(Updated 23rd January 2007)

This movie can provoke a lot of questions, so to try and help people fully understand the movie I have written up some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the movie below. For any constructive criticism or additions feel free to e-mail me.

Main Plot Questions:

1. How do I understand this movie?

2. What is Donnie doing in this movie, in a nutshell?

3. Why is the Universe ending?

4. What does Donnie do to save the Universe, in detail?

5. I still don't get it, what did Donnie do to save the Universe?

Other Story Questions:

6. Is it possible that Frank waking Donnie changed time, and therefore corrupted the Universe?

7. Did Donnie travel in time?

8. Did Donnie's mother and/or sister have to be on the plane?

9. Why is Donnie laughing at the end and/or why doesn't he get out of bed?

10. Did Donnie need to die at the end, hence not get out of bed?

11. Who is Frank and/or the rabbit?

12. Why when the characters are in bed at the end of the movie, in the "Mad World montage", do they seem to recollect what happened in the Tangent Universe?

13. Why does Gretchen wave to Donnie's Mum, Rose?

14. As Jim Cunningham isn't caught in the Primary Universe, doesn't that mean Donnie failed in revealing him as a criminal?

15. How did Donnie get to Carpathian Ridge, at the beginning of the film?

16. Why is Donnie smiling at the beginning of the film, when he wakes up?

17. Why do Karen Pomeroy and Kenneth Monnitoff have the conversation "Donnie Darko"... "I know"?

18. Why does Kenneth Monnitoff say he can't continue the conversation with Donnie about time travel?

19. Q. When Donnie's parents are talking about Frankie Feedler are they referring to Frank's father? Based on Frank saying that his father and grandfather were called Frank also.

20. What does Roberta Sparrow whisper to Donnie?

21. Why does Dr. Thurman react the way she does to Donnie's comment about the sky opening up?

22. Why did Dr. Thurman prescribe placebos to Donnie?

23. Why did Dr. Thurman call Donnie's parents on the night of the party?

24. Why are the bullies (Seth Devlin and Ricky) in Grandma Death's (Roberta Sparrow's) house?

25. Why when the characters are in bed at the end of the movie, in the "Mad World montage", do they seem to recollect what happened in the Tangent Universe?

26. What does Donnie mumble when he has the knife held to his throat?

27. What does "Deus Ex Machina" mean?

28. So why does Donnie say "Deus Ex Machina"?

29. Who is the jogger in the red tracksuit?

30. In reference to Cellar Door being the most beautiful phrase, which "famous linguist" is Karen Pomeroy talking about?

31. What part does Cherita Chen play in the film?

32. Why does Donnie put on Cherita's ear muffs?

33. Why does Donnie have a cut on his neck?

34. Why does Kitty Farmer relate Graham Greene to Bonanza?

35. Why does Donnie say to Cherita "I promise that one day everything’s going to be better for you."

36. Why did Rose Darko, Donnie's mother, not appear sad about Donnie's death?

37. What happened to Gretchen's mother, at the end of the film?

Other Non-Story Questions:

38. Should I watch the Original Version or Director's Cut?

39. Why is this film set in 1988?

40. Where is this film supposed to be set?

41. What trainers/sneakers is Donnie wearing?

42. How old are Donnie and the other characters supposed to be?

43. Gretchen appears in the notes of The Philosophy of Time Travel as a Manipulated Dead, why?

44. What is the song played during the cinema sequence, and at the beginning of the credits?

45. Why is there no soundtrack with the original 80's tracks?

46. What tracks were not on the original soundtrack?

47. Will there be a Director's Cut?

48. What does the Director's Cut contain?

49. What is the font used for the titles?

50. Is the Philosophy of Time Travel a real book?

51. Are there more pages to the Philosophy of Time Travel?

52. What other films are like Donnie Darko?

53. Is Donnie Darko based on the Last Temptation of Christ?

54. What films or other sources did inspire Donnie Darko?

55. What are the key points of the movie?

Main Plot Questions:

Q. How do I understand this movie?

A quick guide on how to understand Donnie Darko:

1. Watch the movie, ideally as many times as possible because once you go to Step 2 you can never go back.

2. Go to DonnieDarko.com and try and complete the web site. The web site gives a huge amount of additional information, and is arguably essential viewing to completely understand the film. The web site was written in conjunction with the film by the Writer/Director, Richard Kelly. Note the web site is fairly cryptic and full of puzzles. If you get very stuck visit Ruined Eye's excellent guide.

