Donnie Darko - I still don't quite get it. (Spoilers)

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aristide1
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Donnie Darko - I still don't quite get it. (Spoilers)

Post by aristide1 » Sat Jul 03, 2010 2:22 pm

I can't say the second viewing made things any clearer and I won't ask if this level of clarity (and no more) was the ultimate goal. Yes this is a late time to be having this conversation.

OK, at the end the jet loses an engine, it falls through a wormhole, and crashes weeks before the event, is that correct?

Also at this point (time when jet engine detaches but has not yet entered the wormhole or thereabouts) Donnie realizes he should have died in said crash, which eliminates the relationship with his girlfriend and ultimately her death.

So, if I got that right, how does Donnie reposition himself back in time so that he's in bed before the jet engine kills him? It's not like he's riding the jet engine down through the wormhole - yeehaw!
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Post by Lawrence Lee » Sat Jul 03, 2010 3:44 pm

Donnie could travel back in time because he had supernatural abilities. That's also how he managed to bury that hatchet into the head of the tall bronze statue when he vandalized the school.

A popular interpretation is that Donnie was meant to die and that Frank was an agent of God sent to allow Donnie to experience a better life for a brief period of time.

The plane engine of course is just one of those pesky sci-fi temporal paradoxes.

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Post by spookmineer » Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:09 pm

Not all movies can be explained... merely experienced...

People have gone mad over analyzing the Back to the future trilogy. Just enjoy them.

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Post by aristide1 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 3:31 pm

Lawrence Lee wrote:Donnie could travel back in time because he had supernatural abilities. That's also how he managed to bury that hatchet into the head of the tall bronze statue when he vandalized the school.
?? I don't follow what the second sentence has to do with the first. Sorry.
A popular interpretation is that Donnie was meant to die and that Frank was an agent of God sent to allow Donnie to experience a better life for a brief period of time.
Interesting perspective.
The plane engine of course is just one of those pesky sci-fi temporal paradoxes.
Well yeah they are all that.
spookmineer wrote:Not all movies can be explained... merely experienced.
Like Memento?
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Post by psyopper » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:43 pm

aristide1 wrote:
spookmineer wrote:Not all movies can be explained... merely experienced.
Like Memento?
Memento is a thread in and of itself. And I encourage you to start one, I'd love to discuss it!

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Post by colm » Mon Jul 05, 2010 9:25 pm

too strange for me. I watched the trailer...did not even begin to understand the babble. Seeing schizo for real, I did not even think to believe it was entertaining.

a comment on you tube:
Ultimately it's a love story. He turns back time and sacrifices himself to save the one he truly loves. The future he gives up is left only as dreams in the people he would have touched
this one thinks it is a love story. :roll:
if his love is like that, he still needs thorozene.
DSFg$57%udRTYnh

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Post by spookmineer » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:44 pm

aristide1 wrote:
spookmineer wrote:Not all movies can be explained... merely experienced.
Like Memento?
Well... I thought that was quite easy to follow, once you figure out the editing is flipped around (a bit like Pulp Fiction but then chronologically from back to front). I thought it was a good idea to make the viewer experience the same lack of info as the main character.

A (maybe not so good) example is The lake house. Don't try to explain it, just try to experience it as a romantic drama.

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Post by m1st » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:09 pm

From the Donnie Darko Wiki:
Writer/director Richard Kelly does not deny the validity of personal interpretations, but has expressed his own theories through the extra commentary on the two DVDs, and in various other interviews.

According to Kelly and his fictional Philosophy of Time Travel, at midnight on October 2, a "Tangent Universe" branches off the "Primary Universe" around the time when Donnie is called out of his bedroom by Frank, immediately before the appearance of the Artifact, the faulty jet engine. The inherently unstable Tangent Universe will collapse in just over 28 days and take the Primary Universe with it if not corrected. Closing the Tangent Universe is the duty of the "Living Receiver", Donnie, who wields certain supernatural powers to help him in the task.

Those who die within the Tangent Universe and would not have died otherwise are the "Manipulated Dead" (Frank, Gretchen). Frank, at least, is also given certain powers in that he is able to subtly understand what is happening and to contact and influence the Living Receiver via the "Fourth Dimensional Construct", water. All others within the orbit of the Living Receiver are the "Manipulated Living" (e.g. Ms. Pomeroy, Dr. Monnitoff), subconsciously drawn to push him towards his destiny to close the Tangent Universe and, according to the Philosophy of Time Travel, die by the Artifact.

