This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.
Before getting to our post, this important breaking news:
Punxsutawney Phil the weathercasting groundhog saw his shadow this morning, and so predicts that there will be six more weeks of winter.
I love, love, love the movie Groundhog Day — and, frankly, until Rushmore, I didn't really like Bill Murray films that much. But this rather unassuming romance is, in my opinion, the perfect comedy: accessible but deep. I must have watched it at least 50 times, and I get something new out of it with each viewing.
Ironically, film guru Roger Ebert didn't get the depth the first time he reviewed the film, in 1993, and had to correct the record in 2005.
“Groundhog Day” is a film that finds its note and purpose so precisely that its genius may not be immediately noticeable. It unfolds so inevitably, is so entertaining, so apparently effortless, that you have to stand back and slap yourself before you see how good it really is.
Certainly I underrated it in my original review; I enjoyed it so easily that I was seduced into cheerful moderation. But there are a few films, and this is one of them, that burrow into our memories and become reference points. When you find yourself needing the phrase This is like “Groundhog Day” to explain how you feel, a movie has accomplished something.
Like anyone with an obsessive love, I enjoy reading about how others perceive the film, and outside of classics by Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton, I dare to say that Groundhog Day is the most analyzed Hollywood comedy ever produced, having inspired essays and creative responses not just by academics (in disciplines from philosophy to science to social work) and movie buffs, but by theologians and religious writers(from a wide range of faiths), psychologists, social activists, poets and artists. I'm telling you, it is a bottomless pit of wonder, delight and meditation for intellectuals and/or spiritual seekers everywhere — like a celluloid koan.
Not long ago, I bought the Special Edition DVD, which included the making-of documentary cleverly called The Weight of Time, but now the 15th Anniversary Edition is out with even more goodies and enhancements.
Now, if you have not seen Groundhog Day, get thee to a video store before another moment of your life passes! And really, the film has so permeated our culture, that you have to see it to be considered literate.
Here's Bill Murray, in the early stages of self-awareness:
Time is a major factor in the film, and Erik L. Ellis has a list of all the days that are explicitly shown in the film, which total 35. But obviously, there are many more that are just implied.
But how many days? Or, to make counting easier, how many years of groundhog days did Phil Connors go through before finally waking to find it was Feb. 3?
I never gave this question thought until I listened to the director's commentary on the DVD. But I was probably assuming a couple of years. If I'd given some thought, I hopefully could have done better with my guess.
But others have given the question more attention. Some say that the piano lessons are a clue: to acquire the level of proficiency that Phil Connors shows at the end of the film would take over 10 years. It turns out that the screenwriter was originally thinking more along the lines of thousands of years — but of course, before Hollywood got a hold of it, the script was much darker. Think about that when you watch the movie for the xth time, your head will really spin!
If you are a fan of the film and its themes, then you may enjoy reading the following:
- Wikipedia entry (includes links to screenwriter's website, the full script, both the original and revisionist reviews by Roger Ebert, etc.)
- Quotes from Groundhog Day
- Media analyst Ken Sanes most excellent reflection on Groundhog Day, “Breakthrough to the True Self” (the navigation is a little wonky, so don't miss his second page on “The Symbolism and Significance of Groundhog Day”).
- Buddhist reaction and many links to other articles
If you know of other interesting sites about or resources on Groundhog Day, please leave in a comment.
Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day!
Happy Groundhog Day!
Happy Groundhog Day!