3. If you don't get very far in the web site, or you're lazy, you can take a shortcut to RuinedEye.com and read "The Philosophy of Time Travel" which explains a lot about the movie. The Philosophy of Time Travel pages are hidden within the puzzles at DonnieDarko.com, and have also been added to the Director's Cut. You can also view the pages, albeit with difficulty on some DVD versions.

If you're still stuck then obviously continue reading the FAQ. If the FAQ doesn't help then visit the IMDB forum or the various dedicated Yahoo groups, have a read there first, and if your question has not been asked before then post it. Equally drop me an e-mail and I'll add any good questions to the FAQ, or clarify answers as required.

Ultimately Richard Kelly has no issue with viewers having various interpretations of the movie and he has never (and most likely will never) given a complete explanation as to the main plot.

Also, there are many levels to this movie. Part of the FAQ is explaining the main plot thread which is fairly "cold" science fiction/fantasy, but of course there is much more to the movie than this.

So if you still aren't sure, and don't want to follow the above, read on...

Q. What is Donnie doing in this movie, in a nutshell?

Based on the story itself, the Philosophy of Time Travel, and the three DVD commentaries with Richard Kelly it's possoble to come up with a cohesive plot thread. So...

In a nutshell, the Universe has become corrupt and is ending. Donnie (and others) are manipulated by Frank the "rabbit" (and whoever manipulates Frank) to save the Universe.

(There are other ways to view the film e.g. it being Donnie's dream, or that Donnie is hallucinating the story as part of his psychosis, but the aim of this FAQ is to gather together the tangible evidence within the film versions and from the writer/director)

Q. Why is the Universe ending?

It is inferred from the Philosophy of Time Travel that the universe is ending because space/time has become corrupted. A sign that space/time is corrupt is the the appearance of the jet engine in the Tangent Universe. The Tangent Universe is an offshoot from the Primary Universe due to the different events that occur in it.

Q. What does Donnie do to save the Universe, in detail?

Donnie's objective, through manipulation by the dead version of Frank, is to stop the engine travelling back via the corruption. Instead he opens/creates a wormhole back to the past. He does this via telekinesis and his power to create water (the fourth dimensional construct) as it is stated in the Philosophy of Time Travel these are some of the powers of the Living Receiver.

So in short, corruption = bad, wormhole = good, hence Universe saved.

Relevant quotes from the Philosophy of Time Travel that support this:

"Artifacts returned to the Primary Universe are often linked to religious iconography; as their appearance on Earth seems to defy logical explanation."

"The Fourth Dimension of Time is a stable construct, though it is not impenetrable. ....Incidents when the fabric of the fourth dimension becomes corrupted are incredibly rare. ....If a Tangent Universe occurs, it will be highly unstable, sustaining itself for no longer than several weeks."

"....The Manipulated Dead will often set an Ensurance Trap for the Living Receiver to ensure that the Artifact is returned safely to the Primary Universe."

"If the Ensurance Trap is successful, the Living Receiver is left with no choice but to use his Fourth Dimensional Power to send the Artifact back in time into the Primary Universe before the Black Hole collapses upon itself."

"The Living Receiver is often (blessed) with a Fourth Dimensional Power(s). These include increased strength, telekinesis, mind control, and the ability to conjure fire and water."

"The Fourth Dimensional Construct is made of Water."

Q. I still don't get it, what did Donnie do to save the Universe?

(As the story is quite complicated here's a slightly more detailed version of the above answer. If anyone can send me other valid interpretations that stack up I will add them here)

Basically it was all about the corruption and the jet engine (the artifact).

