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Comparrison Donnie Darko, 2001: A Space Odyssey

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Donnie Darko and 2001: A Space Odyssey has central meanings that focus on science and religion. Richard Kelly's, Donnie Darko, introduces the protagonist as a teenage boy who is given the chance to live for twenty-eight more days after the mysterious jet engine crash that was intended to kill him. Donnie is plagued by visions of a giant sized evil-looking rabbit named Frank. Frank orders Donnie to commit acts of violence, warns of the impending end of the world, and is his guide throughout the movie. Donnie is portrayed as a Christ-like figure that will ultimately travel back in time not only to redeem his actions, but the actions of those he has affected. When Donnie dies he becomes a martyr and saves the world, like Christ. Stanley Kubrick's, 2001: A Space Odyssey portrays human evolution while being guided by a higher intelligence. Although this higher intelligence is anonymous throughout the movie, it has placed mysterious stone structures known as "monoliths" on the moon, Saturn, and Earth. These monoliths have purposively been around for over 4,000 years and are a symbol of evolution. At each new level of human achievement, the monolith is present. The scene in A Space Odyssey, where astronaut David Bowman lands on the enigmatic monolith, focuses on an evolutionary theme, whereas the montage scene in Donnie Darko shows the reverse of time followed by Donnie laughing in bed awaiting death, thus unraveling an underlying Christian theme in which Donnie is Christ-like for sacrificing himself to save the world.

The sequence that portrays the central meaning in Donnie Darko is disclosed in the montage, consisting of scenes throughout the movie being shown in reverse. During the montage the jet engine from Mrs. Darko's plane is seen crashing through the sky. Normally an engine would crash into the ground, but it travels through a surreal portal, which is a sign of divine intervention. It is now known that the engine's destination is towards Donnie's bedroom, as indicated in the beginning and ending of the film. The ensuing shots are taken from scenes that occurred earlier in the movie, filmed in reverse, indicating that Donnie is traveling back into time. As the montage progresses, Donnie reads the letter that he has written to Roberta Sparrow. He says, "I can breathe a sigh of relief, because there will be so much to look forward to" (Donnie). This realization suggests that Donnie now believes in God and an afterlife. Following the montage, Donnie is shown laughing in his bed now that he has successfully time traveled and has learned to cope with his imminent death. This is comparable to Jesus Christ being sacrificed on the cross for our sins. Donnie sacrificed himself in order to save the world and conceal the sins of characters Jim Cunningham and Frank. In order to come to this realization, certain events have to occur which can also be seen as the divine plan of God. Frank tells Donnie to flood the school. As a result of the school being flooded, it is cancelled. Donnie is then able to meet Gretchen who gives him the confidence and happiness he needs to finally go back in time and sacrifice himself.

A Space Odyssey, on the other hand, spans the entire course of human development and evolution. The central meaning of a Space Odyssey is portrayed in the scene where astronaut David Bowman arrives at the perplexing monolith. After dissembling Hal, the symbol for technological advancement, Bowman continues to venture towards Saturn where he finally arrives at the monolith and uncovers its mysteries. Bowman sees himself aging over time until he is lying on his deathbed with the monolith overlooking him. Bowman is then transformed from a physical being into a spiritual space baby. This suggests that perhaps evolution does not end with the technological age, but continues to advance in the future. An intelligent superior being that is anonymous throughout the movie transforms Bowman into this spiritual form. This superior being has strategically placed these monoliths as a checkpoint. Each checkpoint represents a new stage of human evolution. The checkpoint that Bowman encounters transcends the gap between the physical and spiritual being.

The costuming in the two scenes is entirely different. While lying in bed, Donnie wears nightclothes typical of any teenager. The costuming in this scene adds no significance to the overall viewing of the film. Bowman, however, can be seen wearing his space suit. As Bowman's age progresses, he is seen wearing a completely black outfit. This adds to the mysteriousness of the futuristic room as well as the context of what is happening. Lying on his deathbed, Bowman wears a white shirt, symbolic for innocence, before he is transformed into the spiritual space baby form.

Scene composition is essential for the effectiveness of both films. The montage scene in Donnie Darko is effective by recapping the important events that occur earlier in the film and show that time travel is in progress. The



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