Meaning And Significance Of The Numbers 28:06:42:12 In Donnie Darko (2001)

Meaning And Significance Of The Numbers 28:06:42:12 In Donnie Darko (2001)

Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko is a mind-bending science fiction psychological thriller based in the 80s. The cult classic, released in 2001, does not fail to bewilder the viewers even two decades later. For understanding Donnie Darko better, it is imperative to interpret the puzzles and mysteries, especially the symbols, numbers, and motifs sprinkled throughout the movie. In this article, I will try to decipher the number 28:06:42:12, which does not fail to intrigue viewers even today.


28:06:42:12 Meaning In Donnie Darko


The movie Donnie Darko revolves around the concept of the Tangent Universe. A Tangent Universe is the exact copy of the Primary Universe, and it forms when there is a glitch in the Fourth Dimension Of Time. In the movie, shortly before a jet engine crashes into Donnie’s house on October 2, 1988, a glitch occurs. This is when Frank, a human-sized demonic-looking rabbit, guides him away from his house in his dreams, saving him. The prophetic rabbit warns him that the world will end in 28 days, six hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. Donnie found this number written on his arm after he woke up from sleepwalking. Therefore, the number 28:06:42:12 means the time that the world has left.

Many people attribute some level of clairvoyance to the numbers in the movie. 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds is not something random, but it comes from adding or subtracting one from each part of the figure 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 11 seconds, which is the precise length of one lunar month (by using the lesser-used sidereal definition instead of the usual synodic.) Donnie Darko was shot in 28 days, and there are 28 scenes in the director’s cut of this film. Whether this is intentional or not is unknown. 

Furthermore, if all the numbers in 28:06:42:12 are added, we get 88, and the movie is rife with the number 8. Here are some instances from the movie where the number 8 comes into the picture-:

  • When Samantha asks Donnie when she can have kids, he replies: “Not until 8th grade.”
  • Donnie also jokes about Back To The Future DeLorean, which had 88 MPH speed. 
  • He also tells his therapist that Callie, his pet dog, died when he was 8.
  • The flight which almost crashed is Flight 2806.

Coincidentally, the climax of Donnie Darko premiered a week before the US presidential election of 1988 (the year when George Bush won). According to another interpretation, 88 could be a reference (conscient or not) about the infinite loop, and each eight could refer to the two universes: the Primary Universe and the Tangent one. 

While we are at it, let us explore some other aspects of the movie Donnie Darko through these Frequently Asked Questions.




Q1. What Is Meant By A Tangent Universe (TU)?


Ans: Many abnormal events occur throughout the movie, and The Tangent Universe is one such occurrence, and the events of the film revolve around the creation of a Tangent Universe. A Tangent Universe is a copy of the original universe, a kind of an alternate universe. A Tangent Universe forms through glitches or corruptions in the Fourth Dimension. The Primary Universe (original) is put on hold when time begins in the Tangent Universe. TUs are “highly unstable,” and exist for only a few weeks. Eventually, they collapse on themselves, “forming a black hole within the Primary Universe, capable of destroying all existence,” according to the Philosophy of Time Travel (PoTT), a fictional book in the movie.

Tangent Universe comes into being at midnight on October 2nd and lasts for 28 days in an alternate reality. Frank guides Donnie out of his house and saves him from a crashing jet engine in the Tangent Universe because Donnie is The Living Receiver (a person who guides an artifact out of the TU, preventing the Primary Universe from collapsing.) The Artifact makes the TU unstable, and is something made of metal and appears spontaneously. In the movie, the artifact is the jet engine.

Q2. Who Is Frank In Donnie Darko?




Frank, the giant prophetic rabbit, is a member of the Manipulated Dead, someone who dies in the TU and thereby possesses special abilities to guide the Living Receiver in his mission to save the Primary Universe. Frank turns out to be the boyfriend of Elizabeth (Donnie’s elder sister). Frank is only created (as the Manipulated Dead) because Donnie kills him (to avenge Gretchen’s death). Frank was a force that was beneficial to prevent the destruction of the Primary Universe. However, Frank is alive in the original universe.


Q3. What Are Some Other Movies Like Donnie Darko?


Ans: Here are some movie suggestions for you if you love strange and mysterious thrillers like Donnie Darko-:

  • Mr. Nobody
  • Inception
  • Triangle
  • The Sixth Sense
  • The Machinist
  • Primer
  • Upstream Color
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Dark City 
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • The Game