I just saw Donnie Darko yesterday.
And I gotta say it.
I saw a completely different film than Everyone else seems to have seen.
So much so that when I got up this morning and nailed down what I saw my first question was “How old was Richard Kelly when he did this?” Why? Because if he was young it’d give creedence to my hypothesis.
Donnie Darko isn’t about time travel or Any of that in the traditional way people have interpreted it.
Donnie Darko is about the suburban epidemic of apathetic parents drugging up their kids, blindly leaving them in the care of wolves with no true concern for children beyond devouring them…one that hit as people in my generation came out of high school.
Why do I say this?
From Dinner to Follow the Rabbit.
The first main scene of the movie after Darko wakes up in the middle of the road at the overlook for his town is the dinner, fighting with his sister over her outting him to their parents for not taking his meds.
He hates his psychologist &something is off in the apathetic way the parents have just entrusted him lock, stock & barrel to this person.
His mom tries to talk to him about being a different person &he snarls “you take the fn meds.” Then calls her a bitch.
…but he goes and takes the meds anyway.
Taking the meds makes the (gray) rabbit show up[Alice in Wonderland ref]…who leads him out of the house to the 14th hole (the gate past the 13th hole, aka beyond transcendence)and introduces himself.
[He meets to pedophile that morning/whole nother post]
While Darko was away a huge inexplicable metal plane engine falls out of the sky and crushed where he should have been sleeping.
In my opinion, the movie is about a kid who tries to show his parents/fam the meds are fucked. But they are oblivious. & He falls from the sky, killed by something with no connection to anything else officially “seen” in that world.
Donnie Darko is that kid’s spirit in limbo, unable to let go of here & How he died.
Other things that support a totally different movie.
1.He repeatedly says he’s scared to be alone when talking to the psychologist.
2. Watch Darko bristle every time the doctor is mentioned by anyone. The psychologist was hypnotizing him and watching him masturbate. Then her suggestion to the parents when they check in is give him more meds. Then the parents entrust him to her again. After she molests him while he’s hypnotized(he wakes up in her arms holding a stuffed animal) when the mom goes away…she says call the doctor if anything bad happens. But the doctor calls the parental voicemail Even though she knows the mom was away. Like the last reveal that the world was going to end freaked her out into covering her tracks.
3. At the doctor’s place it is the mom who actively gives away her son. The dad is useless, a kid himself. And neither parents have heard anything about any Frank. But it turns out Frank…has been the name of his big sister’s boyfriend The entire time. The one Darko stabs in the eye in the bathroom mirror and shoots in the eye after he hits & kills Gretchen.
4. Speaking of Gretchen, she shows up after all this supposed time loop stuff begins, but the first thing she tells him is she’s there because her stepdad attacked & stabbed her mom &they had to move and change names. When that storyline loops back around Darko’s sister watches her kid brother go upstairs with her in a weird way & Gretchen says the cops told her to go somewhere safe, so she goes to the party.
IMO Gretchen is the Beatrice of his teenaged angst on one hand, his anima on another…but most importantly, Gretchen’s already dead.
5 .Him being in some sort of purgatory bubble is supported by the visual of the mirror work with Frank, where he seems to stab him in the eye(Horus/God is all seeing ref).
6. Frank, the rabbit…shows up in a screen slide at the pedophile’s school assembly talk as a man, giving Darko the gateway to speak the truth about the viper. He calls him the antichrist because from his vantage point in Purgatory he’s able to see the pedophile for what he is.
7.The doctor & gym teacher may even have some sort of passive position in the pedophile ring. The gym teacher calls a book telling the kids to shake off apathy and burn shit to the ground pornography…but she’s also who champions the pedophile’s access to the school, and even when it comes out that he IS a pedophile she RUSHES to his defense with such ferocity that all allegiances to the kids & star search evaporates. She’s protecting the head of the beast. She gets Darko’s mom & kid sister on that plane, a kid sister possibly already being groomed by Jim & the gym teacher for Jim’s other room.
8.Frank was already the boyfriend of the big sister, we just haven’t been given that info yet. But Darko may have been in love with his big sister.
9. Grandma Death Tells him at the top of the movie every living creature dies alone. To comfort him.
She also wrote the book Philosophy of Time Travel…and what is the philosophy behind the desire to travel IN time each& every time? Fixing the past. Grandma death is the seer that knows Darko (and Gretchen) are already dead kids. Death hides in her basement, behind the cellar door-the sweetest phrase in the English language- in the form of the two murderous asshole kids. And most importantly, the movie closes with his letter to her.
10. The world was to end [for DONNIE Darko] in 28 days etc. the specificity is a red herring, but the general direction is not. Why? 28 days and a few hours from when he’s told all this is the start of Samhain, when the veil is thin and the spirit world communicates easily with the apparent/real world & beings can freely go between realms to help those left behind.
What else do I think really was going on?
Darko is being given until Samhain/Halloween/All Souls season to make his peace with overdosing & by the end of the movie was ready to die all the way. The “time travel” everyone raves about is that hiatus between death & life we all get to shake off the incarnation. To make peace. Think of Groundhog Day compressed into one revolve around Tartarus. Or quarantine prior to the Elysian fields. That’s why he drives Gretchen( his now dead anima) up to where he entered Tartarus, to watch the black hole formed by his ODing begin over his home.
The wormhole time travel motif where he’d have to sacrifice the plane his kid sister and mom are on to xyz is another red herring because according to the logic presented in the tale a second engine falling wouldn’t do it, the ✈ that first engine was connected to falling would close the gap.
Everyone Darko kinda-sorta Lazurus’d to in the dream of this shows up in the montage of reactions at the end, shook.
Except the fat girl. She was at peace…because his showing up to her revealed she loved him(after he’d shut down her tormentors earlier)…and he Said to her “I promise you everything’s going to get better for you-” in the group Lazurus dream. He died knowing she loved him…but what she’d been listening to in those earmuff hiding headphones of hers sounded like tapes of his doctor sessions.
Jim the pedophile kills himself on the 14th hole(again, beyond transcendence) after cleaning out his kiddie sex dungeon from notes I found online after viewing. His passive accomplices -the Doctor & Gym teacher wake up horrified at the reveal. Not of Jim, of themselves being seen for the enablers that they were. There’s some backlash over Jim not being “caught” but when you realize none of the movie really happened time wise you understand that there was no fire and nothing to stop him from continuing on as usual preying on kids Except the group dream. He wasn’t going to get caught. The kid who burned his house down died 14 days before Jim killed himself.
I didn’t see this movie when it came out. I was in either Juneau or Scottsdale by then, having fled after 9/11 pregnant as fuck with the first book of grievechronic.
…But the music is my music.
Maybe Richard Kelly was doing NONE of what I just spelled out.
But he’s my age, so he grew up seeing similar elements that could’ve lit a fire under him to make this, the same way those events impacted me and yanked me off a design trajectory.
He wrote and directed this. At like 26, close enough to the first explosions of the drugging up your kids/apathetically handing them over to preying adults epidemic That hit in the 80/90s…to have been as enraged as I was, artistically speaking.
All I know…is it’s a conversation I’d like to have.