www.donniedarko.com

Let it be known: I "borrowed" the idea for this title from noder holliman who noded How to Navigate the Requiem for a Dream website with some degree of success, but not without good reason. The very same creative web design studio, Hi-ReS! (www.hi-res.net), is responsible for both film's sites which are extremely similar.

Donnie Darko is an incredible mind bending movie released in fall 2001. It features healthy doses of time travel, teenage angst, searching for God, prophetic visions, 80's culture, anti-authoritarian overtones, philosophical/theological confusion, insight into the human soul, amazing plot twists and gut-busting melodrama.

While the Donnie Darko website enriches the understanding of the movie's characters, themes, ideas and undercurrents, it is a stand alone masterpiece. With the exception of one well marked spoiler, the entire site can be seen and enjoyed without seeing the movie. Of course, it makes much more sense once you have see it. Several of the character's ambiguous pasts, futures and alternative realities are expanded on in the website.

Instead of a simple hype machine that many other movie websites have become, www.donniedarko.com is an intruiging experience. It has to been seen, heard and played through to truly understand. In addition to the jagged artistic lines and ethereal backgrounds composing the majority of the site, there's an array of creepy music clips, several side-branching mock websites related to fictitious businesses from the movie and a whirlwind of spinning letters, words, quotes and key phrases.

Because of the unique nature, deliberately confusing design and password guarded sections of the site, some proper guidance might be needed to access the entire thing. The problem compounds because it is possible that the site can load a page incorrectly, making it impossible to go on. Several people I know have gotten "stuck" and were unable to further access the site, either through technical error or just because they didn't know where to click next. Personally, I've gotten to the phone conversation between the flight officials in Britian and the US and I don't think it goes any further. If it does (and I wouldn't be surprised) or if you know of interesting side branches that I missed, please /msg me! Otherwise, if you get stuck, then refer to guide below or try reloading the page from the beginning (www.donniedarko.com) or the "Further" page if you've gotten that far (www.donniedarko.com/further.html).

  • Intro

    The basic premise of the site is introduced here. You progress by click on areas that look interesting. First off, there will be a mini-browser of Donnie with a red target near his hand. (These mini-browsers aren't real browsers, they're just Flash creations that look and act like browsers.) Click the target. Next, you should be at clock telling you how long ago the "Tangent universe collapsed"... Which really means how long about the movie was released in the US. Click proceed. A mini-browser pops up and asks for a Level 1 password if you've visited the site before.

    If you want to know all the passwords for the site, see the ASCII map below. Entering the Level 1 password brings you to "Further" (www.donniedarko.com/further.html) which I consider the central hub of this sprawling, beautiful mess.

    If you want to figure all this out yourself, then click proceed without typing the password. Clicking proceed brings you to an official looking judicial document concerning Donnie. After clicking on the document, a police report in computer text concerning several of Donnie's illegal activities appears. Say "Y" to both Y/N? questions to proceed. This should bring up the "Further" page.

  • Further (Main Page)

    I consider "Further" to be the main page as it branches off into three "levels". There is picture of Donnie staring at mountains in the distance in the lower right. About ten to fifteen little red dots with single words from quotes from the movie are scattered across the page. There are three red crosshairs around Donnie. Moving the mouse pointer over all of the crosshairs brings up the words "Everyone dies alone". Clicking the crosshairs send you to one of the three levels given you know the password for each of them. Level 1 doesn't require a password. Once again, see below if you want the passwords.

    • Level 1

      The beginning of Level 1 looks similar to the Further page. Instead of Donnie staring at mountains, it's a picture of skeleton with a thin sharp triangle extending from his chest across most of the screen. Clickable pluses appear just above this line. The first opens an obituary for Roberta Sparrow (aka Grandma Death) who wrote "The Philosophy of Time Travel". The next plus opens an obituary for Dr. Monitoff, the physics professor that gives Donnie the same book. Monitoff evidently dies of hit and run accident (possibly not an accident?) several years after the movie. The third plus opens up a quizzical mini browser asking you to enter the one whose "Name is that of a bird" (answers below). After answering, a black and white picture of a letter from Mrs. Monitoff to the Library of Congress opens.

      Three mini-browsers should pop up telling you to "Remember one word: Smurf". The background will change to all black with a freaky picture of Donnie holding an ax over his shoulder in the upper right. Clicking on him starts some discordant, creepy piano music and brings up mini-browsers of the father Darko and Donnie driving in a car and Roberta Sparrow lurching unsteadily in front of them. After that, four mini-browsers should form the upper half of Donnie's body. Clicking on that should launch yet another mini-browsing asking if you remember the "one word". Answer correctly and Donnie's letter to Roberta will appear in the four earlier mini-browsers (the one he recites near the end of the movie). Click on the only red word in the note, "Breathe", and a mini-browser with Roberta appears telling you the password to level 2. From here, you can either A.) Click Robert's mini-browser to go back to Further or B.) Click the pluses in the background to open up chapters of the Roberta's "The Philosophy of Time Travel". NOTE: Unfortunately, clicking the pluses only brings up the chapter titles of the book now for some reason. See noder Kawika's write up under The Philosophy of Time Travel for a summary of text or go to www.tangent-universe.org/time-travel.html.

