Donnie Darko (2001) Poster



Jump to: Spoilers (6)
Jake Gyllenhaal uses the strategy of rarely blinking to enhance his psychotic creepiness (as he is driven by Frank).
At the start of the movie, when Donnie rides his bicycle back into town, right after he passes the two ladies out "powerwalking," it is actually Frank passing by in his red Trans Am.
The song that plays as Donnie is riding his bike home in the theatrical version is "The Killing Moon" by Echo & The Bunnymen. As Gretchen waits for the school bus, a Volkswagen Rabbit vehicle quickly passes in front of her. When Elizabeth Darko is sleeping on the recliner, there is a stuffed rabbit next to her. As Donnie reaches for the car keys, there is a Polaroid picture of him and his sister in Halloween costumes on the desk. Donnie is dressed as a rabbit. When Donnie is talking to his sister after his mom leaves near the end, a "jack o lantern" bunny is seen on the table. Frank, the rabbit, often appears near a water source (sprinklers, water main, faucet).
The scene where Donnie corrects Gretchen was improvised because the actress could not say the name Prof. Kenneth Monnitoff correctly.
At the wrap party for the film, Seth Rogen and Jake Gyllenhaal agreed that they had no idea what the movie was about.
During conversations about sex with his therapist, the script had Donnie's fantasies be about Alyssa Milano. This had to be changed to Christina Applegate due to legal reasons.
Seth Rogen's feature film debut.
The words "Cellar Door" are written on the chalkboard in Karen Pommeroy's classroom. When Donnie asks about their meaning, she replies that "This famous linguist once said that of all the phrases in the English language, of all the endless combinations of words in all of history, that Cellar Door is the most beautiful." In the director's commentary Richard Kelly mistakenly attributes the phrase to Edgar Allan Poe, but it was actually J.R.R. Tolkien who, in his 1955 essay "English and Welsh", said that "Most English-speaking people . . . will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful."
In the "Cunning Visions" infomercial, Jim Cunningham pats a child on his behind. The young boy who wants to learn how to fight at the school assembly is the same boy in Jim Cunningham's infomercial (Larry Riesman).
In the movie theater scene, Richard Kelly originally intended to have Donnie and Gretchen going to see C.H.U.D. (1984). However, there were problems with finding out who owned the rights to the movie. Finally, Sam Raimi came to the rescue by allowing Kelly to use and distort footage from The Evil Dead (1981), free of charge. This scene was filmed at The Aero Theatre at 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA. The Aero closed in 2003 but re-opened in early 2005.
When casting for the role of Donnie's sister, it came to Richard Kelly's attention that Maggie Gyllenhaal (who had few film credits at the time) would be available for the shoot. The agent who proposed her casting reminded Kelly of her scene in Cecil B. DeMented (2000), where she drank urine. Though Kelly was slightly hesitant towards the idea, he did like the way she drank urine - and knew he wouldn't have to work hard at creating a sibling rivalry between her and her brother, star Jake Gyllenhaal.
When Donnie tells Gretchen he accidentally burned down a house, they are walking directly in front of Jim Cunningham's house. The Life Line Exercise Card that Donnie reads is about a girl finding a lost wallet. Later, Donnie finds Jim Cunningham's wallet on the sidewalk outside his mansion.
Frank says the world will end in "28 days 6 hours 42 minutes 12 seconds." That figure is not random: it comes from adding or subtracting 1 from each part of the figure 27d 7h 43m 11s, which is the precise length of one lunar month (by one of the less-used definitions - sidereal instead of the usual synodic).
The short story 'The Destructors' (which Karen Pomeroy discusses in her class that seemingly parallels the events occurring at the time in the "real" world, and was discussed as inappropriate at the PTA meeting ultimately leading to Pomeroy's dismissal) was written by Graham Greene. Graham Greene's birthday is October 2nd (1904). October 2nd, 1988 is the day Frank the Bunny tells Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, 06 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds.
Well out of his teens, Vince Vaughn reportedly turned down the part of Donnie due to his age. Mark Wahlberg was interested in the part, but apparently was only willing to play the part with a lisp. Jason Schwartzman was also strongly considered for Donnie, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Tim Robbins was the first choice for the role of Eddie Darko. Mara Wilson was considered for the role of Samantha Darko, but she turned it down.
Voted #9 in Film4's "50 Films To See Before You Die".
The first edit of the film ran 165 minutes. The director's cut is very close to the version that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2001.
