*extract from "The Philosophy of Time Travel"*

< p align="center">The Tangent Universe < p align="center">The Primary Universe is fraught with great peril. War, plague, famine and natural disaster are common. Death comes to us all. The Fourth Dimension of Time is a stable construct, though it is not impenetrable. Incidents when the fabric of the fourth dimension becomes corrupted are incredibly rare. If a Tangent Universe occurs, it will be highly unstable, sustaining itself for no longer than several weeks. Eventually it will collapse upon itself, forming a black hole within the Primary Universe capable of destroying all existence. < p align="center">The Artifact and the Living < p align="center">When a Tangent Universe occurs, those living nearest to the Vortex will find themselves at the epicenter of a dangerous new world. Artifacts provide the first sign that a Tangent Universe has occured. If an Artifact occurs, the Living will retrieve it with great interest and curiosity. Artifacts are formed from metal, such as an Arrowhead from an Ancient Mayan civilization, or a Metal Sword from Medieval Europe. Artifacts returned to the Primary Universe are often linked to religious iconography, as their appearance on Earth seems to defy logical explanation. Divine intervention is deemed the only logical conclusion for the appearance of the Artifact. < p align="center">The Living Receiver < p align="center">The Living Receiver is chosen to guide the Artifact into position for its journey back to the Primary Universe. No one knows how or why a Receiver will be chosen. The Living Receiver is often blessed with Fourth Dimensional Powers. These include increased strength, telekinesis, mind control, and the ability to conjure fire and water. The Living Receiver is often tormented by terrifying dreams, visions and auditory hallucinations during his time within the Tangent Universe. Those surrounding the Living Receiver, known as the Manipulated, will fear him and try to destroy him.

*end of extract*

To comply with the book "The Philosophy of Time Travel," when a jet engine is misdirected to a tangent universe, the protagonist, Donnie is chosen to realign the "artifact". If Donnie were to fail this task, the tangent universe, (which has recently collided with the 'real' universe) and the real universe itself will both fall apart. This is consistent with the idea that once the tangent universe and the real universe meet, existence is only possible for approximately 4 weeks. However, to ensure Donnie does not fail this task, he is aided by the manipulative dead, and the manipulative living. The manipulative living are often people associated with the "living receiver". The manipulative dead on the other hand are people who have died during the cycle of the tangent universe's existence. That is to say, that everyone Donnie comes into contact with helps him find out what he has to do.

The Fourth Dimensional Construct is made of Water. Therefore, Donnie's ability to conjure water allows him to contact Frank from the real universe. When Donnie is awake, we are shown the real universe that has been affected by the tangent universe. When Donnie is asleep, however, we are shown the tangent universe, where Donnie has superhuman strength (axe embedded in the solid statue).

When Donnie is awake, all the events that took place while he was sleep walking (in the tangent universe) seem very distant and vague memories. However when Donnie is hypnotized, he enters his subconscious memories and is able to tell his therapist what he did (flood the school, and "set fire to that perverts house").

Towards the end of the movie, Donnie understands how to use his powers and understands what he must use them for. He realizes that he has to send the jet engine back through a wormhole that appears. So, he uses his powers to tear the jet engine off the airplane that his family is in. Donnie accomplishes this at the top of the mountain where he woke up at the start of the film. There is some speculation as to why he returns here, however, if you watch the DVD with audio commentary, you find out he just wants a good view of what he is about to do.

At the end of the movie, Donnie is laughing. Again some people have compared this with the laughter at the beginning of the film where Donnie wakes up on top of the mountain. At the beginning of the film, Donnie laughs because he just woken up on top of a mountain… wouldn’t you? At the end however, he laughs for one of two reasons. One, he thinks that all the events that took place was only a dream, and an absurd one at that; or two, he realizes what is about to happen and is somewhat enlightened.

NOTE: "The Philosophy of Time Travel" by Roberta Sparrow is a fictional book created solely for the purpose of further explaining the ideas behind the movie. It can be found on the donnie darko website: www.donniedarko.com. The web site requires Flash and it can take a long time to load display.

Updated on 09/18/06 by GrouchyOldMan for copyright compliance. CST Approved