“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”
Groundhog day is one of my favorite holidays. So I’m re-blogging my post from a couple of years ago:
….I thought I’d weigh in on this most illustrious of holidays. The reason I love Groundhog Day so much is because of the movie. It is possibly the cutest, most entertaining, most hilarious film of all time. And if you watch it as much as I do (it’s an annual event here at the Gorman house) then you can see there is a potent spiritual message underneath all of the hilarity. Which is the best kind of potent spiritual message.
You’ll get the message, if like me, after about five years of annual viewings, you find yourself suddenly wondering, “Wait a second. How long is Phil actually in suspension?”
First Phil works the angles. He gets fresh with Rita endlessly and gets slapped as much. He launches into each day with bacchanalian lust. Eventually he becomes suicidal.
Then it shifts, and we see him learning things to “pass the time”, like ice sculpture. He learns to play the piano, and speak French. But in doing all of those things, he starts to get to know the people of Punxsutawney.
He saves the same kid falling out of the same tree at the same time, every day….how long did it take to get the timing just exactly right? No small feat.
“You little brat, you never thank me!”
And in the tenderest moments of the film, he tries to save a man’s life, over and over again, in every way possible.
How long? It takes this long: Phil relives the same day over and over and over again until he believes time has truly stood still and is never, ever going to move forward, no matter what.
We’re only watching that experience for the length of the movie. But he lives it for what, years? Decades?
When I did a little research on the film I found this passage on IMDB: “Though the film does not specify the number of repetitions, there is enough time for Connors to learn many complex skills, such as how to play jazz piano, speak French, sculpt ice, and memorize the life story of almost everyone in town. He also masters the art of flipping playing cards into an upturned hat, which he offhandedly suggests takes six months.
(According to author Rubin, his intent in the original script was for the time-frame of the number of times of Connors to be repeating the same day to be ambiguous, but longer than a single lifetime. The studio objected to this, asking that it be reduced to two weeks. Director Ramis tried to leave the time-frame loop ambiguous at how many times Connors re-lives February 2, but it is strongly speculated by Connors (and the viewers) to be at least 10 years.)”
Ten years. At least! But the intention of the writer was for it to be an entire lifetime, or more! Of living the same day, over and over, with finally, only one thing under Phil’s control, only one choice to make.
He can add to life rather than take from it. That’s it. He can bring happiness to life, or he can wallow in self-destruction when circumstances fail to provide satisfaction. (that particular montage usually has me on the floor. Ego-death, always a knee-slapper).
“I’ve killed myself so many times I don’t exist anymore”.