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Philosophical Elements of Donnie Darko

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by

Joshua Roemer

on 17 August 2014

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Transcript of Philosophical Elements of Donnie Darko

Questions about Determinism
Determinism
The movie uses the idea of determinism as seen in the image below
Donnie can see an orb like object protruding from his chest guiding him to future movements
This is a direct visual representation of determinism
Nietzsche
Donnie Darko is a science fiction set in the late 80's following Donnie Darko an estranged teen dealing with his peculiar visions.He encounters a near death experience, a 6 foot talking bunny rabbit,and an old lady who believes she has discovered the philosophy behind time travel.In the beginning of the film Donnie wakes to an ominous six foot rabbit demanding he leave his room.This results in Donnie surviving a freak accident in which a jet engine falls on his room. The bunny (Frank) then proclaims the world shall end in 28 days.
Movie Background
Philosophical Elements of Donnie Darko


Donnie debates the idea that if we can see our own future,can we change it?

Nietzsche, in his History of an Error, describes the five crucial stages of the history of philosophy
In describing these stages Nietzsche explains the differences between the true and apparent worlds
This same idea occurs in Donnie Darko, when the turbine crashes into Donnie's room in the beginning of the move it creates an alternate universe that lasts for 28 days
Freedom of Ultimate Destiny
In philosophy, we talked about how our final destination is our deepest aspiration, yet it is unknown. Donnie believes by looking through the portals that are leading each character to their future, he can see the future. By seeing his own destiny he debates whether he is truly free to change his future.
Donnie and Time Travel
State of Nature: Hobbes
During the film, Donnie begins reading "The Philosophy of Time Travel" a book about both determinism and freedom. The book argues that seeing ones own future is a form of time travel.
"If we were able to see our destinies we could change our destinies. But not if we travel within god's channel"

The movie very much follows Hobbes theories on the state of nature. Donnie is a member of society and has entered into it giving away some of his freedoms for the security it offers. However, when Donnie is completing the various missions that Frank sends him on, he leaves this society and goes back into the state of nature. He is simply acting without worrying about consequences and acting out of fear of Frank.
This quote is said by both Donnie and his science teacher throughout the movie. It says that if you can see your destiny and change it, does that mean that you can stray from the path god sent you on? Or can god see all the possibilities and keep everyone on their paths no matter what. This quote connects determinism and religion with god crafting all the predetermined paths.
By Josh Roemer and Chris Madonna
Full transcript