The first jet engine appears from a future we don't see. In that future the engine falls or is torn from the plane and enters a corruption in space/time. Therefore the jet engine is in the future, then reappears in the past. This is the corruption , and the engine is therefore a sign of this. The corruption damages the fabric of space and time, and causes the countdown to the end of the Universe.

Donnie's role is to be motivated and learn enough to be able to route the engine back to the past, by creating or opening a wormhole to that same point in the past. Most of the film is about manipulating Donnie to do this, to the point where Gretchen is killed and Donnie can choose to save her and also end the corruption.

So, the engine appears in the same place it did the first time around, but this time it has a reason for its appearance, and it doesn't go to the past via the corruption. As there is no corruption the Universe is stable and saved.

In summary, first engine = corruption, second engine = wormhole, upshot... Universe saved.

Other Story Questions...

Q. Is it possible that Frank waking Donnie changed time, and therefore corrupted the Universe?

A number of plot elements don't make sense based on this. For starters, Donnie is responsible for Frank's existence.

Q. Did Donnie travel in time?

No. Donnie changes the past by changing how the engine gets there. He doesn't travel back in the car, or via any other method.

Q. Did Donnie's mother and/or sister have to be on the plane?

No. His mother needed to be away from the house so they could have the party, and so the subsequent events could occur. Refer to the end of the FAQ for a timeline of important events.

Q. Why is Donnie laughing at the end and/or why doesn't he get out of bed?

Richard Kelly states this in the DVD commentary (with Jake Gyllenhal):

1. That he felt the whole experience had been a dream, and was therefore laughing with relief that he had woken up from this, hence doesn't get out of bed.

2. That the journey through the Tangent Universe had solved Donnie's problem of dying alone through achieving enlightenment, and subsequently he knew he was going to "something better" (from his letter to Roberta Sparrow). He was therefore laughing through sheer joy and anticipation, and didn't want to get out of bed.

Q. Did Donnie need to die at the end, hence not get out of bed?

No. Richard Kelly states a couple of things in the DVD commentary (with Jake Gyllenhal) that Frank was honking his car horn warning Donnie to get up and:

1. he didn't listen;

2. or didn't hear.

So this implies that he didn't need to die. See the question above also, and the explanations of the main plot thread above.

There does seem to be a fated aspect for Donnie's death, in that all Living Receiver's die. Something that is covered in The Philosophy of Time Travel.

Q. Who is Frank and/or the rabbit?

Frank is actually Donnie's sister's (Elizabeth Darko) boyfriend. The Frank we see through most of the film should technically be referred to as Manipulated Dead Frank (to understand the Manipulated Dead and Manipulated Living read this page in the Philosophy of Time Travel). Manipulated Dead Frank (MD Frank) is appearing from somewhere beyond or Universe, and the future of the Tangent Universe, to help Donnie achieve the goal of saving the universe. The Frank we see at the very end of the film, in the scenes where Gretchen is run over and the "Dreams" sequence, is the "real" alive Frank, that is the Frank who exists in our universe prior to being shot by Donnie.

There are also some links to the living Frank throughout the film, for example:

1. He drops off Elizabeth after a date (just before the jet engine hits the house)

2. He drives past Donnie in his red Trans Am when Donnie is cycling home near the beginning of the film

3. He is on a beer run at Elizabeth's party (the notice on the fridge. Note the similarity with the "They Made Me Do It" handwriting around the school mascot)

Note that Frank does honk his horn in the first sequence as well, but he doesn't drive away the second time around.

Q. Why when the characters are in bed at the end of the movie, in the "Mad World montage", do they seem to recollect what happened in the Tangent Universe?

As background: at the end of the movie after we go back to the point where the jet engine hits the house we see Dr. Thurman wake up abruptly and look troubled, Karen Pomeroy is asleep in bed with Kenneth Monnitoff who is awake and looks concerned, Jim Cunningham is sitting upright in bed sobbing, Kitty Farmer is deep in thought, Cherita is smiling, and Frank is sitting on the floor touching his eye.

