finale, however that does not imply there isn’t any that means behind Donnie Darko. The movie makes use of loads of eighties popular culture detritus, which creates a foggy, nostalgic environment, making the ending all of the extra complicated for first-time viewers. Over twenty years since its launch, it is nonetheless thought-about a thought-provoking cult basic. Luckily, the years have supplied sufficient time to totally discover the Donnie Darko that means behind its mysterious ending.

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What Occurs At The Finish of Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko Gretchen Dead

The ending of Donnie Darko defined is best understood so as. Chronologically, and said as merely as attainable: Donnie burns down hypocritical motivational speaker Jim Cunningham’s (performed by the late Patrick Swayze) home after Frank tells him to, resulting in Cunningham’s arrest when baby pornography is discovered inside. Donnie’s mom and youthful sister head to LA together with his sister’s dance troupe. In the meantime, his Harvard-bound older sister celebrates her college acceptance with a celebration. Donnie tries to seek out the reclusive creator of a ebook about time journey he acquired from a science instructor, however as an alternative, he finally ends up being attacked by bullies. Gretchen is hit by a automobile that Frank, the rabbit-masked man, is driving.

A distraught Donnie shoots Frank within the face, and it’s throughout this second that Donnie provides Frank the wound hidden below his rabbit masks earlier within the movie. Quickly after, the rabbit’s prophecy for Donnie comes true as Donnie sees an apocalyptic rip within the sky. Because the aircraft carrying his sister and mom aircraft begins to crash, Donnie travels again in time to the beginning level of the film, going again to mattress and permitting himself to be hit by the falling jet engine. He does this as a result of, together with his loss of life, no person will expose Cunningham, that means the circumstances that lead Donnie’s mom and sister to be on the doomed flight will not occur.

Donnie’s Darko’s Time Journey Defined

Donnie Darko holding up a knife

Donnie Darko defined self-reflexive time journey and the idea of alternate universes, which will be arduous to grasp. Merely put, the tangent universe that Frank the rabbit warns Donnie about is a separate, alternate actuality (much like 2022’s Every little thing In every single place All At As soon as, however extra singular), that comes into existence in the beginning of the movie (. Donnie Darko doesn’t clarify why the tangent universe comes into existence; it is one in all many issues within the film which are intentionally left a thriller. Donnie’s position is to sacrifice himself to deliver an object (the jet propeller engine) from the tangent universe again residence to the place it belongs. The character of this tangent universe was really defined in textual content from Roberta Sparrow’s The Philosophy of Time Journey:

“If a Tangent Universe happens it will likely be extremely unstable, sustaining itself for now not than a number of weeks. Ultimately it would collapse upon itself, forming a black gap inside the Major Universe able to destroying all existence.”

On the finish of the film, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Donnie Darko returns to the hillside and watches the jet engine get sucked into the time vortex, at which level time rewinds, and he has a chance to do issues in a different way, armed together with his data of what’s going to occur. Donnie is the one particular person in a position to shut the tangent universe earlier than it destroys his actuality, however it would price him his life within the course of. On the finish of the film he voluntarily goes to mattress — even laughing as he does so, having accepted what he should do to maintain his household and Gretchen alive — and is crushed by the falling aircraft particles.

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Frank The Rabbit Defined

Donnie Darko Frank

Donnie Darko defined that Frank haunted Donnie all through the film, however is it the identical Frank he shoots in the direction of the tip? It’s a time journey paradox, and the ending will be interpreted in varied methods. Within the case of Frank the human-rabbit man, his origins are admittedly by no means made clear by the film, however somewhat digging uncovers a few clues. Frank seems after the tangent universe comes into existence, and the match minimize sees his face superimposed over Donnie’s throughout a sequence discussing Donnie’s psychological well being — much like tips pulled by Struggle Membership with Tyler Durden. Based mostly on this, the bunny-man will be learn as Donnie’s tangent universe alter-ego who exists to warn him in regards to the sacrifice he should make.