    • Level 2

      After entering the level 2 password, a red cross appears in the middle of the screen. Click that and the "Golf Course" screen appears. It shows a scenic view of a putting green in the lower right. There should be a small red box to click on. It will open up the obituary of Jim Cunningham (the "motivational speaker" played by Patrick Swayze). A second small red box should appear. Clicking it makes a pair of golfers and a sleeping Donnie appear on the golf course. Click on the golfers and the Lifeline exercise from the movie will appear. Click the television to get things rolling. Using the mouse pointer as the chalk, mark the fear side of the chalk board for both questions (or just scribble on the chalk board for fun). After marking the Lifeline exercise, click the television a few more times. It should bring you back to the golf course. Click on Donnie to wake him up. A strange line should slowly move from his face to a spot in the background where an arrow should appear. Click the arrow and a mini-browser opens and asks "Who found the wallet?". I don't think you can answer this question; after about 10 seconds the mini-browser will automatically close and you'll be brought to the sidewalk outside Cunningham's house.

      Click the box that's flashing on the sidewalk. A mini-browser of Donnie find Cunningham's license should open. Click the mini-browser and the background will change to several red line and a blinking red box. It will also launch an article about how a woman takes of Cunning Visions (Cunningham's self help organization) several years after the events in the Primary universe of the movie. Click the red box and it opens up another view of Cunningham's sidewalk, only from a different angle. Click the wallet on the ground and a mini-browser should appear. Move the mouse pointer over the blacked out lines to reveal more information, but do not click them yet. First, take note of the street Cunningham lives on before clicking one of the blacked out lines. After clicking, Sparkle Motion should begin dancing in the background while mini-browsers of Donnie burning Cunningham's house appear. Click the mini-browsers until you receive the text "Burn it down, Donnie". You will then be taken back to Further.

    • Level 3

      After entering the password for level 3, you are taken to what looks like a crime investigation scene. Click the timestamp near the middle and a mini-browser accompanied by a loud crash should open. Click the mini-browser and a spoiler warning comes up. It tells you that might not wish to view the next thing if you haven't seen the movie yet. If you proceed, there is an official document discussing the mysterious engine that falls into Donnie's room. After clicking on the document, a strange phone conversation between government officials in the US and Britian occurs. Finally, after the weird conversation, black text appears in the background saying "time is up, donnie". This is the final dead end. I don't think you can go any further than this.

And now... For your viewing pleasure: The definite ASCII map to help your navigation through the maze like www.donniedarko.com! Complete with passwords!

Key: MB stands for mini-browser, passwords are pipelinked, + is where you find a password.

           www.donniedarko.com --- Donnie Darko info
                          |
                          |
          MB (Frank and Donnie in bathroom)
                          |
                          |
          "Tangent Universe collapsed" clock
                          |
                          |
  MB (Enter level 1 password if you've been here before)
            |                              |
            |                              |
      Proceed here                      PASSWORD
            |                              |
            |                              |
Intro ("pay close attention")              |
            |                              |
            |                              |
    Judicial document                      |
            |                              |
            |                              |
  Police report in computer text           |
           and                             |
Looping Y/N? Question. Say Y twice.        |
                    \                      |
                     \                     |
                      \                    |
           Donnie staring at mountains in background
          MAIN PAGE (www.donniedarko.com/further.html)
         /                   |                     \
        /                    |                      \
       /                     |                       \
Level 1 (bottom)       Level 2 (right)        Level 3 (left)
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
Skeleton on right        PASSWORD                   PASSWORD
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
Clickable pluses        Golf course      Investigation Scene
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
Teacher's Obituaries (+)  Cunningham's Obituary   MB (Crash)
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
PASSWORD      Life line exercise            Spoiler warning
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
Letter to library    12 MBs (wake up Donnie)        Document
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
Remember smurf (+)   Donnie waking up     Phone conversation
|                            |                          |
|                            |                          |
|   MB: (Who found the wallet?) No answer; Just wait.   |
|                            |                          |
|                            |   "time is up, donnie" (END?)
MBs (Dad Darko driving)      \__________________________
|                                                       \
|                                                       |
MBs (Picture of Donnie)           Outside Cunningham's House
|                                                       |
|                                                       |
PASSWORD            Finding wallet and MB of Cunning Visions
|                                                       |
|                                                       |
Letter (Donnie to Roberta, +)    Cunningham's license MB (+)
|                                                       |
|                                                       |
Roberta MB ______________            Dancing Sparkle Motion
|                        \                              |
|                        |                              |
Close MB             Click MB            MBs (burning house)
|                        |                              |
|                        |                              |
|                        |            "Burn it down, Donnie"
|                        |                              |
|                        |                              |
|                        | _____________________________/
|                        |/               
|                        |
|                        |         
|               Back to MAIN PAGE   
|
|
"The Philosophy of Time Travel" (Dead end, no longer works)

Awards

Hi-ReS! collected quite a few awards for this website:

  • Prix Ars electronica 2002: Net Excellence, Award of Distinction
  • 6th annual Webby Awards 2002 in Film Category
  • Flash Film Festival 2002 San Francisco: Best Experimental Site
  • Art Directors Club New York 2002: Silver Award Interactive Media.

    Related websites:

  • www.tangent-universe.org/time-travel.html (text and pictures from "The Philosophy of Time Travel" section at the end of level 1 which no longer works)
  • www.hi-res.net
  • www.requiemforadream.com
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