November 6, 2010 11 Comments
Donnie Darko is, on its most basic level, a film that is homage to 80s culture. It’s a cult classic (like many 80s films!) that references other 80s films, uses popular 80s film themes, and is set in 1988. But that is not all Donnie Darko is about. The film also makes statements about the socio-political and cultural developments of the late 80s, the reversal of family roles, etc., as well as being a superhero film, or more properly, an anti-super-hero narrative. It’s also a film that presents the age-old debate about predestination and free will; it posits alternate dimensions and worlds. But that isn’t all, either. It also contains elements of Jungian psychoanalysis, gnosticism, and the occult.
And now, let’s analyze. Here is the opening sequence:
It ends with the line from “The Killing Moon” song, ‘fate, up against your will; he will wait until you give yourself to him.” The classical hero had to face up to his face and survive it with stoic resolve. That is one level of Donnie Darko – the hero who must face up to his destiny, and we have been clued in to this by the opening song.
We see at the dinner scene that the family is dysfunctional – the father is not a father, and will remain passive throughout the film, as the mother runs the family and the children are rebellious and profane. This relates to the film’s criticism of 80s culture, especially its backward, hypocritical suburban morality. Note at 5:53 we see the Escher drawing of the eye prominently displayed, and as many know, in the reflection of the pupil, is death. Death will be a major theme in the film, but not just the generic notion of death, but death from a particularly Jungian and gnostic perspective.
Consider as well when Donnie awakens from his dream state and enters his trance state, at 8:23 what is visible is the Led Zeppelin album label image for Swan Song, which features an image of Lucifer falling, next to the upside down flag, signifying nation in distress. I am speculating here, but perhaps the two images are linked. Perhaps not. Regardless, the Lucifer and eye imagery is prominent in the film throughout, as we will see. Consider again the two prominent images in Donnie’s room. Recall that it is the engine that will “fall” through the roof – right where the image of Satan is. Without getting into too much speculation, the All-seeing eye is sometimes associated with Lucifer or Satan, but it generally depends on the context and intent, since it is also used to refer to the omniscience of the true God. Solomon speaks of God’s all-seeing eye in the Proverbs. Egyptians applied the image to Horus as a symbol of the divine attribute of omniscience. Point being, it means different things, but in modern masonic and Satanic culture, it is often applied to Lucifer:
It’s important to know as well that in most films, the details are crucial. Directors and producers place things there for a reason – acute attention is given to details. And, if you watch DVD commentaries, you will see them often speak of this.
It is significant that Frank, the dead spirit that possesses Donnie, communicates at midnight. Midnight is associated in many traditions with liturgical actions, and presumably in the occult as well. We read in Stoker’s “Dracula”: “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”
The spirits of the dead and demons commune at midnight, and this is when Frank speaks to Donnie, especially as we move closer to Halloween, which will be very significant. That is when Donnie’s “world” will end, as Frank explains, when he first speaks to Donnie in a trance. Again, speculating here, but the first list of numbers are all composed of or can total 666. Six, in gematria, is the number of man, and in the Apocalypse of St. John, the number of the Beast. Frank says “28 days, 6 hours, 42 mins, 12 seconds” and the world will end. 8-2 is 6, 6 hours, 4+2 is 6, and 12 is 6 + 6. With the level of depth and thought put into the film, I don’t think this is a stretch, though I have no way to prove it, of course. Read more of this post