Q. Why does Gretchen wave to Donnie's Mum, Rose?

Similar to the previous connection, it's believed that she feels some sense of deja vu when she sees Rose. We don't know if Rose or Gretchen ever met in the Tangent Universe, but even so she might feel some connection with her and Donnie's family, in a similar deja vu sense.

Q. As Jim Cunningham isn't caught in the Primary Universe, doesn't that mean Donnie failed in revealing him as a criminal?

Hidden in the puzzles at DonnieDarko.com is a newspaper article about Jim Cunningham's suicide, that occurs in the Primary Universe several days after Donnie's death. This is also written, albeit difficult to read, in the notes of the Philosophy of Time Travel.

Q. How did Donnie get to Carpathian Ridge, at the beginning of the film?

Richard Kelly states in the commentary that he cycled there, and the idea of the odd opening was to give Donnie's character a grand but strange introduction, as a foreshadowing of what's to come.

Q. Why is Donnie smiling at the beginning of the film, when he wakes up?

This is often incorrectly associated with Donnie having some memory of what will happen. Richard Kelly reveals in one of the DVD commentaries that Donnie is simply amused at his situation, as part of the strange and grand opening for the central character.

Q. Why do Karen Pomeroy and Kenneth Monnitoff have the conversation "Donnie Darko"... "I know"?

Richard Kelly states in the DVD commentary that they are being manipulated, and they are aware of Donnie and that something is going on with him.

Q. Why does Kenneth Monnitoff say he can't continue the conversation with Donnie about time travel?

As it was a church linked school a conversation about God and time travel was taboo for the teacher. Clearly the school principal and PTA were sensitive based on Karen Pomeory's dismissal.

Q. When Donnie's parents are talking about Frankie Feedler are they referring to Frank's father? Based on Frank saying that his father and grandfather were called Frank also.

It's possible, although it seems a bit unlikely that Frank's father died at this young age, hence Frank must have been conceived at or before this time. Of course no-one other than Richard Kelly knows for sure, and this detail has never been covered.

Q. What does Roberta Sparrow whisper to Donnie?

"Every creature on this earth dies alone."

Q. Why does Dr. Thurman react the way she does to Donnie's comment about the sky opening up?

Her reaction is somewhat strange and out of character, so we can only assume that she is behaving as a Manipulated Living and trying to reassure Donnie.

Q. Why did Dr. Thurman prescribe placebos to Donnie?

In the deleted scenes of the theatrical cut DVD, and reincorporated in the Director's Cut, is a scene where Dr. Thurman reveals to Donnie that he's been prescribed placebos. As this must have occurred prior to the Tangent Universe, it can only be assumed that Dr. Thurman believes Donnie is not suffering mental illness and is verifying this. Thanks to a US based psychologist who contacted me with some background on this topic, and said: Prescribing placebos - This would basically be highly unethical and illegal, since Donnie was reporting that he was "seeing things", especially since he was a minor. Also, Dr. Thurman would not have been able to allow him to leave her office following the session where he stated that Frank was going to kill someone - since Donnie had stated earlier that "Frank made him do it" when he committed other crimes, Dr. Thurman would have had to assume that Donnie was referring to himself as threatening to kill someone, call the police/ambulance and have him committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Q. Why did Dr. Thurman call Donnie's parents on the night of the party?

In Donnie's previous session he'd threatened that Frank was going to kill someone, so it's assumed that Dr. Thurman had to tell his parents that Donnie was threatening to commit a crime, and she believed he would, as by law. It's believed that the session was the day before the party, although no explicit timeframe is given.

Q. Why are the bullies (Seth Devlin and Ricky) in Grandma Death's (Roberta Sparrow's) house?

Earlier in the film Rose Darko refers to Roberta Sparrow having a gem collection, so this is the reason for them being there. Of course they needed to be there as part of the ensurance trap for Donnie, so we can assume they are also acting as the Manipulated Living.

Q. Why when the characters are in bed at the end of the movie, in the "Mad World montage", do they seem to recollect what happened in the Tangent Universe?

