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Reliving Groundhog Day
February 27, 2013 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Reliving Groundhog Day: On the 20th anniversary of the beloved Bill Murray comedy, it’s time to recognize it as a profound work of contemporary metaphysics.
posted by shivohum (117 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
The movie seems to have come along at just the right moment for that particular writer, and I'm genuinely glad; it's probably had that effect on any number of people. But this might still need the "plateofbeans" tag; when he starts waxing rhapsodic over Bill Murray, we get:
his long loafer’s body, surprisingly strong in the calves and forearms—somewhere behind his navel is the hidden fulcrum of the universe.
With all the Murray love on the blue, I don't think that anyone's ever regarded his lower extremities.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:11 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


the whole world at that time fit snugly inside my private cosmos of terribleness

-_-
posted by adamdschneider at 11:15 AM on February 27, 2013


I once heard a Philosophy paper on Groundhog Day as it applied to Nietzsche's idea of Eternal Recurrence. It was fairly convincing.

I always thought there was a followup paper to be written on Multiplicity*, given the Harold Ramis link.

*I am not the person to write said paper.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:19 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


You know, I never saw Groundhog Day.

Or, DID I?!?

(dramatic hamster)
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:20 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


20 years have passed? It seems like just yesterday.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:25 AM on February 27, 2013 [29 favorites]


(dramatic hamster)

Oh for chrissakes that's not a hamster that's a prairie dog, you'd think maybe just maybe in a thread about GROUNDHOG Day you'd get the damn rodent right. No respect. Ugh.
posted by phunniemee at 11:26 AM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was at university and the film club had two Groundhog Day showings. I must have heard good things, or was bored - either way I naturally went to the early showing - the bus ride back to my digs took over an hour and it'd be late enough when I got back as it was.

When it was over, I found that the second showing would start in half an hour, so I bought another ticket and hung around and watched it again. That is the only time in my life that I've actually seen the same film twice in the cinema.

Great film, but I really really didn't need to be reminded that it was twenty years ago. Thanks, shivohum.
posted by YAMWAK at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2013


I've seen Groundhog Day mentioned a few times in discussions about movies with Buddhist ideals. I think it's one of those accidentally profound movies that comes once a decade or so. In my top ten.
posted by zardoz at 11:29 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]




Everyone dressed like David Letterman back then.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always thought there was a followup paper to be written on Multiplicity

Oh, man, for a second I was confused and thought you meant Virtuosity.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:31 AM on February 27, 2013


stupidsexyFlanders' link makes some bad assumptions, e.g. that he did not work on playing cards and electrocute himself on the same day. I like the discussion though.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2013


The beanplating is a bit much for me, but I totally agree with this:
[T]he two discussed the possibility of an external cause for Phil’s predicament—a magical clockmaker, maybe, or a gypsy’s curse. In the end, however, they thought it best to leave the recurrence of Groundhog Day unexplained. This was a profound creative decision.
And a great decision. I don't think I've ever actually noticed the lack of an external explanation; "because Phil's a shallow jaundiced shit that needs to become better" has always seemed like reason enough.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's so funny how some movies get totally meh reviews when they come out but are later considered classics. I don't think it did well at the box office, and a lot of reviewers were like what the heck is this?! Ebert gave it three stars; it's now on his list of Great Movies.
posted by Melismata at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013


A friend of mine once threw out the line that in the Groundhog's Day world, killing yourself is the best way to go to sleep at the end of each day. I'm not doing it justice here, but it was brilliant.
posted by neuromodulator at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013


Double?
posted by mazola at 11:35 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


So put your little hand in mine …
posted by gubo at 11:37 AM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


He wants her, he tries to seduce her—first with meanness, then by fraud, then with recitations of French poetry and engineered perfect moments. It is only when he gives up, when he accepts the blessing of her company, free from desire—at which point she, too, magically becomes a far more interesting character—that she is delivered into his arms.

That's really not how it plays, though. He does give up his striving, in a way, but only after long and determined efforts. Everything he does in the "perfect" day that lets him get past whatever cosmic hurdle to re-enter normal time was the result of all the previous attempts, not necessarily in spite of them.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:38 AM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just How Many Days Does Bill Murray REALLY Spend Stuck Reliving Groundhog Day?

The article touched on that and how it just doesn't really matter. I think that's true. I saw this article last week or the week before, whenever the March Atlantic came out and when I saw it I was like: "how did they get metafilter in here!?" It's actually a decent article though, even if I thought of you guys when I read it . . .
posted by IvoShandor at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013


Stephen Tobowlosky ("Ned? Ned Ryerson?") talks a lot about how Groundhog Day ended up the way it did. He's a very interesting, insightful guy. You can find his discussion here (45min mp3).
posted by benito.strauss at 11:45 AM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]




I don't think I've ever actually noticed the lack of an external explanation; "because Phil's a shallow jaundiced shit that needs to become better" has always seemed like reason enough.

So how come I manage to wake up to a different day each day?

(It's a bit interesting to contemplate what the time loop might be like if it required the opposite--the Murray become the most vile, inhuman monster he could to break out of the loop.)
posted by maxwelton at 11:57 AM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


life imitating art, funny how one small movie (that almost didn't get made) can lead to a real life celebration in a real life town

Wow. Kudos to Ken M.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:00 PM on February 27, 2013


That's really not how it plays, though. He does give up his striving, in a way, but only after long and determined efforts. Everything he does in the "perfect" day that lets him get past whatever cosmic hurdle to re-enter normal time was the result of all the previous attempts, not necessarily in spite of them.

