I know I usually do Speculative Fiction Friday on Friday, but I have changed it so it is Saturday. The reason why I changed it is because less people read my blog on the weekends, so I might as well just do a post that is fun for you and me.
Today’s sample is a film that has less closure than last week’s Blade Runner. Donnie Darko was not a huge hit when it was first released in the theaters in 2001, but the film has a huge cult following over the last decade. Back when I was tutoring for college, most of students’ favorite movie was this one.
Donnie Darko is one of those films that I like, but I just cannot explain why I like it or even what it really is about. Personally, I have seen a lot of films that have a lot of closure, and it is comforting to see one that shuns it. It doesn’t do this just to be different, either.
The film opens with teenager Donnie, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, asleep in the middle of the road. Apparently, some possibly imaginary friend named Frank has led him there. Donnie is told by Frank that the world will soon end on Halloween night of 1988. In case you are worried that Donnie could be killed with his nocturnal subconscious activities, he actually would have been killed in his own house, as a jet engine falls through the roof and crushes his room.
Seriously, that is what happens. The FAA doesn’t know the origin of the jet engine, but they compensate the Darko family for the damages. Donnie is then encouraged by Frank to do some interesting things like flood his high school and set a motivational speaker’s house on fire.
If this doesn’t make sense, don’t worry. If you have seen the movie, and don’t mind spoilers, go ahead and read the rest of the review after the jump.
As far as I can tell, the story of Donnie Darko is about time travel. There isn’t a time travel device in this film, but some natural rip in time event that starts a weird timeline of the jet engine crashing into Donnie’s house. Because the jet engine was an “unnatural” occurrence, Donnie is essentially stuck in a loop in time. This is what I think it is about, and if I had to summarize this film, that is what I would say. Frank appears only to Donnie because he is also stuck in this time loop, but in a different way. That part, I won’t spoil, but there are a lot of things in this film that add up and don’t add up at the same time.
Personally, I think this film successfully captures teenage angst so very well. This film also leaves it up to the viewer to figure out what the heck it is about, and I honestly don’t think there are any wrong answers. You can go on the Internet and find all kinds of explanations for it. Personally, I don’t want a complete explanation. Life is all about mystery.