Frank appears in the story in two guises (three guises if we assume that he "never" dies on account of the restoration of the Primary Universe through the negation of the Tangent Universe). First, there is the Manipulated Dead Frank who appears to Donnie as a premonition from the future of the Tangent Universe in the disturbing rabbit suit. Dead Frank is aware of Donnie's fate and destiny, and impels him to realize it so that the Primary Universe can be restored at the point where/when the Tangent Universe branched off from it. Second, Frank appears alive as Donnie's sister's boyfriend, whose fate unfolds within the Tangent Universe by means of Donnie's successes in realizing his mission. This living boyfriend is fatally shot by Donnie towards the end of the film, a killing which was foreseen by Donnie.
Again, there is great room for different interpretations, but this is more or less what I got from the movie. What I also took away from the movie was that it was Donnie's personal choice to set the universe right (ie., save the 'actual' universe). The calculus seems pretty simple because it was either he dies, or everybody in the universe dies, but it still was a selfless act. One could make an argument that it wasn't personal choice but the universe having mechanisms to self-correct itself, but I think an explanation that appeals to Donnie's choice to save, rather than the aforementioned hypothetical ontology, is more in line with the themes of the movie.

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Post by spookmineer » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:18 pm

m1st wrote:From the Donnie Darko Wiki:

Again, there is great room for different interpretations, but this is more or less what I got from the movie. What I also took away from the movie was that it was Donnie's personal choice to set the universe right (ie., save the 'actual' universe). The calculus seems pretty simple because it was either he dies, or everybody in the universe dies, but it still was a selfless act. One could make an argument that it wasn't personal choice but the universe having mechanisms to self-correct itself, but I think an explanation that appeals to Donnie's choice to save, rather than the aforementioned hypothetical ontology, is more in line with the themes of the movie.
That (the Wiki) is just a construct...

There is no way anyone is going to figure that out during the duration of the movie.

Then, it is meaningless, because the viewer can only "google for it" after seeing the movie.
The experience is what counts, you are either being touched by the movie or not while seeing it. You can never be touched by it afterwards if you google for it later.

I don't know, I think too many people are trying to figure out what just happened when that's not even the point.

What did Kane mean when he mumbled "Rosebud"? Does it make a difference to one's experience of the movie?
Is the movie a better experience once you know (a possible) explanation of it?

Maybe there's a parallel to music: audiophiles who need top of the line equipment to be able to hear every single crack in a record and analyse it, or people who can enjoy music on a simple portable CD player because they are still getting an emotional response from it.

There are many movies I "don't get" (Lost Highway, off the top of my head) and I'm leaving it at that. I don't want anyone telling me what I'm supposed to feel or think while watching that movie - or any movie.

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Post by m1st » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:36 pm

@spook

I definitely understand what you're saying and agree to an extent. I'm not saying at all that the wiki describes the only way one can understand the movie -- merely that it is one interpretation. I am definitely one who will not say "it's all relative" or anything like that, but the institution of art is such that it is for many people to view the same thing and derive different meanings related to the same thing. That being said, as long as there is some connection back to the original work of art, I think that having many different ways at looking at a movie are all equally valid and relevant.

What I'm not gonna say is that any interpretation is valid. For example, if I say that "Strange Fruit" by Billie Holliday is about rainbows because I was high when I first heard it, then I would flat out be wrong. Not any interpretation of a work of art is valid, but I think that many interpretations of a work of art is valid.

But I digress. This all goes to say that yes, looking at Donnie Darko and trying to extract as much meaning out of the symbolism of the different elements is tiring, and takes some enjoyment in the normal movie-going experience. But I think that it is quite rewarding in its own right. One can take a story like Animal Farm and read it completely literally, and there is still a deep literature there. But reading it as an allegory adds another wrinkle to the story. I won't say that one interpretation is inherently better than the other; merely that they're different.

In closing, I completely understand and support your contention that people saying "Movie x is about a and if you didn't see that, then you are stupid and not watching the movie correctly" is terribly misguided. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that just because one digs deep into a movie that they are missing the point of the movie (as the audiophile who no longer cares about the ethos of the song, just the technical reproduction of it).

PS- I actually had to watch Darko about 4 times before I started making sense of the plot. It was difficult, but a little rewarding in the end. A movie that has gotten a lot of critical acclaim that still draws ambivalence from me, however, is No Country for Old Men...

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Post by tay » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:03 pm

m1st. Enjoyed your post.
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Post by drcrash » Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:04 pm

Crazy ass movie..

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Post by spookmineer » Fri Jul 09, 2010 11:51 pm

m1st, great post, I think we're somewhere on the same line...

Regarding "No country for old men", I'm taking a leap here, but if it's about being "comfortable"watching a movie... Some of the great(est) movies aren't comfortable to watch at all.