As background: at the end of the movie after we go back to the point where the jet engine hits the house we see Dr. Thurman wake up abruptly and look troubled, Karen Pomeroy is asleep in bed with Kenneth Monnitoff who is awake and looks concerned, Jim Cunningham is sitting upright in bed sobbing, Kitty Farmer is deep in thought, Cherita is smiling, and Frank is sitting on the floor touching his eye.

Essentially the characters remember what happened from the future, but now closed, Tangent Universe. The Dreams chapter in The Philosophy of Time Travel confirms this:

"When the Manipulated awakens from their Journey into the Tangent Universe, they are often haunted by the experience in their dreams. Many of them will not remember. ....Those who do remember the Journey are often overcome with profound remorse for the regretful actions buried within their Dreams, the only physical evidence buried within the Artifact itself, all that remains from the lost world."

Also Gretchen and Rose Darko (Donnie's Mum) seem to remember each other, based on them waving at each other at the end of the film.

Q. What does Donnie mumble when he has the knife held to his throat?

"Deus ex Machina", followed by "Our Saviour".

Q. What does "Deus Ex Machina" mean?

This is latin

Deus = God

Ex = from the

Machina = Machine

Therefore, God from the Machine.

1. In Greek and Roman drama, a god lowered by stage machinery to resolve a plot or extricate the protagonist from a difficult situation.

2. An unexpected, artificial, or improbable character, device, or event introduced suddenly in a work of fiction or drama to resolve a situation or untangle a plot.

3. A person or event that provides a sudden and unexpected solution to a difficulty.

Reference: American Heritage Dictionary

Note that Deus Ex Machina is also mentioned in one of the deleted scenes related to the classroom discussion about Watership Down.

Q. So why does Donnie say "Deus Ex Machina"?

He's referring to the impending appearance of Frank, who in a sense is the Deus Ex Machina as described above.

Q. Who is the jogger in the red tracksuit?

The web site reveals that this is a member of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following Donnie, and see some pictures below as proof. The FAA are very concerned as to how an exact duplicate of the engine exists hence are following Donnie as a potential lead on why this is (and how he avoided being killed by the engine). Curiously the actor playing the member of the FAA is named Tom Tangen.

Q. In reference to Cellar Door being the most beautiful phrase, which "famous linguist" is Karen Pomeroy talking about?

JRR Tolkien (author of Lord of the Rings and other books, and he also worked on the Oxford English Dictionary, hence is famous and a linguist).

Q. What part does Cherita Chen play in the film?

It's possible to interpret Cherita's role in various ways. Richard Kelly has simply stated in interviews that Cherita is the innocent (she does nothing wrong and has good motivation), and is victimised for this (for both racial and size bias). So this appears to be some social commentary on bullying and racism.

Q. Why does Donnie put on Cherita's ear muffs?

Again this is open to interpretation. It seems though that Donnie was sympathising with her character, so to sympathise further he steps into her world by wearing the ear muffs.

Cherita presumably wears ear muffs to block out the nasty comments from other children.

Q. Why does Donnie have a cut on his neck?

In the Director's Cut there is a scene where Gretchen refers to a cut on Donnie's neck. The cut comes from the scene with Seth's attack in the bathroom, although this appears to occur some time prior, so there may be an editing problem here.

Q. Why does Kitty Farmer relate Graham Greene to Bonanza?

To highlight Kitty's stupidity, she is getting confused with Lorne Greene, an actor who played a character in Bonanza. Graham Greene is the famous author who wrote The Destructors, the novel that Donnie's class is reading, and which subsequently causes problems for the teacher Karen Pomeroy.

Q. Why does Donnie say to Cherita "I promise that one day everything’s going to be better for you."

Again this is open to interpretation. Perhaps Donnie (with his future insight) has some ability to know what happens to Cherita in the future or the way the world works. From that he knows that Cherita will grow up into a well adjusted person based on her obviously well adjusted character.

Q. Why did Rose Darko, Donnie's mother, not appear sad about Donnie's death?

Richard Kelly has said that the family were dealing with grief in their own individual way. Rose wasn't showing grief in the same way as say Eddie, Samantha, or Elizabeth.

