[Solved] donnie darko belonging

Belonging is a perception shaped within personal, social, cultural and historical context. While to most the concept only includes acceptance and harmony, there can be two sides to belonging, and Donnie Darko explores this idea through its characters and their context in the film. Donnie Darko is set against the backdrop of the 1988 Bush vs. Dukakis Presidential election; it represents 1980’s conservative America through the last 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds of Donnie Darko’s life. There is a strong theme of insecurity and isolation and many of the characters don’t belong throughout the film.

These themes are represented by Kelly using a range of film techniques. The use of iconic references, such as fashion, news and music (INXS, Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, The Church) are used in the film to create a sense of conflict between warm nostalgia and a biting reminder of America’s cultural philosophy at the time, promoting greed and social responsibility. The seemingly cosy world of leaf blowers, power walkers and double sided fridges of suburbia hides a quiet malice underneath, and in the middle of all this is Donnie Darko.

Social context can affect the sense of belonging, and Donnie’s society is far from desirable. His connection to it is tenuous at best; therefore he is shunned and feels he does not belong. The Scene “Head over Heels” introduces us to his world. As Donnie arrives at school, non diegetic sound, (“Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears) sets the mood for the upside down world. Without a word of scripted dialogue, this scene tells a lot about what’s happening around the school, taking us through hallways and classrooms, past pupils and teachers going about normal school life.

The scene begins with an odd angle shot of the back of the school bus as Donnie and his friends exit (rebelling by going through the back door), Donnie walks slightly apart from everyone, even his friends, hinting at Donnie’s displacement from society and adding to the overall tone of the movie. This flows into a tracking shot that serves to briefly introduce all the key characters. Donnie’s relationship with these characters is crucial to the movie and affects his sense of belonging, whether positive or negative, throughout.

Society’s ignorance is represented in a shot where the camera passes the school bully, snorting drugs barely half a metre away from the oblivious principle Cole. A shot of the schools mascot, a giant bull dog. The dog is mostly seen as a symbol of fidelity, but also follows blindly, indicative of the schools unquestioning faith in society. As a student, Donnie spends much of his time at school, so it has a significant effect on his negative sense of belonging. We see clearly the sense of alienation Donnie feels from this world in the scene “Cunning Visions”. Ms Farmer, Donnie’s P.

E teacher, idolises self help guru Jim Cunningham and adheres zealously to a narrow minded system of beliefs structured around a linear “Life Line” system, and works it into the curriculum. “As you can see, the Life Line is divided into two polar extremes. Fear and love. Fear is in the negative energy spectrum. And love is in the positive energy spectrum. ” The “Cunning Visions” infomercial that accompanies this satirizes other self help programs, the close-ups of the overly tanned and charismatic Jim Cunningham combined with the stiff, scripted testimony of freed “victims of fear”.

The program serves as a metaphor for Donnie’s context. The film’s recurring clash between the moral tunnel vision of the “Life Line” and those who seek to challenge its authority is the main cause of Donnie’s troubles. When asked to contribute to the “discussion” of fear and love, he argues, “You can’t just lump things into two categories, things aren’t that simple” insisting on the complexity of life. Unable to see any sense in these restrictive parameters, he feels out of place in an equally restrictive society.

Other characters experience this frustration in the movie; Mrs Pomeroy, a “cool” teacher whose methods are somewhat unorthodox; is fired for her originality. Like Donnie, she sees the bigger picture of society. “We are losing them to apathy. ” She explains to the indifferent Principal Cole. “I am sorry that you have failed. ” He replies, after an unsatisfactory explanation for her dismissal. During the scene, Mrs Pomeroy is seated lower than Principal Cole, making him seem more powerful and while Mrs Pomeroy’s body language is open and truthful, Principal Cole’s is cagey and exasperated, blocked off and protected by his desk.

The audience and Mrs Pomeroy know who is right, but are powerless to change anything, creating a feeling of isolation. A sense of irony is created as the most honest people in the film are labelled as mentally unstable (Donnie is diagnosed with schizophrenia) or, in Ms Pomeroy’s case, unsuitable figures of authority, whereas characters such as Jim Cunningham, while famous and respected are revealed as false (Donnie burns down Jim’s house to expose a “kiddie porn dungeon”). While outcasts of society, they all are connected by their position, which could be seen as either a blessing or curse.

To be happily oblivious to the shortcomings of society might be wistfully contemplated, however, given the choice, I don’t think the characters would choose it. Watching this movie, I felt I could relate to them, as I think everyone does, having experienced life so far. It’s confusing and frustrating sometimes. I’m sure everyone has times where they feel like an alien from the planet Zog. The need to belong is part of human nature, but destroying your individuality just to fit in would be worse than being an outsider for me.

