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Donnie Darko

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manavmehta
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Just watched the director's cut of this movie which is out in theaters right now. Although I wholeheartedly disagree with this movie's philosophy (it reeks of mysticism), I thoroughly enjoyed it, for the originality and brilliance of the well-integrated storyline, the excellent direction and the amazing performances (especially from the young actors, including Jake Gylenhaal). I'm just not sure if I connected all the dots correctly - someone who has also seen the movie, correct me if I'm wrong....

******** SPOILER **************************

(scroll down out of the range of this page)

From what I could gather, basically, the central character of this movie, Donnie, is a schziphrenic, and apparently, his illness gives him the capability of time travel. He travels 28 days, 6 hours and 42 mins into his future to witness first-hand the horrible things that will happen to all the people even remotely associated with him if he continues to live (his favorite teacher loses her job, his girlfriend killed in a car accident, etc)! So, therefore, at the end of the movie, when he is finally propelled back to the present, to his room, he knows how he is going to die and why he must die and he accepts his impending death happily knowing that the world will be a better place without him. Did I get it right?

If I got the story right, then the philosophy of this movie is undoubtedly pure determinism i.e. the idea that human beings have absolutely no control over their choices and their actions and every event in your future is un-changeably charted out and you have no power to alter your future choices or actions! Donnie Darko sees the course of his future, knows that he cannot change it and therefore accepts his fate happily.

Another thing that struck me about this movie was that the director used it to portray his scathing criticism of the progressive education system swallowing America today. Drew Barrymore is the only competent teacher in a sea of mediocrity, and she is punished for her originality. Donnie sees through the sham of the whole system and boldly speaks out against it, leading of course to all the punishments the school authorities mete out to him.

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From what I could gather, basically, the central character of this movie, Donnie, is a schziphrenic, and apparently, his illness gives him the capability of time travel. He travels 28 days, 6 hours and 42 mins into his future to witness first-hand the horrible things that will happen to all the people even remotely associated with him if he continues to live (his favorite teacher loses her job, his girlfriend killed in a car accident, etc)! So, therefore, at the end of the movie, when he is finally propelled back to the present, to his room, he knows how he is going to die and why he must die and he accepts his impending death happily knowing that the world will be a better place without him. Did I get it right?

If I got the story right, then the philosophy of this movie is undoubtedly pure determinism i.e. the idea that human beings have absolutely no control over their choices and their actions and every event in your future is un-changeably charted out and you have no power to alter your future choices or actions! Donnie Darko sees the course of his future, knows that he cannot change it and therefore accepts his fate happily.

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You got most of the story right. Frank the rabbit shows Donny Darko what will happen if he CHOOSES to live. Having seen this, Donny willingly dies to protect those that he loves. (This is why that story written by Greene is given so much exposure - because it's about how 'destruction can be creation' - which I think is quite ridiculous.) So the philosophy behind the movie I think is not determinism, but self-sacrifice and utalitarianism.

Still, I also did enjoy the movie for its brilliant cinematography, originality, great soundtrack and drama. But I still have not seen the director's cut - I saw the original when it came out.

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Another thing that struck me about this movie was that the director used it to portray his scathing criticism of the progressive education system swallowing America today. Drew Barrymore is the only competent teacher in a sea of mediocrity, and she is punished for her originality. Donnie sees through the sham of the whole system and boldly speaks out against it, leading of course to all the punishments the school authorities mete out to him.

i thought this at least was quite accurate. it seemed similar to the school that i went to. i laughed out loud quite a few times during some of the school scenes because it reminded me of past situations. in particular my school used to have terrible speakers come quite often. there was also a required course very similar to that that donnie is seen taking (the course about fear). As for competent teachers, my school was beginning to get more of them as i was leaving. i dont think that drew barrymore was the only competent teacher however, the science teacher (cant remember his name, he was in E.R.) was quite good.

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I just got done listening to the soundtrack again...."Mad World" is such a beautiful song...exellent concept too. Michael Andrews is an exellent composer.

As for the movie, I thought it was a brilliant film. I was compelled to watch it again after reading this thread but I think I deleted the copy from my computer.

Perhaps the special edition dvd will be purchased.

~Michael

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I thought some of the cinematography was really awesome. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty poor movie. I didn't like the plot, or the acting, and I really didn't like the sense of life.

On the other hand, I have heard that unless you go through the website: Donnie Darko then you can't fully understand the movie. I haven't done it myself, so I don't know how helpful it is.

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I thought some of the cinematography was really awesome. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty poor movie. I didn't like the plot, or the acting, and I really didn't like the sense of life.

