How Donnie Darko let go of his fear of death
Shoutout to Lizzie
Ask young people what their favorite movie is, and they'll generally tell you that it's either Fight Club or Donnie Darko, which somewhat speaks of their transcendence, or, at least, lets you know that they push pretty much everyone's buttons in one way or another despite a few critics saying that they're overrated, forgetting that art is not perfection and popularity is not necessarily holding something in high esteem.
If anyone asks you what the movie's about, you'll generally mention something like mental illness, schizophrenia, time travel, alternate dimensions, or the guy in the stupid bunny suit who made lightweight philosophical commentary every once in a while. Some might even mention that hey, not only Jake Gyllenhaal is in the movie, but his sister is in it and she actually looks kind of good and they even play as brother and sister.
|I said kind of|
Before we go on, I'll try to keep this spoiler free but I will talk about some plot points and to be fair the movie's been there since the start of the millennium, so if you haven't seen it by this point, then you took your time, pal.
Donnie had two main problems which stemmed from the denial of his emotions, which were an existential fear of death and love, somewhat related to his lack of intimacy with a girl, or almost anyone else, for that matter. He was somewhat secluded from society aside from a couple of friends, and had a pretty dry view of the world, oftentimes materialistic, and would make questions like "What's the point of living if you don't have a dick?"
He regularly visits a psychiatrist who actually verbalizes his fear of love, and fear itself, and what angers him is that there is way more to the human psyche than these two emotions, and yet, these dominate his life profoundly and he must accept them in order to become a "savior", for lack of a better word.
The way he dealt with his existential dread was through the situations that arose whenever the weird bunny suit guy appeared, which would lead him to do things like flood the school, burn down a child pornography enthusiast's house, and actually talk to a crazy old lady who had pretty much become detached from reality. By the time he completes his tasks, he's not only rid of his dread, he actually experiences euphoria, and when he stays in bed with the knowledge that an airplane is about to crash into his room, he accepts it for he has accepted his emotions (and probably because there is a lot of analysis we could do about the real universe and tangent universe or whether the loop is destroyed at all but I really can't be bothered to research sixteen years of internet forums for that sort of answer).
What can we learn from this?
Although Donnie Darko may not seem profound to some, the commentary on mental sanity and acceptance of your emotions to fight off existential dread is something to be considered. Of course, you're not going to be visited by a one-eyed guy in a bunny suit, and if you are, then you might as well go to a psychiatrist like Donnie.
Nihilism and apathy for existence tend to come from an unwillingness to deal with tough emotions, but numbing yourself will eventually make you a blank slate of sorts and very volatile, and actually having the capacity to deal with your emotions in a healthy manner takes an integral care and acceptance for everything: joy, fear, love, hatred, and whatever other feelings you can think of. If you do it right, hell, you might even feel euphoria every once in a while, and when you actually feel that you've lived a proper life, then, you can let go of your fear of death.
Read more theories about Donnie Darko here: