‘Donnie Darko’ by Richard Kelly from 2001 became a cult film thanks to its mysterious plot and hunting atmosphere accompanied by the great music and selection of songs.
Donnie Darko is a jaded teenager who sleepwalks and wakes up on a hill one day with his bike next to him. During one of his somnambulic walks at nights Donnie is told by a big rabbit called Frank that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. Then an engine of a plane falls on Donnie’s house and into his room. He avoids death because Frank told him to leave the house and to follow him. Donnie believes that Frank saved his life and that he needs to obey him. Frank tells Donnie that he can do whatever he wants and Donnie Darko becomes a superhero who saves the day.
At the beginning of the film Donnie is a troubled, arrogant teen who used to burn houses and now goes to a therapy and takes pills. He is mean to everyone except for the chubby Chinese girl who falls in love with him. He then slowly becomes nicer and kinder to people thanks to his acquaintance with Gretchen, a new girl at school. He slowly realizes that he needs to die to save the world and everybody he loves. The story is parallel in a way to the plot of ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, which Donnie and Gretchen go to watch at the cinema. Donnie also has to give up the idea of a happy life with a girl he loves to rescue her and others from the end of the world as we know it. He becomes the people’s savior.
We see in this film that everything is connected. There are no coincidences. Every scene, every detail matters, and it all comes together in the end. The things that other people say to Donnie send him on the right path and help him to take the next step. Particularly two of his teachers play a significant role in his life – one teaching English and the other one physics. They are also a couple who lives together. They give him ideas of things to read and say. His psychotherapist also supports him.
He can subconsciously feel who is honest and who is lying to him. Like the guru who teaches people to fight their fear with love but who himself is addicted to child pornography. His parents obviously love him and want to help him but they do not know how. They have their own issues they need to figure out first. As the English teacher states, they have no clue and cannot access the world of their children. And especially Donnie’s world.
‘Donnie Darko’ shows us that even though everything is predestined, we still have a choice to either go with the plan or not. And when we do it willingly, it just feels right.