Q. What happened to Gretchen's mother, at the end of the film?

At the end of the film Gretchen says that her mother is missing. We never find out what has happened to her.

Other Non-Story Questions:

Q. Should I watch the Original Version or Director's Cut?

Sorry, no-one can tell you this. In summary the differences are as follows: the Director's Cut has about 20 minutes more footage, some changes to the music order in the soundtrack, as well as some new tracks and sound mixing, some new effects, and the insertion of pages from the Philosophy of Time Travel. Whereas the Original Version has more of a mysterious feel, due to less explanation. If you're not sure which version to buy, then rent both and see which you prefer.

Q. Why is this film set in 1988?

Richard Kelly has given various reasons for this:
1. It was a favourite time, when he was a teenager.
2. Very few films have been set in the 80s.
3. He didn't feel comfortable setting a teenage film now, with no knowledge of current teenage life.

Q. Where is this film supposed to be set?

A fictional town called Middlesex, in the state of Virginia. Although it was filmed in California.

Q. What trainers/sneakers is Donnie wearing?

Adidas Campus.

Q. How old are Donnie and the other characters supposed to be?

Donnie Darko: 16
Elizabeth Darko: 19
Samantha Darko: 10
Rose Darko: 42
Eddie Darko: 44

Q. Gretchen appears in the notes of The Philosophy of Time Travel as a Manipulated Dead, why?

Because both Frank and Gretchen die in the Tangent Universe. Frank obviously appears to Donnie in his Manipulated Dead form, projected from the future, but Gretchen does not appear to Donnie this way. It would have both confused Donnie and the audience if she had.

Q. What is the song played during the cinema sequence, and at the beginning of the credits?

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" Written by Steve Baker and Carmen Daye Courtesy of Associated Production Music LLC

This track is available as a royalty free track from Associated Production Music on one of their collections titled Voicing the Classic 2. More importantly it can also be bought now on the 2CD Donnie Darko soundtrack, currently only available in the UK.

This track used to be provided for download but as it can be bought from both these sources (particularly the new soundtrack) it has been removed.

Note that this track is often confused with Ave Maria, but this is definitely not Ave Maria.

Q. Why is there no soundtrack with the original 80's tracks?

It was not possible based on the initial limited release of the film and the expensive requirements for licensing to release a soundtrack with these songs. But...

... A 2 CD soundtrack has appeared for sale in the UK (released on 4th October 2004) and subsequently on import for other countries which contains both the original soundtrack CD and a large number of tracks (but not all) from both the original and Director's Cut. Follow the previous link for a complete track listing.

Note of course that there is still the original soundtrack for sale with the original tracks by Michael Andrews, and the rearrangement of Mad World sung by Gary Jules.

Q. What tracks were not on the original soundtrack?

"The Killing Moon"

Written by Will Sergeant, Ian McCulloch, Les Pattinson and Pete De Freitas Performed by Echo & The Bunnymen Courtesy of Sire Records/Warner Music U.K. Ltd. By arrangement with Warner Special Products

(Plays during the sequence when Donnie cycles home at the beginning of the original movie. Note this is changed in the Director's Cut to Never Tear Us Apart, by INXS. In the Director's Cut The Killing Moon replaces Under the Milkyway during the party sequence)

"Lucid Memory"

Written and Performed by Sam Bauer and Ged Bauer (Used during the "Cunning Visions" video)

"Head over Heels"

Written by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal Performed by Tears For Fears Courtesy of Mercury Records Limited Under license from Universal Music Enterprises (Used during the sequence starting with Donnie leaving the school bus)

"Lucid Assembly"

Written and Performed by Ged Bauer and Mike Bauer (Used during the "Cunning Visions" video)

"Ave Maria"

Written by Giulio Caccino and Paul Pritchard, Courtesy of Associated Production Music LLC  (Played in the background when Rose, Donnie's Mum, is talking to her friend)

"For Whom the Bell Tolls"