The realisation that others feel just as lost at times keeps me from going insane, so as long as I have my friends and my family and familiar things around me I think I could feel I belong anywhere. In conclusion, “Donnie Darko” portrays a society where, sometimes, to fit in with the mainstream is to lose your identity, but to make your own path is to have a chance at freedom and a more personal sense of belonging through your experiences and the people who share them. Song – Where I Belong Bryan Adams 2002 In contrast to Donnie Darko, “This Is Where I Belong” by Bryan Adams clearly illustrates the concept of belonging as a positive thing.

The idea that a sense of belonging can emerge from connections to people, places, communities and the larger world is represented in the lyrics and music. The song begins with a strong, purposeful tone and tempo, linking to the emotive and descriptive language such as “strong” and “paradise”. This creates powerful images of the singer’s “home” and his positive attitude toward it. The word “home”, although also meaning the place someone lives, has a stronger meaning, and is often interpreted as the place we have the strongest sense of belonging to rather than the physical structure itself.

We can see the singer’s passion and pride in having somewhere to belong. Rhyme is included, “I hear the wind across the plain/ A sound so strong/ That calls my name”, creating a sense of harmony and allowing the song to flow even if the tempo changes. The tempo and vocals soften in the second verse, creating a tender quality which shows how much the singer cares about his home and its important connection to his sense of belonging. A metaphor is created using the personification of the wind as a “pull” towards this home and the feeling of belonging.

Simile is used to further enhance the imagery. It is strongly connected to nature; descriptions such as “wild like the river” and “warm like the sun” both contrast and reflect the many facets of belonging, metaphorically representing historical, personal and cultural influences and a sense of place. Like perceptions of belonging, nature also changes, sometimes rapidly like an avalanche, or like erosion, slowly over time. The soft, husky vocals and the gentle chorus combined also represent this dual nature. “The moon on the mountains/ The whisper through the trees/ The waves on the water“.

The soft chorus that sings this section serves to both add to the calm mood and represent the wider community, such as friends and family, that affects the singer’s sense of belonging. Simple piano and guitar create a calm mood and allow the audience to focus on the meaning in the lyrics. The tempo is medium, but slows in places for a different effect. “When we’re all together, there’s nothing to fear” show the social influence in belonging, that relationships play an important part. “’Cos everything I want/ Is everything that’s here” links to belonging’s connection to objects of value.

The eagle is known as a symbol of freedom and community, so the lines “under the starry skies/ Where eagles have flown” hints at historical links to belonging, as a connection to ancestors can provide a personal tie to a place. The repetition of “always” at the end of the last verse shows the determination and strength he gains from having somewhere he belongs. While Donnie Darko appealed to me because of its exploration of isolation from society and its negative effect on perceptions of belonging, I also found this song has strong relevance to my idea of belonging.

I can relate to the love of nature expressed in the song. I think it can bring feelings that we can’t experience in civilisation, and strong associations can be made with certain geological formations, eg. A beach or mountains – all mountains and beaches have something in common, so even if you’d never been there before you might feel a sense of belonging to a place in another country. I think the description of a “call” in the wind creates a metaphor that describes the need to belong perfectly. Air symbolises transient and insubstantial ideas and emotions and creates a universal representation of the need to fit in.

The social ties I talked about before are represented here also “And wherever I wander – the one thing I’ve learned/ It’s to here/ I will always, always… return” shows that belonging can give a sense of purpose even when you’re away from your links to belonging. E. g. – While on vacation or in an uncomfortable situation, it helps if you have friends and family to connect with. I find my association to my belongings important, so I can connect with the song on a personal level as well, which is another aspect of belonging.

In conclusion, I think that this song powerfully represents the positive aspects of belonging through connections to people, places, communities and the larger world, and the importance of context. I think that music is an effective medium to convey belonging through because of its social aspect. Music has the ability to use instruments to create mood and feeling; its use of metaphors to express normally intangible ideas makes it accessible to everyone and highly valuable in our search for belonging.

I hear the wind across the plain
A sound so strong
That calls my name
It’s wild like the river, it’s warm like the sun
Yes it’s here – this is where I belong

Under the starry skies
Where eagles have flown
This place is paradise, it’s the place I call home
The moon on the mountains
The whisper through the trees
The waves on the water
Let nothing come between this and me

’Cos everything I want
Is everything that’s here
And when we’re all together, there’s nothing to fear
And wherever I wander – the one thing I’ve learned
It’s to here
I will always, always… return

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