One other interpretation of Frank is that he’s the identical bunny-man Donnie shot and, after his loss of life, his spirit was now not certain by time. It isn’t unusual for ghosts in films to ship warnings to the residing — the distinction with Frank is that he delivers his warning earlier than he even dies. Lending the Richard Kelly film some real-life inspiration, particulars from The Philosophy of Time Journey assist this concept, referring to a selected sort of spirit often called the “Manipulated Lifeless.” In guiding Donnie to vary the end result of occasions, Frank not solely helps to forestall the deaths of Gretchen and Donnie’s household but in addition saves his personal life as effectively.

How Donnie Darko Saves His Household

Donnie Darko Plane Engine

The obscure guidelines of time journey in Donnie Darko aren’t elaborated on a lot inside the film itself, however they allowed his household to dwell. By going again in time and accepting his destiny, Donnie Darko defined that Donnie succeeds in closing the tangent universe and altering the longer term. His mom and sister will not die, and he prevents Gretchen from dying since she was solely hit by the automobile as a result of she was with Donnie. Frank will not die, as a result of Donnie killed him in response to Gretchen’s loss of life. There are much less fascinating penalties of Donnie sacrificing himself too — since he will not burn Jim Cunningham’s home, his baby pornography assortment will not be discovered.

Nevertheless, time journey in films is at all times sophisticated, and it is implied that some echoes of the tangent universe stay. When Gretchen rides previous Donnie’s home and pauses on the wreckage, she and Rose make eye contact and instinctively wave as in the event that they know one another. This means that although Donnie was the one one that retained his full reminiscence of the opposite timeline, different folks within the city stay subconsciously conscious of what may need occurred. Although he was a misfit in life, maybe folks will know Donnie was a hero in loss of life — even when they don’t seem to be positive how.

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What The Donnie Darko Ending Actually Means

Elizabeth and Donnie Darko sitting on their couch in Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko‘s ending is not the one film leaving viewers questioning what occurred as a result of an alternate universe, nevertheless it has a repute for being significantly complicated. Whereas Donnie Darko‘s defined timeline is comparatively easy, its ending is somewhat ambiguous, leaving a lot for the viewer to interpret. Nevertheless, the true takeaway from Donnie Darko‘s ending is the assertion it makes about determinism and the way free will works inside it.

There’s a lot that Donnie cannot management, however he is sensible of find out how to shut the tangent universe. He is aware of he’ll die, however as his current existence has seen these near him meet such disagreeable fates, he saves them by permitting the jet engine to kill him. Unpacking the science behind the movie’s story may be sophisticated, however Donnie Darko‘s ending is kind of easy: he chooses to die in order that others can dwell.

What Jake Gyllenhaal Thinks The Donnie Darko Ending Means

Donnie, Gretchen, and Frank at a movie theater in Donnie Darko.

Donnie Darko is one in all Jake Gyllenhaal’s greatest films partly as a result of it prompts a lot thought and dialog. In a retrospective interview in regards to the film, Gyllenhaal talked in regards to the ambiguity of the movie and what he feels lends to its cult basic standing. In keeping with the actor himself, the truth that the ending is “obscure,” has helped the film stand the check of time. Nevertheless, he stated this film was about “adolescence and the confusion of all of it,” and that makes it a “ceremony of passage” for a lot of viewers that “messes with you a bit.

Director Richard Kelly additionally spoke in regards to the that means of Donnie Darko (by way of NME), and he admitted that a lot of the fan theories are all mistaken. Nevertheless, he was additionally obtuse within the interview about lots of the questions regarding Donnie Darko‘s finish defined. He prevented the concept Donnie was useless all alongside, saying that life and loss of life can co-exist. He did say Donnie wasn’t hallucinating and every thing within the film is actual “to a sure extent.” Lastly, he stated “life may very well be a dream” and Roberta Sparrow was onto one thing with Philosophy of Time Journey.

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