Written by Steve Baker and Carmen Daye, Courtesy of Associated Production Music LLC  (Plays during the sequence where Donnie is in the cinema with Frank and Gretchen, and also plays over the end titles)

"Show Me"

Written by Quito Colayco and Tony Hertz, Courtesy of Associated Production Music LLC  (Plays during Cherita's "Autumn Angel" sequence)

"Notorious"

Written by Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes and John Taylor, Courtesy of Capitol Records, Under license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets  (Sparkle Motion's dance track. Originally it was intended that West End Girls by The Pet Shop Boys would be used, but the licensing cost was too expensive)

"Proud To Be Loud"

Written by Marc Ferrari, Performed by The Dead Green Mummies, Courtesy of Marc Ferrari / Master Source  (Plays at Elizabeth's party. Some sources say this is a version by Pantera, but others disagree)

"Love Will Tear Us Apart"

Written and Performed by Joy Division, Courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd., By arrangement with Warner Special Products,  (Plays at Elizabeth's party, prior to Donnie going upstairs with Gretchen)

"Under the Milky Way"

Written by Steven Kilbey and Karin Jansson, Performed by The Church, Courtesy of Arista Records, Inc. Courtesy of Festival Mushroom Records Pty Ltd.   (Plays at Elizabeth's party, when Donnie and Gretchen come downstairs, but only in the original version. In the Director's Cut this plays on the car radio when Donnie and his Dad are talking)

"Stay"

By Oingo Bongo. (Only in the Director's Cut, and plays on the radio while Donnie is talking to his sister in the kitchen)

"Voices Carry"

By 'Til Tuesday. (Note this is playing on Donnie's radio during the scene where he calls his mother a "bitch". Curiously it's the only track from the film not on the more complete 2CD soundtrack)

Note that two tracks (as mentioned above) used in the rough cut of the film shown at the Sundance Film Festival were West End Girls, by the Pet Shop Boys (replaced by Notorious in the original and Director's Cut) and Never Tear Us Apart, by INXS (replaced by The Killing Moon in the original cut, and reinstated in the Director's Cut).

Q. Will there be a Director's Cut?

Yes, the Director's Cut was released at the Seattle International Film Festival on the 29th May 2004. It was then shown on limited release in the USA, UK, Australia and other countries.

The UK distributor provided some money for the Director's Cut

The Director's Cut is also available on DVD. For the UK the release date was 4th October 2004 (link to Play.com). The DVD was released in the USA in February 2005, and Australia in December 2004.

If you have up-to-date information about where the DVD is being released in your country then let me know and I will include it here.

Q. What does the Director's Cut contain?

Deleted scenes from the original DVD, new unseen footage, new special effects, and some changes to the soundtrack.

For a complete detailed list of the changes follow this list to DVD Times.

Q. What is the font used for the titles?

This is a slight variation on the Harem TrueType Font. The Harem font is available for download from here (57kb), and linked from the downloads section of the main page.

Q. Is the Philosophy of Time Travel a real book?

No.

Richard Kelly wrote it during the editing stages of the film, and was intending to incorporate it into the original version but time and budget constraints prevented this. The Director's Cut restores the original vision of the pages that Richard Kelly wanted.

Q. Are there more pages to the Philosophy of Time Travel?

Although the book Dr. Monnitoff gives to Donnie seems to have many pages, only those which are on the web site and DVD have been shown. It is assumed these were the only pages created, for the web site.

