Almost Famous: “Donnie Darko”

Don’t listen to the demon bunny.

It is quite possible that the year is 2002. It is also quite possible that you are an astronaut for NASA. And as an astronaut for NASA, you board the STS-527 launch on Space Shuttle Atlantis. While leaving the Earth’s atmosphere at a sickening 5 Gs, the rocket thrusters detach, allowing you and the crew to coast at 17,500 mph into space.

With the go-ahead by the captain, you flip the switch that activates the Quantum Field Generator. This accelerates Space Shuttle Atlantis to more than 10 times its present velocity, traveling at almost 100,000 mph through the blackness of space. As you approach the speed of light, it seems like everything around you is stretching itself toward infinity while time is dramatically slowing down. You feel like every molecule within yourself wants to rip each other apart.

At last you reach the speed of light, a whopping 186,000 mph. You and your crew achieve this Zen-like moment where everything is at balance for only a billionth of a nanosecond. Time has stopped and existence for all you know is frozen. But the Quantum Field Generator upsets this balance, overrides the power of time, and continues to propel the ship past the speed of light. The ship’s mass reaches for infinity when suddenly everything gradually slows down. The ship’s velocity decreases, time realigns itself, and pulses go back to normal.

It is quite possible that the Quantum Field Generator has melted a large hole in your spacecraft, causing you and your entire crew to crash land in Germany. Gravity and the aerodynamics of the ship push your crew to crash land in the University of Zurich, in the year 1905.

Along with the death of your crew, you coincidentally killed Albert Einstein before he discovered that the speed of light was constant, before the theory of relativity. Without Einstein’s E = mc2, time travel is not possible. And so a universal paradox is created.

It is possible that someone else in the future creates this theory of relativity. Or it’s possible that a parallel universe is created where time travel is never possible due to Einstein’s death. Or it is quite possible that the fabric of space-time explodes and all of existence negates itself.

Again, this is all a possibility.

Time travel has fascinated everybody throughout history. The Greeks and Romans pondered the timeline for ages. Physicists and astronomers have tinkered with the concept ever since the invention of numbers. Literature is not innocent from time travel. Authors such as Isaac Asimov, H.G. Wells, and Kurt Vonnegut fell in love with the endless possibilities that come about with time travel. Film and time travel have come hand in hand as well. Let’s see, well there’s “Back to the Future,” and … uh … “Back to the Future Part II,” and … well … Back… to the Future … Part III. Okay, so time travel and film have not exactly shared a successful history. (Pfft! “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — ed.)

There is one film that stands out from the rest of the bunch — “Donnie Darko.”

Synopsis:

In Richard Kelley‘s sci-fi drama “Donnie Darko,” we look into the daily life of a disturbed high school boy named Donnie Darko (played by Jake Gyllenhaal). He is frequently caught staring off into the distance, wakes up at random places, exhibits erratic behavior, and must see a psychiatrist from time to time.

The movie takes an interesting turn once Donnie is visited by a demonic bunny that tells him the exact time and date of the end of the world. Suddenly, a jet engine crashes into Donnie’s room and all hell breaks loose.

Donnie and the bunny watching a movie

From here on, the story escalates with dark premonitions of future disasters plaguing Donnie’s almost perfect suburban town. The audience takes a twisted journey into the mind of a unique boy, witnessing the interactions between Donnie and his demon bunny and unraveling the truth behind time traveling.

  • What is the nature of this freaky rabbit?
  • What is the meaning of Donnie’s dreams?
  • And where the hell did that jet engine come from?

Why You’ll Like This Movie:

  • Frank, the demonic bunny. His voice-overs give the movie that special eerie felling.
  • Very freaky dream sequences. The visuals are very imaginative and spooky.
  • Excellent performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. You might remember him from “Bubble Boy,” for all seven of you who have seen it.
  • A unique look into the philosophy of time traveling. Excellent uses of special effects combined with scientific theory makes all the physics talk seem plausible.
  • Compelling story line. You won’t know what hit ya!
  • What the hell is Patrick Swayze doing here?
  • What the hell is Drew Barrymore doing here?
  • What the hell is Noah Wyle doing here?

Final Thought:

I remember after seeing this movie my friends and I got into a 2-hour argument about the validity of time travel. Arguments of “how the hell can you go faster than the speed of light?” and “how does time go backward?” were thrown into the fray. Of course, we didn’t know what the fuck we were talking about, ’cause we were all liberal arts majors and the last time we took a physics class was in 12th grade.

Nonetheless, “Donnie Darko” takes you on a very surreal trip through the mind of a rebellious, young high school boy and the many insane things he does. I think once you check out this movie, you’ll see what I mean. And watch out for those demonic bunnies!

Article © 2002 by Rob Roan