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You may have seen it, but then again you may not have.  If the latter, then I suggest you rent it. If you have seen it and have no idea what was going on, as I was the first time I watched it, here is some help.

We see Donnie, played by Jake Gyllenhaal seemingly a troubled teen suffering from Schizophrenia.  On October 2nd he is called from his bed by Frank, a 6 food bunny rabbit, resulting in him not being in bed when a jet engine crashes through the house into his bedroom.  This is the start of a Tangent Universe, an alternative to the Physical Universe.

Tangent Universe

The Philosophy of Time Travel states that time is usually a stable construct but every now and then the fourth dimension gets corrupted. When this happens it creates a Tangent Universe which is highly unstable and will only last a few weeks before it collapses in upon itself. There is a danger that when the Tangent Universe collapses it could cause a black hole capable of destroying the Physical Universe as well.

This is what happens in the movie, there is a corruption in time and at midnight on October 2nd a Tangent Universe is created. The next 28 days are now set in this alternate reality. Shortly after the Tangent Universe starts Frank wakes Donnie up and lures him out of the house. A few minutes later a huge jet engine falls though the rip in time and lands in Donnie’s bedroom.

It is important to remember that the Tangent Universe is NOT created by the jet engine or Frank waking up Donnie. We are already within the Tangent Universe when both those events occur. Unfortunately we never find out what caused the Tangent Universe to begin, it’s just an unexplained phenomenon.

The Artifact

According to the Philosophy of Time Travel when a Tangent Universe is created an Artifact will also spontaneously appear. The Artifact is the first sign of evidence that a Tangent Universe has been created and are always made from metal. In this case the Artifact is a giant jet engine.

Where the Artifact originally comes from is never disclosed. It was most likely created as the Tangent Universe was being formed. The Tangent Universe is an exact copy of the Tangent Universe with one of everything copied into it. During the copying process there was a glitch and two jet engines were formed. The second engine has nowhere to go as it already exists so it’s just dumped where the Tangent Universe began, over Donnie’s house.

The Artifact makes the Tangent Universe unstable; it can’t handle having the anomaly of a duplicate object within it. In order for the Tangent Universe to unravel without forming a black hole it must once again be an exact copy of the Physical Universe. By removing one of the duplicate jet engines it will balance out the Universe allowing the Tangent Universe to collapse safely. The only way to remove the Artifact is to send it through a portal into the Physical Universe.

The Living Receiver

When a Tangent Universe occurs with an Artifact then a Living Receiver is also chosen. This person is chosen seemingly at random and in this case Donnie is the chosen one. As Donnie was at the epicentre of the Tangent Universe this is most likely why he was selected. The Living Receiver’s mission is to guide the Artifact out of the Tangent Universe.

This person is usually blessed with some supernatural powers during their time in the Tangent Universe to help them with their quest. Some of these include increased strength, mind control, the ability to conjure fire and water and telekinesis.

He uses strength to bury the axe into the school water pipe and solid bronze mascot.
He uses fire to burn Jim Cunningham’s house down
He floods the school and constructs a time portal from water.
He uses telekinesis to rip the jet engine off the plane to send it through the time portal.
Donnie is not aware of his responsibilities at first though and he doesn’t even know he is within a Tangent Universe. As his journey continues he slowly starts to realise what is going on and what he must do.

Manipulated Dead

Anyone connected to the Living Receiver who dies in the Tangent Universe becomes Manipulated Dead. These people are very powerful and have the ability to move through time and talk to the Living Receiver through a Fourth Dimensional Construct. They also have some knowledge of the impending disaster and help guide the chosen one.

Frank is killed in the Tangent Universe and therefore becomes one of the Manipulated Dead. He travels back in time and helps Donnie with his quest to return the Artifact. The first thing he must do is save Donnie by waking him up before he gets squashed by the jet engine. He is like a reverse ghost who appears before he was killed. Gretchen is also Manipulated Dead but she doesn’t appear to Donnie in the same way as it might be to confusing for him.

Manipulated Living

All the people connected to the Living Receiver are the Manipulated Living and these people will subconsciously help guide the Living receiver. They will behave in the exact perfect way necessary to push Donnie toward his eventual destiny. Nearly every event in the film has a specific purpose designed to aid Donnie to save the Universe.

The driving force behind there behaviour is God. It’s actually a very religious film, the idea that you follow God’s channel to decide your own fate. God is moving all the characters around like pieces on a chessboard, making a sequence of events that will lead to Donnie’s success. The Universe is in grave danger and God has stepped in to help save it.

The Ensurance Trap

The Philosophy of Time Travel states that all the Manipulated are trying to lure the Living Receiver into a trap so has no choice but to send the Artifact out of the Tangent Universe into the Physical Universe. The Philosophy of Time Travel calls this the Ensurance Trap (old English) . This is effectively the role all the Manipulated play, they are trying to save themselves by guiding Donnie to complete his mission. If Donnie fails they die as well.

Frank tells Donnie to flood the school which in turn leads to Donnie walking Gretchen home and him then asking her to be his girlfriend. This event is not just coincidence; it’s specifically put in place as part of the trap.

