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Donnie Darko the film features a recurring scene consisting of fast-cut composition of various overlaying elements atop a large pupil. One of these elements appears to be a stack trace/core dump for some kernel.

Upon taking a closer look (by pausing the movie) I discovered the following frame:

Image: Donnie Dark Movie Frame

The image doesn't show very clearly but the most important text is copied below:

Kernel version:
Latwin Kernel Version 6.1:
Fri Sep 6 23:09:31 PDT 2002; root:xnu/xnu-344.2.obj-1/RELEASE_PPC

Aside from the obscure "Latwin" kernel which I can't find any info on (looks like an Apple based system though), the date Fri Sep 6 23:09:31 PDT 2002 is of higher relevance here.

To my knowledge the movie was produced in 2001 and the frame itself was taken from a director's cut (which should be even older than the final cut?). Edit: Turns out the director's cut was released in 2004. But it does seem strange to have added scenes post-final cut that were produced between the actual release (2001) and the director's cut (2004). Does the kernel dump appear in the original theatrical release?

Is the year 2002 here meant to be some reference to the future? Though, in contrast to the 1988 setting, it does seem quite irrelevant. Or am I over-thinking it and the computer that produced that kernel dump just had a date/time setting off by 1 year?

P.S: Information on the particular "Latwin" kernel would be nice too.

  • The director's cut came out in 2004, if you're curious. – Catija May 28 '15 at 21:25
  • @Catija Does that mean the kernel dump is an added scene in 2002? Seems strange to call it a director's cut but have scenes added (especially at some intermediate time like 2002). Also, do you know if the original release featured the kernel dumps? – initramfs May 28 '15 at 21:29
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    "But it does seem strange to have added scenes post-final cut..." - unless you're George Lucas, then it's par for the course HA HA. – Catija May 28 '15 at 21:41
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    Sounds like a great idea! If you find anything out, feel free to come and answer the question! We may have others here that have some insight, too. It's an interesting question... though probably more so to people who've seen it. – Catija May 28 '15 at 21:45
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    Congratulations, this question is the winner of the corresponding topic challenge. – Napoleon Wilson Jun 7 '15 at 12:04
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OK, here's what I could find out:

I'm going to say that this is specific to the Director's cut of the film.

Here's why...

This site goes second by second describing the changes between the original and Director's cut (DC).

Search for "8:53 min. - 9:21 min."

Here they introduce that the eye is completely added to the DC:

After the dawn of the new day (2.10.1988) via text insert the DC features a long sequence of blackscreen with threatening sound-effects, until eventually Frank's ghost-voice announces: "Wake up!" After that, we see a closeup of an eye with an expanding pupil. Then, for a millisecond, Franks rabbit-head is cut in (like in Fight Club). The transition shot of the Darkos' house is much longer in the DC, too.

From now on, the eye always symbolizes the tasks and abilities which he gets "implanted" by Frank.

Now, search for : "113:38 min. - 113:45 min."

This shows a nearly identical image to your screen capture and states that there are 7 extra seconds:

The eye again. This time accompanied by a countdown from the off.

So, now we know that the eye was completely added to the director's cut of the film...

Does the content mean anything?

So, what does the content mean, if anything?

Well, turns out it doesn't really mean anything... Here's the actual content of a similar error with the same Kernel identifier:

Kernel version:
Darwin Kernel Version 6.1:
Fri Sep 6 23:09:31 PDT 2002; root:xnu/xnu-344.2.obj~1/RELEASE_PPC

The 2002 date refers to the build date that that particular version of the kernel was built, which is identical to the build date mentioned in the linked Apple forum discussion.

It seems that someone found this Mac OS 10.3.x error text and decided to use it for the graphics. They did make the (probably smart) choice to change "Darwin" to "Latwin" to avoid clashing with Apple's litigation team. So the content and date mentioned have nothing to do with the film (assuming the director didn't actually create time travel).

This was also discussed briefly on this Reddit thread.

  • Yep, this seems to be correct. I've compared the DC to the theatrical release and found the original to completely lack any of these "eye scenes", confirming that the date likely doesn't have any relevance. A big headslap for me for not realizing that Latwin was likely made up (I've literally seen identical Darwin dumps but assumed Latwin was some older, different version). And finally, kudos to you for being able to find all this information (especially that reddit thread) without even watching the movie (though you really should, it's highly recommended). – initramfs May 29 '15 at 0:16
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    @CPUTerminator My husband gets the credit. He's a programmer and I've enlisted his help on this one... He's also seen the film and hadn't realized that I haven't. :D – Catija May 29 '15 at 0:18
  • Just one really tiny pedantic thing though, when you say "here is the actual error" the error there isn't exactly the same as the one in the movie (tell-tale is the different CPU that raised the error, CPU 0 in the movie and CPU 1 in the linked article). This is more of a FYI, and I'm not suggesting you do anything about it. – initramfs May 29 '15 at 0:23
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    @CPUTerminator Sorry! I can't actually read the rest of the text other than what you transcribed because it's so tiny! :D – Catija May 29 '15 at 0:30
  • It's a pity they didn't change the date as well, since the movie is supposed to occur in the 80s. – Kyle Strand Jun 17 '15 at 14:38

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