Donnie Darko is a 2001 cult film, the first by writer and director Richard Kelly. more...
Set in 1988, the movie is a psychological science fiction film about a boy named Donnie Darko who, after narrowly escaping death, has visions of a giant rabbit named Frank who predicts when the world will end. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Donnie, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Noah Wyle and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
The film did not perform well in theatres, but since its release on home video, it has become a cult hit. In the United Kingdom, it has sold moderately well on DVD, but was then reissued in a budget edition, with no director's commentary or other extras, which sold for a fraction of the original price and shot to No. 1 in the DVD sales chart.
The plot of Donnie Darko is somewhat confusing, and much of it deals with paradoxes which are never explicitly explained. As such, multiple interpretations exist.
The film is set in 1988, an election year, in Middlesex, Virginia.
In the middle of the night, on October 2, 1988, Donnie is awakened from his sleep by a strange voice and led out onto a golf course where he converses with a man-size demonic-looking rabbit named Frank who tells him that the world will end in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds. (There are many theories as to why this number was chosen. Some believe that it relates to the amount of time the moon takes to orbit around the Earth , but no confirmation of this has been attained. The movie was shot in 28 days, exactly the time-span of the movie itself, on a budget of under US$5 million. Some viewers have seen here a reference or homage to the 1950 motion picture Harvey, but director Kelly has denied any such intention and in fact has stated that he had never seen Harvey before directing this film. However, the film is situated within a larger cultural discourse in which rabbits have a paranormal quality, including the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland which leads Alice into a parallel universe through a rabbit hole - perhaps an echo of the wormhole - see below.) After waking up on the golf course the next morning, Donnie returns home to discover that a huge jet engine has fallen from the sky and into his bedroom. So begins a series of events which bring together Donnie and a young woman named Gretchen.
There is an early indication of Donnie's mental illness (specifically psychosis) when his sister accuses him of not taking his medication. Donnie continues to see Frank and begins to see "liquid spears" emerging from people's chests, the paths of which indicate the actions those people will undertake in the immediate future. Whether this is indicative of mental illness, science fiction, or both, is left to the viewer.
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