Gretchen plays a crucial role in the trap, remember Donnie only meets and falls in love with her within the Tangent Universe. He is given someone to love then she dies. He’s so upset at Frank for killing Gretchen he shoots him dead. This has now created Manipulated Dead Frank, the person guiding him to do these things. He must create Manipulated Dead Frank in order to be saved himself in the beginning.

The manipulated have now successfully set the trap. Donnie was saved from death and is now in a desperate situation. His girlfriend is dead and he’s a killer on the run. He knows what his purpose is now and only has one way out even though it will ultimately end his own life. Sending the engine through a portal will erase the last 28 days from history and time will return to October 2nd… back to when Gretchen was still alive.

The End of the Film

At the end of the film we see a vortex appear over Donnie’s house. It’s the beginning of the Tangent Universe collapse and is centred over where it began. Donnie is aware of what he must do now so he drives up the mountain for a better vantage point. The plane with the same jet engine has been manipulated to fly overhead at this exact time. Donnie rips the engine off using telekinesis, constructs a time portal from water and guides the engine through it.

We now see parts of the last 28 days rewinding as the Tangent Universe starts to unravel. The Tangent Universe has collapsed safely and the PU that was on pause starts back up from when it stopped. We are now back in reality on October 2nd, the last 28 days never happened. Donnie wakes up in his bed laughing after dreaming some of the events within the Tangent Universe. He then goes back to sleep seemingly content with life now. The experience has brought him closer to God and he is no longer afraid to die. The jet engine Donnie sent through the time portal then falls into his bedroom killing him.

Many people assume Donnie has to die otherwise the Tangent Universe would start over again. From a scientific point of view Donnie’s death is not relevant at all , the corruption is already fixed before he dies and if he got up and avoided death then nothing would change. The Philosophy of Time Travel tells us of previous Receiver’s who died after the Artifact was returned but we only here about them because there death defies logic. Any Receiver’s who escaped death would go completely unnoticed.

It’s almost certain Roberta Sparrow was a Living Receiver in a previous Tangent Universe and that is how she came to write the Philosophy of Time Travel. She survived her experience proving that the Receiver doesn’t always have to die.

This film does blend science and religion together so his death may emphasise him as a saviour and his belief in God. In death Donnie’s role as the Living Receiver seems even greater than before.

Dreams

Even though the last 28 days never actually happened some of the Manipulated will be haunted in their dreams by their experiences within the Tangent Universe.

There are bits of evidence to prove this. Frank touching his eye in the final montage and Gretchen waving to Donnie’s mum proves that some of the characters have some knowledge of what happened within the lost world.

We see Jim Cunningham crying in the montage as he wakes up… clearly disgusted with himself. Ten days later he clears out his child pornography dungeon and shoots himself on the 14th hole of the golf course… his dirty secret is never revealed.

The book “Philosophy of Time Travel” by Roberta Sparrow has the following chapter that tries to explain the basis of time travel.

Chapter One:
The Tangent Universe

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.

Chapter Two:
Water And Metal

Water and Metal are the key elements of Time Travel.

Water is the barrier element for the construction of Time Portals used as gateways between Universes as the Tangent Vortex.

Metal is the transitional element for the construction of Artifact Vessels.

Chapter Four:
The Artifact And The Living

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 occurred.

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.

Chapter Six:
The Living Receiver

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 a 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.

These surrounding the Living Receiver, known as the Manipulated, will fear him and try to destroy him.

Chapter Seven:
The Manipulated Living

The Manipulated Living are often the close friends and neighbors of the Living Receiver.

They are prone to irrational, bizarre, and often violent behavior.

This is the unfortunate result of their task, which is to assist the Living Receiver in returning the Artifact to the Primary Universe.

The Manipulated Living will do anything to save themselves from Oblivion.

Chapter Ten:
The Manipulated Dead

The Manipulated Dead are more powerful than the Living Receiver. If a person dies within the Tangent Dimension, they are able to contact the Living Receiver through the Fourth Dimensional Construct.

The Fourth Dimensional Construct is made of Water.

The Manipulated Dead will manipulate the Living Receiver using the Fourth Dimensional Construct (see Appendix A and B).

The Manipulated Dead will often set an Ensurance Trap for the Living Receiver to ensure that the Artifact is returned safely to the Primary Universe.

If the Ensurance Trap is successful, the Living Receiver is left with no choice but to use his Fourth Dimensional Power to send the Artifact back in time into the Primary Universe before the Black hole collapses upon itself.

Chapter Twelve:
Dreams

When the Manipulated awaken from their Journey into the Tangent Universe, they are often haunted by the experience in their dreams.

Many of them will not remember.

Those who do remember the Journey are often overcome with profound remorse for the regretful actions buried within their Dreams, the only physical evidence buried within the Artifact itself, all that remains from the lost world.

Ancient myth tells us of the Mayan Warrior killed by an Arrowhead that had fallen from a cliff, where there was no Army, no enemy to be found.

We are told of the Medieval Knight mysteriously impaled by sword he had not yet built.

We are told that these things occur for a reason.

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