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Donnie Darko starring Jake Gyllenhaal Jena Malone and Patrick Swayze is an edgycomplex psychological thriller about a suburban American teen dealing with the pressures of modern life and psychosis inducing anti-depressants As well as being a masterpiece of modern cinema Donnie Darko is also an excellent example of modern tragedy as defined by Northrop Fryes Modal theory Firstly the movie takes place in the month of October a subtle though not necessarily intentional link to the Modal theory in which Tragedy is connected to autumn Secondly Donnie Darko fits perfectly into the modern tragic hero description he is a regular upper-middle class teenager who is intelligent and relatively personable if somewhat antisocial His only weakness or tragic flaw if you will is his dependence on anti-depressants which make him moody and distant from his family It is assumed that his medication is what causes him to see Frank his imaginary friend in a bunny costume that eventually leads him to his downfall The real main conflict in the film is that between Donnie and his psychosis though there are many other antagonistic characters throughout the story or between Donnie and fate depending on ones interpretation It is this conflict that Donnie cannot emerge from victorious as proven by his alternate-reality death at the end of the film It is also this conflict that makes the film tragic Donnie cannot escape the fate prophesized by Frank who tells him that his world will end in 28 days Donnie Darko certainly questions the nature of human existence in its exploration of reality versus perception time travel and destiny The convoluted parallel universe structure can be interpreted as entirely invented by the chemically-scarred Donnie or as an actual tear in the space-time continuum that allows Donnie to actually change the past and alter the future Either interpretation challenges accepted views of human existence and the very fabric of the physical universe Regardless of your interpretation of the story
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