That's not the point of them. If you were to watch "There will be blood" it is at least equally disturbing but perhaps on level ground as a movie.

Disturbing - at least where movies are concerned - can be a good thing. Some directors are even aiming for this effect, in that it acclaims what they're trying to tell through the movie.

Another example of a disconcerting movie is "Badlands". Or perhaps "Deliverance", well there are plenty.
There is a difference between a good movie and the content being shocking. Some of the best movies, I think, can be quite shocking.
Maybe I misunderstood...

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Post by aristide1 » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:45 pm

This is so annoying, I started this thread and I'm not notified of replies.
<insert raspberry here>
spookmineer wrote:Maybe there's a parallel to music: audiophiles who need top of the line equipment to be able to hear every single crack in a record and analyse it, or people who can enjoy music on a simple portable CD player because they are still getting an emotional response from it.
Ah spook, you are unfairly and uncorrectly characterizing audiophiles. First off one can enjoy a cup of watered down coffee and still appreciate the wonders of a top of the line coffee bean brewed to perfection. Second, those that need to hear every little thing are not audiophiles, they are anal-retentive people who have latch onto music. They could have latched onto photography just as easily, where they would not be called photographers as much as they would be called pixel-peepers. There are also a group of people who need to always have the latest and greatest. They are the kind of snobs you may have experienced, they do that with cars as well. (They actually have a wonderful use for us normal people.) Third, while I have enjoyed the score to Gladiator in the car if you haven't heard it on a real system you really have missed most of the emotion that can be delivered, for there's no way any MP3 player and headphones can possibly convey all the emotion. The Wall St Journal can take a bunch of different sized black dots and make a representation of the Mona Lisa. Does it really compare to the original?

Actually every crack in a recording can be annoying, which is why record cleaning and CD cleaning exists. But to address more detail I played "Rocks Off" by the Rolling Stones for many years. It wasn't until I had a decent system that I could make out each individual background singer, instead of just a mush of vocals. The result? I heard it for the first after many plays, and it was pretty incredible. It may not sound all that important here but the ability to do this kind of distinction is huge when listening to harmonies. So yes, you may well enjoy what you have, but you'd be shocked at what you're missing.
m1st wrote: (as the audiophile who no longer cares about the ethos of the song, just the technical reproduction of it).
Well there are many small labels that promote unknown orchestras and unknown singers and make technically great recordings. These are used to demonstrate equipment capabiliities, and rightfully so, because commercial recordings are severely compromised instead of being honest and fully truthful. But going back these unknown artists are not bad artists per se, but they are affordable to such small labels.

And there are labels that offer excellent reproductions and are not audiophile, they are called jazz labels. When browsing over old recordings jazz labels typically leave well enough alone, which is why they have such a great reputation. Some big name artists also pay attention, Dire Straights is notable as having great recordings, though they first album was made by a small outfit of limited means. Early Motown and Beatle (Parlaphone) albums managed to stay true to the music. Motown did half speed mastering, a technique rarely used in commercial recordings.

Whenever I auditioned equipment I would always bring along one really poorly recorded album which made eyes open wide. The purpose? The really bad recording should be lifted to the point of being listenable. If it sounded worse or not listenable then the equipment was a no sale. But as of late the loudness wars have taken a huge toll on sound, to the point the albums I have purchased with that miserable technique sound so bad I can't play them anywhere, though they sound worse on my better system. This is the main reason I have almost completely shunned new recordings, and frankly prefer to look in the used record or CD bin for anything that predates the technique.

But going back to the movie I had to see "Body Double" twice to understand that one scene near the end, it went by too quickly the first time. That short scene added a lot to the overall story, and to main character's last act. There was also 1 scene added to the DVD Aliens that was important to the story line, the conversation about Ripley's daughter.

I never got the impression that Darko really understood his role in time travel until the very end, to the extent that when everything "rewound" he didn't place himself back in his bed as much as he was placed there by the rewinding though he was aware of the impending disaster and the end result. But it wasn't like he fell into a worm hole from his last position similar to the jet engine. And I didn't get a sense of time travel with the ax and statue either. So what do I know?