During the film Donnie surrenders to the three temptations which Jim Cunningham mentions: alcohol, drugs and premarital sex. The other film that was being played in the cinema where Donnie and Gretchen watched The Evil Dead (1981) was The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
There are many comic book references that show up through the film. Gretchen comments on Donnie's name as sounding like a superhero, to which he replies "What makes you think I'm not?" Many characters have alliterative names (Donnie Darko, Cherita Chen, Frankie Feedler, Daye Dennis, Joanie James, Sean Smith, Donnie Dickson) like many comic book heroes (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Susan Storm etc.). Also, it is believed that Donnie is a superhero, as he has powers and he uses them to save others.
According to the commentary by Richard Kelly, the Man in the Red Jogging Suit is an agent from the FAA, which was so confused by the jet engine event that they sent agents to monitor the family members. The Mystery Woman, seen during Sparkle Motion's talent show performance, was a talent scout from Star Search (1983).
Newmarket Films, the movie's US distributor, approached Richard Kelly about doing a director's cut. He accepted the offer and did the re-edit with editor Sam Bauer in a swift nine days.
The original poster art for the movie had used an Arabic-style font, but this was changed to the more common Trajan typeface for the video release after the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001. However, the font retains its original style in the film itself.
The black-and-white poster in Donnie's room, of an eye reflecting a skull, is a reproduction of an etching by the artist M.C. Escher.
EASTER EGG: The DVD contains several Easter Eggs, or hidden items. Two are visible in the "Philosophy of Time Travel" book in the Special Features. On each of the appendix pages, press the up arrow on your remote and press enter. For Appendix A, the viewer gets a deleted scene about the flooding of the school, and Appendix B, the viewer gets a different trailer for the movie. Another can be found after selecting the "Cunning Visions" menu screen. At the bottom of the screen, highlight the Special Features menu entry, press the right arrow on your remote to highlight the icon, and press enter. This will allow you to enter a Web site gallery.
Noah Wyle's character, Prof. Kenneth Monnitoff, is seen eating hard candy in some scenes because Wyle decided his character would be diabetic.
Someone at the house party jumps on a trampoline, wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. This is taken from a photo of Hunter S. Thompson doing the same.
Voted number five in the list of Australia's 10 favorite movies.
Richard Kelly grew up in Midlothian, VA. This was used in one of the original scripts, but was later changed to Middlesex, VA.
Some songs featured in the movie were substitutes for songs which the makers wanted but were denied the rights to. The dance performance was performed to "West End Girls" by the Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe), and Duran Duran's "Notorious" was re-dubbed in post-production. U2's "MLK" in the final scene is substituted Gary Jules' cover of the Tears for Fears song "Mad World" instead.
As shown by the license plate on Frank's car at the end of the film, as well as many other cars in the film, "Donnie Darko" actually takes place in Virginia.
Richard Kelly said that the movie had a very difficult time finding a US distributor. Since the film embodied myriad genres and tones, distributors were confused by the movie's message, and how to market it. Additionally, Kelly also claims that "Darko" was very close to premiering on the Starz network until Newmarket Films picked up the film for theatrical distribution.
Richard Kelly came up with the idea for the future blobs while watching football. John Madden used to use a "telestrator," where he'd diagram a paused video to show where the players were about to go moments before letting the tape roll. Kelly watched this while high and started to think about what would happen, hypothetically, if "someone upstairs" was doing that to humans.
On the set of Charlie's Angels (2000), Drew Barrymore and Richard Kelly agreed that her production company, Flower Films, would produce this film for $4.5 million (and that Barrymore would play Ms. Pomeroy). Kelly says that if Barrymore hadn't stepped in, the movie would have either gone straight to video or cable TV via Starz.
The scene where Donnie, Gretchen and Donnie's other two friends ride bikes after the Halloween party was Richard Kelly's tribute to one of his favourite films E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). There are references to Kelly's favourite films throughout the film such as Back to the Future (1985) and Watership Down (1978).
The main bully is named Seth Devlin, which sounds like devil. A sticker inside his locker reads: "What would Satan do?"
Drew Barrymore's character Karen Pomeroy is named for sex researcher Wardell Pomeroy of the Kinsey Institute.
While filming the scene where Beth Grant speaks about how Donnie directed her to put a Lifeline exercise card in an uncomfortable place, Richard Kelly laughed so hard he had to leave the set.