Q. What other films are like Donnie Darko?

In a sense no film is very similar to Donnie Darko, and it's that sense of originality which made the film very popular. However here's a list of films that fans have suggested those who like Donnie Darko might want to watch as well: 6th Sense, 12 Monkeys , A Beautiful Mind, A Scanner Darkly, American Beauty, Blue Velvet, Brazil , Butterfly Effect, City of Angels (remake of Wings of Desire), Contact, Dark City, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fargo, Fight Club, Gattaca, Heavenly Creatures, Identity , Jacob's ladder , K-Pax , Lost Highway , Memento, Mirrormask , Mulholland Drive , Naked Lunch, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Open Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos, remade as Vanilla Sky), Pi , Pretty Persuasion, Primer, Requiem for a Dream, Run Lola Run, Silent Running, Slaughterhouse Five, Solaris , Stay, Stir of Echoes, Sybil (2006), The Final Cut, The Fisher King , The Game, The Good Girl, The Ninth Gate, The Prisoner, The Science of Sleep (Science des rêves, La), Twin Peaks, Unbreakable, Vanilla Sky (remake of Open Your Eyes), Waking Life , Wings of Desire (remade as City of Angels).

Q. Is Donnie Darko based on the Last Temptation of Christ?

Comparisons are often made because of the messianic style hero, and other aspects of the story. Richard Kelly has never made a link (as far as I'm aware) aside from listing in in the double bill with The Evil Dead at the cinema Donnie and Gretchen visit. Richard Kelly has said it was shown on the double bill as a personal joke, because the film was banned in his hometown.

Q. What films or other sources did inspire Donnie Darko?

Richard Kelly has mentioned films like Twelve Monkeys as an inspiration, along with a story by Ambrose Pierce called An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge (that was made into a Twilight Zone episode, a French film, and recently a US film).

Q. What are the key points of the movie?

This is a quick run through of the key points in the movie and those incidents which form the ensurance trap for Donnie:

2 OCTOBER 1988

1. Manipulated Dead (MD) Frank coerces Donnie to sleepwalk to the golf course (preventing him being killed).

2. The jet engine strikes the house.

5 OCTOBER 1988

3. Donnie is coerced by MD Frank to sleepwalk to the school and break the water main. Because of this the school is flooded and Donnie walks home with Gretchen, resulting in her "going" with him.

6 OCTOBER 1988

4. Donnie and his friends see Grandma Death walking to the mail box, and Ronald suggests that someone should "write that bitch". Perhaps manipulating Donnie to write to her, so that she is reading the letter when Frank's car swerves to miss her.

10 OCTOBER 1988

5. Donnie discusses the time travel theories with Dr. Monnitoff, and is given the Philosophy of Time Travel.

18 OCTOBER 1988

6. Gretchen tells Donnie "And what if you could go back in time and take all those hours of pain and darkness and replace them with something better?" perhaps manipulating him to complete his task later on.

22 OCTOBER 1988

7. Donnie discusses more time travel with Dr. Monnitoff.

23 OCTOBER 1988

8. Donnie finds Jim Cunningham's wallet outside his house. With the address he knows which house to burn down later. By burning down the house Kitty has to appear at his arraignment, meaning that Rose (Donnie's Mum) has to go to the Talent Contest, meaning the party takes place and Donnie is with Gretchen "cementing" their relationship.

9. Donnie sets fire to Jim Cunningham's house that evening.

25 OCTOBER 1988

10. Kitty Farmer asks Rose to chaperone Sparkle Motion as she is appearing at Jim Cunningham's arraignment. The party can happen.

26 OCTOBER 1988

11. Karen Pomeroy tells Donnie about the phrase "Cellar Door", thus dropping the clue that Donnie picks up on later when entering Roberta Sparrow's house via the cellar.

29 OCTOBER 1988

12. Elizabeth gets her letter for getting in to Harvard. They decide to throw the party.

13. Gretchen's mother has vanished, she comes to the party to find Donnie and stay in a "safe place".

30 OCTOBER 1988

14. They enter Roberta Sparrow's house by the cellar door.

15. Gretchen is run over by Frank, who swerves to avoid Roberta Sparrow reading Donnie's letter.

16. Donnie shoots Frank, allowing him to come back and help him as the Manipulated Dead.

17. Donnie perhaps removes the artifact (jet engine) from the plane, and changes its destination to the Primary Universe.

The End!

OK, you've reached the end of the FAQ. Again I would refer you to the text at the beginning of the FAQ if your question(s) hasn't been answered. Drop me an e-mail and I'll add any good questions to the FAQ, or clarify answers as required.

   
   
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