How Christopher Nolan Helped Make Sense of Donnie Darko

This year marks the 20th anniversary of cult film Donnie Darko and with two decades between now and its original release we're learning some interesting elements about how it all came together. In a tremendous oral history write-up on The Ringer about the making of the movie, writer/director Richarrd Kelly revealed that filmmaker Christopher Nolan saw an early cut of the movie and not only liked it but offered one suggestion that ended up helping the movie become....well, at least slightly less confusing, while also helping the movie find its distribution in the end with nothing more than a nod.

"Aaron (Ryde, executive producer) he brought his bosses at Newmarket [Films] in to screen the movie and he invited Christopher Nolan and his wife Emma," Kelly said in the piece. "When the lights came up, Chris and his wife both turned to the Newmarket executives, Chris Ball and Will Tyrer, and they both looked over at them and they nodded. They were like, 'You guys should distribute this.' And they gave me some suggestions. Chris and his wife, it was their idea to put the parenthetical beneath the title cards."

As viewers may recall, one of Donnie Darko's first scenes is the grim warning from Frank the Rabbit about the upcoming end of the world which will take place in "28 days, six hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds." The parenthetical's as Kelly says help the audience keep track of how much time is left (as seen below)

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(Photo: Newmarket Films)

Kelly continued, "The one thing I never got to do that still drives me crazy is the engine going through the time portal. The digital shot of the jet engine, to me, I just can’t stand looking at it. We just did not have the money. I wanted to do a whole big miniature of the engine ripping off of the plane and the interior of the plane ripping apart, and then the engine breaking apart and plummeting down through the time portal. I wanted to do it the way Christopher Nolan gets to do things. Maybe one day I will get to do that. Let’s see what happens."

As film fans recall, Christopher Nolan's latest film Tenet crunched the numbers and determined that to achieve the best effect for one of the stunts in the movie it would be easier and cheaper to blow up an actual Boeing 747 rather than do it through visual effects.