Initially, Richard Kelly sought permission from the estate of Peyo, the Smurfs, to show a Smurf doll for Donnie and his friends to shoot at. While on the same conference call, Kelly was told that Donnie would also be allowed to talk about Smurf sex, because what had been written in the script was considered an accurate description.
Patrick Swayze wore his own clothes from the 1980s for the film.
Adapted by director Marcus Stern into a live stage production that was produced in October and November 2007 by the American Repertory Theatre's Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Despite persistent rumors, Richard Kelly insists that none of the characters in this film are based upon USC teachers or students.
Before former child actress Mara Wilson retired from acting, she got the script for the film to read for the role of Samantha Darko, but declined to audition for the film, due to being freaked out over the script at a time she was already physically ill in her hotel room in England.
In the scene were the entire school is flooded, you can see a shot of a message underneath the mascott's statue. It says: 'They made me do it'. Later in the scene of the Halloween party, just before the end, you can see a shot of a message on the fridge which says: 'Out to get beer, Frank'. The two texts are in the same hand writing which is a hint at the fact that the Frank-who-went-out-to-get-beer is the same Frank as Donnie's imaginary bunny.
When Donnie's mother asks Kitty if she has heard of Graham Greene, she replies that she has, since she's seen Bonanza (1959). However, Kitty is getting him confused with Lorne Greene, who appeared in the series. Sam Raimi, who allowed the Donnie Darko production to use and distort a clip from his movie Evil Dead free of charge, is married to one of Lorne Greene's daughters, Gillian. There is also a native Canadian actor, Graham Greene who has appeared in many films portraying native Americans including "Dances with Wolves". Graham Greene, the author, had many of his books adapted for films, including, "The Quiet American" (twice), "Brighton Rock" (twice) and "Our Man in Havana".
Mary McDonnell was so excited for her part that she got her first ever speeding ticket driving to the set.
9 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jim Cunningham's Cunning Visions infomercials were shot at Patrick Swayze's ranch in Calabasas, California.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Donnie returns home at the beginning of the movie, Rose is reading Stephen King's "It", which prominently features a clown. At the end of the movie, the passenger in Frank's car is dressed in a clown costume.
8 of 10 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Patrick Swayze portrays a Charismatic Educator promoting a questionable Education Course. Patrick Swayze was a former Scientologist, and Scientology has an Education Program called "Applied Scholastics".
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Final theatrical film of Patience Cleveland - who plays Roberta Sparrow. (Grandma Death)
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
When Gretchen comes to Donnie's house for the Halloween party, the music playing is 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by Joy Division.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Jena Malone couldn't pronounce Noah Wyle's character name properly, so Jake Gyllenhaal improvised and corrected Gretchen on how to pronounce Professor Monnitoff's last name. It stayed in the movie.
4 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Both Drew Barrymore and Mary McDonnell have starred in the Scream film series: Barrymore in Scream (1996) and McDonnell in Scream 4 (2011).
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Katharine Ross and Mary McDonnell were both paid scale for the film.
2 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The answering machine seen at the party is the same model as the one featured prominently in Sneakers, which also stars Mary McDonnell.
0 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Jim Cunningham depicts drugs, alcohol, and premarital sex as "instruments of fear." In the movie, Donnie smokes a cigarette, drinks alcohol, and engages in premarital sex. The climax of the movie occurs after he surrenders to all three temptations.
Early in the film when Donnie is riding his bike home, he passes Frank's car traveling in the opposite direction. This car later kills Gretchen, prompting Donnie to shoot Frank in the right eye (which Donnie had also stabbed through the water-mirror). Soon after, when time is "reset" and everybody wakes up to the Mad World song, Frank is wiping a tear from his eye.
Judging by what is seen and heard of The Evil Dead in the movie theater scenes, it takes the better part of an hour for Donnie to go from the movie theater to Jim Cunningham's house, start the fire, and go back to the theater, just in time to catch the end of the film (listen for Bruce Campbell's scream).
Jim Cunningham ends "Cunning Visions" with his lifespan; 1944-1988. "Philosophy of Time Travel", by Roberta Sparrow was published in 1944.
When Donnie is confronting Jim Cunningham at the assembly he tells him he "thinks he's the fucking anti-Christ." Donnie dies at the end to save several people's lives, thus making him a Christ-like character.
Roberta Sparrow is destined to look for a letter she will never receive. During the film she constantly checks her letterbox for a letter that is never there. Donnie decides to rectify this by sending one to her but he dies before he gets the chance to post it.

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page