This is one weird film, which on first take I didn't get at all. I hate films like that. I need spoon fed. If I wanted to think, I would go to work. I want mindless entertainment.
Anyhow, now that I read a little about it I think I would like to see it again, or see the directors cut. It looks a lot more informative, and I don't care what anyone says, there is no way you could get all this information from the theater cut.
I have included some information below as to what is in the book [The Philosophy Of Time Travel], it really explains a lot :)
from : http://www.cinemablend.com/forum/archive/topic/20205-1.html
"The Philosophy Of Time Travel" contents
I would like to thank the sisters of the Saint John Chapter in Alexandria, Virginia for their support in my decision.
By the grace of God, they are:
Sister Eleanor Lewis
Sister Francesca Godard
Sister Helen Davis
Sister Catherine Arnold
Sister Mary Lee Pond
Sister Virginia Wessex
The intent of this book is for it to be used as a simple and direct guide in a time of great danger.
I pray that this is merely a work of fiction.
If it is not, then I pray for you, the reader of this book.
If I am still alive when the events foretold in these pages occur, then I hope that you will find me before it is too late.
Roberta Ann Sparrow
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 at 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 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 civilisation, 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 for 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.
Those 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 neighbours of the Living Receiver.
They are prone to irrational, bizarre, and often violent behaviour. 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.
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
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 succesful, 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 Medievel Knight mysteriously impaled by the sword he had not yet built.
We are told that these things occur for a reason.
OK, now how does that fit in to the plot of Donnie Darko?
A wormhole is formed over a suburban town in October 1988. This forms a tangent universe, or an alternate universe that touches the primary (main) universe at exactly one place in time (midnight, Oct. 2, 1988). A jet engine in the primary universe falls off its plane during the flight on Oct. 30, and falls into the wormhole. It exits the wormhole in the tangent universe. There are now two of the exact same engines (or artifacts) in one universe, creating an imbalance. This imbalance corrupts the time-space continuum, and as a result, the tangent universe becomes unstable. It will remain stable for the time Frank tells Donnie (28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds). It will then collapse, forming a black hole, which will then destroy the primary universe.
To prevent this, a Higher Power (God, Allah, Buddha, etc.) chooses Donnie, a teenage chronic sleepwalker, and who fears being alone in the afterlife, to become the Living Receiver. His job is to take the artifact (the jet engine) from the tangent universe, and send it into the primary universe, thus restoring the balance, and closing the wormhole, saving all existence in the process. He is given "superpowers" to aid him in his task. The book lists these as increased strength, telekinesis, mind control, and the ability to conjure fire and water. Another one the book doesn't mention is the ability to see other's immediate futures (via their life paths a.k.a. their liquid spears). These powers, at first, appear to only work when Donnie is half-asleep or sleepwalking, but by the end, he has apparently learned to master them while he is fully conscious.
The Living Receiver will often have dreams and hallucinations while in the tangent universe (These do not explain Frank; they explain Donnie's dreams about the "city on water").
Everybody in the tangent universe is subconsciously aware of Donnie's task, and give him clues needed to complete his task. An example of these is "cellar door". The people are known as Manipulated Living.
If anyone dies in the tangent universe, they become Manipulated Dead. They can use the 4th Dimension Construct to help the Living Receiver. Frank is Donnie's older sister's boyfriend. He is killed early on Oct. 30 by Donnie, by a gunshot to the eye after accidently running over Gretchen, Donnie's girlfriend, while wearing the rabbit suit. He becomes a Manipulated Dead, and is assigned by the Higher Power to go back in time and guide Donnie to where he needs to be to complete his task. He sets up an "ensurance trap" (him running over Gretchen, leaving Donnie no choice but to go through with his task), and has Donnie complete certain tasks (flooding the school, setting Jim Cunningham's house on fire) to make sure the ensurance trap happens.
Once Donnie uses his telekinesis (one of his powers) to knock the jet engine off the plane (which his mother and sister happen to be on) into the wormhole and back to the primary universe, everybody is sent back to the primary universe along with it. Because the two universes touch at the exact same spot, everybody returns to the primary universe at the exact same point in time: Oct. 2, 1988. Anyone who is asleep (almost everybody) or half-asleep (Elizabeth) will think it was just a dream. They all will remember a specific part of their "dream". Cherita Chen being told that everything will be OK, Kitty Farmer learning about Jim Cunningham's secret, Jim knowing he will sooner or later get caught, and although we don't see it, Grandma Death getting Donnie's letter. Those who are awake at the time will remember. The example the film shows is Frank. He is honking his car horn when Elizabeth is walking into the house. He is aware that the jet engine will be landing on Donnie's bedroom, and is trying to wake up Donnie to save him.
One thing that isn't explained is whether Donnie remembers. There are two possibilities:
1) He also thinks it was just a crazy dream.
2) He is no longer afraid of death, because he knows he will not die alone (remember, that was one of his fears), and he accepts his fate.
Even though he does physically die by himself (he's all alone in his room), in the afterlife, he is not alone. He's convinced that God (or another Higher Power) does exist, and that his fear is unfounded.
And a few more notes that I didn't mention...
Cherita Chen represents both Donnie himself (by the fact that they are both loners, his name is on her book, and later, he wears her earmuffs), and all the good people he will be saving, should he complete his task.
Roberta Sparrow a.k.a. Grandma Death is the author of The Philosophy of Time Travel. In the Foreword of the book, she says that she hopes that the events in the book are fiction, but if they aren't, to contact her. This is why she's always going to her mailbox. She's starting to lose her faith (as a result of nobody writing her), and her telling Donnie that everyone dies alone shows this. She supposedly regains her faith after getting Donnie's letter, and we're led to assume that she remembers the letter when everybody returns to the primary universe.
The man in the red jogging suit is one of the FAA guys keeping an eye on Donnie.
The bathroom scenes with Frank and Donnie show the relevance of water and metal in the tangent universe. They are the two main "elements" used for time travel, according to the book.
Posted by: Phantasm
I highly prefer the theatrical release.