And yes there are some things that are not fully understood and don't have to be. The Burnhams in American Beauty come to mind. Many said they were unrealistic. Well yeah, but that was to make a point. They were the poster family for dysfunctional. How? By having every dysfunctional trait known to man. While unrealisitic it maximized the number of people who would look at them and say, "Oh crap our family does that," pretaining to just one thing they did.
m1st wrote:but the institution of art is such that it is for many people to view the same thing and derive different meanings related to the same thing. That being said, as long as there is some connection back to the original work of art, I think that having many different ways at looking at a movie are all equally valid and relevant.
Well one wonders just how much connection will be made with something as convoluted as Donnie Darko. In today's society eyewitness testimony is becoming useless because one thing happens and witness recounts are all over the place.
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Post by m1st » Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:43 pm

aristide1 wrote:I never got the impression that Darko really understood his role in time travel until the very end, to the extent that when everything "rewound" he didn't place himself back in his bed as much as he was placed there by the rewinding though he was aware of the impending disaster and the end result. But it wasn't like he fell into a worm hole from his last position similar to the jet engine.
I think that we think the same thing about this, but I wanted to say something about it. Yes, when Darko 'goes back' and rejoins the 'real universe' just before the tangent universe's creation, it is not of his own power, and he is merely experiencing his jumping around. But what he does do is choose to stay in his bed, rather than go outside. By choosing to stay inside, he chooses to stop the tangent universe from being created. So in a sense, he still had power over the saving of the universe, but it's not like he clapped his hands to do so. He just chose to stay in his bed.
aristide1 wrote:Well one wonders just how much connection will be made with something as convoluted as Donnie Darko. In today's society eyewitness testimony is becoming useless because one thing happens and witness recounts are all over the place.
I would like to make what I feel is a very important distinction between art and what I will call fidelity. I will try to make the distinction clear with respect to photography. When I take pictures, I have, as the shooter, incredible power over what the end result of my picture is. Merely by the act of deciding what is framed in my shot and what is not, I am fundamentally changing the reality of that picture. Imagine that I am taking a picture of a balloon floating in a room. If someone were in the room with me, they would see what is holding the balloon, the lighting in the room, what is in front of the balloon, what is behind it, etc. But when I take that picture, I am completely limiting what the observer sees to exactly what I want them to see. No longer am I capturing reality in its purest sense -- what I have done is taken a snippet of reality and filtered it to suit my needs.

I contrast this with what I'm calling fidelity. Sometimes when taking pictures, I try to take a picture 'as it is'. Of course, a picture really can't be exactly like the subject you're taking, since one is paper and ink, and the other is...whatever. But when I do things in this 'mode', I'm trying to capture it as I saw it. For example, I may take a picture of a cityscape, trying to match the picture with what it was like to see that city. I won't give undue attention to any single object in the picture, since that was not as I saw it.

All this was just to say that I think the distinction between describing art and describing a real-life event follows this same cleavage. Since, in art, one understands that what is being recorded is not an attempt at retelling things 'as they happened', but adding wrinkles and filters to what happened, that is why interpretations are so open. So when one person has one explanation for a part in a movie and I have a different one, then I to some extent 'agree to disagree'. This is different in real-life scenarios when witness testimony differs, however, because in this situation there was something that 'actually happened', and this is what we're trying to see, not 'how the event made me feel' or anything like that. Finding out what the actual event is a monumental challenge for sure, but it is quite different than finding meaning in a work of art.

Lastly, I would like to comment about the whole 'audiophile' debate. Granted, not all audiophiles are out of touch and don't care about actual music. If you got that impression from my last post, that was my fault; I was being imprecise with language. So yes, being an audiophile doesn't make a person one who knows nothing about music. And yes, listening to a more accurate reproduction of a piece of work can bring out new threads in music that weren't appreciated on lesser equipment. But I would also say that listening on 'lesser equipment' can have its own merits.

Listening to a recording trying to have every sound come through is one way of listening to music. But at a concert or some live event, one doesn't hear every nuance of a song. And it could be argued that this would be the purest form of auditory experience. To jump examples, do not Monet's fuzzy impressionist pictures not have a life of their own because they aren't as accurate as they could've been? What about Seurat's pointillism pictures? What about (I'm sorry, I grew up in the '90s) post-grunge bands that purposefully add distortion in their guitar performances for effect? I am in awe at pictures taken a hundred years ago that have more character and presense than I could ever hope to capture with modern photographic equipment. It's almost as if the imperfections in reproduction by themselves add a new element to these pictures.

Again, I totally agree that accurate reproduction of music is a wonderful thing and can add a lot to the experience of music. But listening to music on a beat-up device in a loud environment can have value in itself.

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Post by aristide1 » Sun Jul 11, 2010 8:13 am

Yes I understood while all audiophiles aren't audio snobs it's a case of a few bad apples making them all look bad.

As for live recordings the microphone, like human ears, won't discern every last thing on stage, but should convey the energy of the crowd, providing reality in that way. And some concerts are just too loud to really discern anything, which becomes a bit of a "garbage in garbage out" situation. In the last case accuracy becomes a liability.
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