5 March 2013
A Predetermined Path in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko, on it’s most basic front is a sci-fi film that pays homage to 80s culture. Set in 1988, the film by director Richard Kelly is about a young schizophrenic boy. However, upon analysis of the movies symbols, motifs and recurring themes, it can be argued that almost every scene is strategically set to help portray a deeper meaning in the end. Donnie Darko is a complex film made in a way that leaves the audience to come up with their own conclusion but by using recurring symbols, specific references, camera techniques and the constant theme of “fear and love,” Kelly shows how each of us are on a predetermined path, which we cannot escape. In the movie, Donnie has frequent hallucinations of a life-sized rabbit by the name of Frank, who represents a manifestation of the ‘invisible hand’ that is pulling Donnie along his path to save the Universe from destruction. A rabbit is commonly depicted as a playful, innocent and a childlike figure, which is the biggest contrast to the role that Frank the rabbit plays in the film. Every step of the way, Frank leads Donnie into events that will ultimately result in the young boy sacrificing his own life for the survival of humankind. Although Frank is portrayed as a manipulative character, he really symbolizes a higher power that foreshadows the events to come later on in the movie. This is best illustrated when Donnie is speaking to his psychiatrist about his frequent visits from Frank, Donnie explicitly states that he will do anything that Frank wants. Furthermore, he admits that “Frank will kill”; foreshadowing his fate. Frank embodies the central theme of the movie, which is ‘predetermined fate,’ in that Frank knows exactly what will happen next. Kelly also uses clever camera techniques when Frank and Donnie are communicating. Frank usually appears behind Donnie and the camera switches to allow the audience the see the...
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