DONNIE DARKO — 2001
This is not a big film. Small budget. Small box-office. Small actors. And it came out in the bad period, just after 9/11. To have some kind of a plane crash in that period was more than tentative, maybe even suicidal.
But that’s exactly why it is a great film. It can concentrate on a storyline that is stunning and a subject that is even more than stunning, flabbergasting. The storyline is determined by a simple prediction from Frank, the doppelganger of the main character, Donnie, who sees him in some kind of vision. The prediction on October 2, 1988, that the world will crash to its end in 28 days 6 hours 42 minutes 12 seconds, leads to the sum of these numbers which is 88. First circularity that you may not see if you do not have a pen, paper, and some number consciousness. And yet this 88 is 8 times 11. 8 is the second coming, the resurrection, the solution of a lethal and fatal problem, whereas 11 is precisely this final deadly event. We are thus predicted that beyond this apocalypse there will be a renaissance, renascence, resurrection, salvation.
But of course, the main circularity is in the fact the film starts on October 2, 1988, and ends on November 1, 1988, at sunrise around 6 or 7 am. And the resurrection is the brutal shift from this catastrophe on this Halloween day back to October 2, 1988, and the very event we had at the beginning. The catastrophe on November 1 is a plane crash with Donnie’s mother and younger sister along with the dancing team his younger sister is a member of, chaperoned by their mother, flying back from Los Angeles. The catastrophe on October 2 is the fact that this November 1 plane — or in fact an October 2 plane — loses a turbine that crashes on Donnie’s home and kills him.
From the beginning when Donnie survives the crash because he was out on the advice of his friend Frank, and the end when he is killed by the turbine because he was not out because no Frank had told him to get out, we have a whole series of events the way they happened, we assume, after the initial crash with Donnie alive. In this sequence, Donnie becomes aggressive, vindictive, but also seductive. He seduces a girl in his class. His parents have him examined by a psychoanalyst but that produces nothing. The story seen without knowing the end shows that around Donnie many would die, and many disruptive events would happen. His sole presence would lead to death and flood and fire. He sure is a schizophrenic killer, even by his own hand once.
But when we consider the end, this period becomes a phantasm, a fantasy, a dream, a trip into the future on October 2 that leads Donnie to know that he has to die if he does not want to cause all sorts of painful events that would hurt other people. And sure enough, he dies. In his dying minutes, He was able to see the future if he did not die so that he decided that to die was the proper thing to do. This approach of time traveling is quite in agreement with H.G. Wells amplified by Simon Wells. You better not change what is going to happen by traveling into the past or the future because what would happen then would be worse and in the end, the same for the person concerned. It is better to die because a plane turbine falls on you than to end up on death row for a murder you would committ later, even though the murder would be in a way justified due to manipulation from a doppelganger.
That makes the film interesting because of the strange ending (you can only see that film once) but it makes it also fascinating because of the simple philosophy of time travel: never oppose whatever you cannot block or change because if you did then the same end would occur in a different way and probably a lot more painfully for you. It is very pessimistic: you have to let a bloody dictator run through his own course because if you tried to get rid of him before his normal end it would be even worse if you succeeded. History has to go its own way and we are not supposed to interfere, to step on the samllest butterfly imaginable.
That’s what I would call submissive paranoid psychosis. Personally, I think the only acceptable solution would be for me to step out and down from such a life which would be simple survival disguising death into some robotic android living simulation. Note: never follow the advice of a moralistic sports coach or Phys. Ed. teacher. They are liars by definition.
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU