Imaginative journeys: Relating Colerdige's "Frost at Midnight" to Richard Kelly's film "Donnie Darko". (Australian HSC essay - recieved 98%)

Essay by redlaurenCollege, Undergraduate March 2005

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Donnie Darko is a troubled schizophrenic teenager who lives in the picturesque American suburb of Middlesex. When an unidentified giant aeroplane engine crashes into his room, a chain of mysterious events is triggered. Donnie is visited in his sleep by a giant bunny called Frank, god-like prophet who has a gunshot wound over his eye, encourages him to sleepwalk, and consequently, saves Donnie from the jet engine, telling him that the world will end in 28 days. As this day (Halloween) approaches, Donnie stops taking his medication, becomes increasingly detached from reality and alienated from his quietly dysfunctional family and frustrating school life. His only respites are his new girlfriend Gretchen, Frank's night time visits, and his discovery of the possibility of time travel, to which he is sure Frank is linked. The plot takes a devastating turn, as on Halloween, Gretchen is fatally hit by a speeding car.

The driver steps from behind the wheel, to be revealed as none other than Frank. Donnie, overcome with rage and grief, kills Frank with one lethal shot to the head, before fleeing with Gretchen's body. Donnie realises the only way to change the course of events is to go back in time (utilising the break in the space/time continuum, that is, the trigger for the end of the world), be killed by the falling jet engine and in turn, avert the world's end. The film ends with this shift in time and the vindication of Donnie's ideas (formerly attributed to mental illness), with Donnie's family grieving outside their house as emergency services rush to the scene. Gretchen, a stranger to Donnie at this point, cycles past and waves, unaware of his sacrifice for her. Sub-plotlines revolve around the satirical characters of life-coach/motivational speaker Jim Cunningham, who is...