On the other hand, I have heard that unless you go through the website: Donnie Darko then you can't fully understand the movie. I haven't done it myself, so I don't know how helpful it is.

I've gone through the website and it does help understand the movie...but I really think the movie was good enough at displaying it's plot.

Great movie.

~Michael

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That's the main problem I've got with "Donnie Darko"-- that the consensus seems to be that one can't get the movie without reading the website and the 'Philosophy of Time Travel' text on the DVD, etc.

To me, this says that the movie does not stand on its own. I really wish it did, because I agree with those above who are praising it for the cinematography, the acting, the soundtrack, and other aspects. However, if the writers of the movie couldn't manage to include all story-necessary details and explanations in the movie, and so instead rely on external texts and such, then I think it's a poor excuse for a story. The movie can't stand on its own, by itself, as a film.

To illustrate: The "Star Wars" universe is full of incredibly detailed and rich characters, places, etc. However, it's not necessary to know every one of these details in order to enjoy the films for what they are, or to understand the elements that move the plot forward. On the other hand, in order for the plot of "Donnie Darko" to make any sense, the viewer is absolutely required to track down information that is not presented in the movie.

I think that's kinda... cheap. At least, from a filmmaking point of view.

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If the movie's philosophy is not determinism, why couldn't Donnie make use of his newly acquired knowledge about the future to prevent the events that he knows are going to happen if he takes certain actions? There are a lot of things that he could do if he was equipped with free will, including moving out of his town and out of range of the people he loves so that he could not do them any harm. Obviously, he knew that he had no choice about what he was going to do and the harm it was going to cause, because, as the philosophy of determinism states, human beings are propelled by forces beyond their control into doing the things that they do. This is why he knew that the only way to protect those he loves was to die willingly.

And besides, Donnie's decision to die for those he loves is not a sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice when you give up something of lower value to you (in this case, Donnie's life) to protect something of greater value (in this case, his loved ones). Some people do value those they love even more than their own lives. Ayn Rand once said in an interview that she would take a bullet for her husband.

I also disagree that the movie is not self-contained. I watched it only once and gave you my summary of the story without referring to any external sources. I came back straight from the movie, logged onto my computer and started this thread. Of course, the story wasn't immediately apparent to me when the movie ended - I must admit I had to spend fifteen minutes thinking about it and trying to analyze it to connect all the dots before it struck me what had transpired in that story. And well, I must also admit, that there are still many unexplained things in my mind (for instance, what's with that Roberta Sparrow character? How did she know what was going to happen to Donnie to write it in her book?). But still, the fact is, I got the crux of the story just by thinking about what I had seen. Maybe it's because I watched the director's cut that I figured it out, because I read in one of the reviews that the original was practically undecipherable compared to this version.

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Yes, you have a point with the determinism argument. Perhaps the movie advocates the sort of half-determinism, half-free will idea that some people seem to harbour, where they believe that we have free will, but after you make a certain decision, this sort of domino effect occurs? Because as I see it, Donnie was shown what was going to happen if he didn't die, but nothing really stopped him from walking out of the house just before the aeroplane engine fell through the roof, even with this knowledge. I think essentially he had to choose life or death, where 'life' would lead him down own predetermined path.

Also, a point of clarification: I don't think dieing to save a loved one is an act of sacrifice. But in popular culture, such an act IS viewed as a sacrifice. This is what I was getting at.

I also thought that the movie was self-contained enough for people to get it after watching it. Sure there are some things that need clarification and is up to debate - but that that was even evident in Atlas Shrugged. For proof, refer to the Eddie Willers thread on this forum. One character that I really do want to understand is Cherita. Why was she given so much exposure? What is she meant to represent?

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  • 3 weeks later...
I watched the first release of this movie, is it worth spending the 7.50 to see it again with new features?

Depends on how much you liked the first release. If you liked it, then by all means, yes. It is a much more cohesive piece of work second time around. If you were fairly indifferent to it or didn't like it too much, you probably won't get much out of it.

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Spoiler...........

My theory is that Donnie was stuck in a time loop and had been there for quite awhile. He may have tried everything he could to stop it and decided the only thing that would keep everyone he loved safe and stop the loop was to be in his room when the engine crashed on him. Just my theory.

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Did they re-release it? Or are you guys talking about DVD?

When Richard Kelly originally made the film, the distributors told him that it was too long, and asked him to get it under an x amount of minutes. So he cut out quite a few scenes from the original and released it. Then of course, it became a bit of a cult classic. So now he has released the original, director's cut of the movie.

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