OK, but in Buddhist philosophy, with reincarnations and all, doesn't that fit in perfectly? I may be wrong on the specifics, but you can't try to achieve enlightenment?
posted by LionIndex at 12:04 PM on February 27, 2013


Everything he does in the "perfect" day that lets him get past whatever cosmic hurdle to re-enter normal time was the result of all the previous attempts, not necessarily in spite of them.

That's one reading. But I think it's also possible to read it as him now knowing what she likes because he just likes her. It doesn't matter that he came by that knowledge because of an initially-evil plan. Now he knows French and knows she likes French, so he just uses some when it would be appropriate and she likes that. In way, Groundhog Day is about intent being different from what you actually do.
posted by DU at 12:04 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just How Many Days Does Bill Murray REALLY Spend Stuck Reliving Groundhog Day?

The article touched on that and how it just doesn't really matter. I think that's true.


I think it's important. The first time it was pointed out to me that Bill Murray almost certainly spent hundreds of years trapped in that day, I thought it was horrifying. I don't think the movie explicitly shows just how terrible life would have been. We never get to see Murray repeat the exact same day -- he always does something new and interesting with each reprisal -- so the audience doesn't experience the same boredom. Murray always communicates a kind of hangdog boredom when things are good or when things are bad, so you never really see the effects of the loop on him, and the awfulness is mitigated. It's only through a few throwaway lines that we get the sense that he's in hell.

This isn't a knock on the movie, necessarily... it's probably a better movie because you are not shown, and have to infer, that he's spent centuries in the loop. I think the romantic comedy aspect would have almost certainly been destroyed if they had pushed the horror of the movie further than they did. The pursuit of love would have seemed entirely trivial.
posted by painquale at 12:05 PM on February 27, 2013


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again. Daybreak couldn't sustain the premise week-to-week, despite an interesting start; can't think of any others?
posted by MoxieProxy at 12:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


During a dark period in my early twenties, I endeavored to watch Groundhog Day every single night for a month, at the exact same time, sitting in my bedroom.

I think I remember it being an awesome experience, but I could be wrong.
posted by broadway bill at 12:10 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does playing piano at a virtuoso level entail any physical changes that Bill Murray would lose at the end of each day?

Obviously his brain retains all the knowledge he acquired that day. Equally obviously (from his disgusting diet and the fact that he, oh, dies a couple of times) his body goes back to the way it was.

Would he actually be able to get really good at piano or does part of the process involve changes to muscles (leaner and faster?) or some other physical change that is forbidden by the GHD universe? I'm assuming, for example, that he couldn't get really great at guitar, because his fingers would never get tough enough. Likewise, he couldn't use Groundhog Day to train for a marathon, because his endurance would never increase.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:11 PM on February 27, 2013


Moxie, there was one X-Files episode that used that trope.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is interesting to imagine oneself in the situation.

I know that gathering skills and knowledge and even wisdom to my bosom would eventually grow old, but I might take my time about it if exiting the loop required enduring Rita. Rita is such an awful person, she makes Phil look like a saint. Phil is a self-important climber who thinks he's too good for the gig, feeling like he has yet another year in this pointless rut, but at least he knows it. What kind of condescending twerp quotes Scott at people? She's not even accurate, as the nationalistic poem is about those who lack pride in their homelands, while she's attempting to call him on his gluttony. Not only inaccurate, but somewhat dumb, as Phil just wants to go home. Always drinking to world peace? Unbearable. Her Cosmo list of what makes her ideal man, which she drops without hesitation, suggests a level of entitlement to which Phil wouldn't even aspire. She hates fudge.

And that's how I like to think of the film: after a brief (a few years) infatuation with the one unobtainable woman in town, he discovers just how disagreeable Rita is; it takes ten millennia for Phil to swallow his distaste enough to fake a carefree demeanor throughout the one evening necessary for his freedom. Rita makes me shudder and remember, "it's cold out there every day."
posted by adipocere at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


painquale is absolutely correct, the movie softshoes the horror in favor of the romantic comedy. Wouldn't it be interesting to see a remake from the opposite perspective? The struggle against insanity as every pleasure is wiped away with the dawn, and nothing is enduring but the yawning infinity? I would see that movie and I demand that Philip Seymour Hoffman play the lead.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:18 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


There was another 20th anniversary article about Groundhog Day in the UKs Guardian newspaper a couple of weeks ago. Other writers, apparently, look at it jealously because it got the perfect blend of clever, understated and entertaining.
posted by rongorongo at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Groundhog Day and think it's an amazingly well-written and well-crafted film. That said, I'm not convinced of its central premise, or at least what seems to be its central premise. First, a question: why Phil? As We had a deal, Kyle put it earlier, the unstated assumption of the film seems to be something like: this is happening "because Phil's a shallow jaundiced shit that needs to become better."? But, really? Two problems I have with that. Why Phil, out of all people in the world, and why become better? For what purpose does that serve? To make him happier? Again, why? Isn't that a uniquely selfish and self-absorbed way of viewing the situation -- that the gods have "cursed" Phil with the ability to perfect himself -- "We shall punish you by making you awesome"?

Why Phil is chosen is never understood. Was it an accident? Was it supposed to be someone else? Is it a curse or a blessing? Ultimately, though, I'm fine with not knowing that. Phil doesn't know, so neither should we. Instead, my big issue with the central conceit of the film is that I'm not convinced that, in the parlance of our day, the long arc of history bends toward justice -- or at least, not within one man who exists outside of the effects of time. We are supposed to believe that a man who suffers absolutely no consequences for his actions will, in time, become a caring and thoughtful human whose sole goal is to perpetually make others happy -- but of course, only make them happy for a few hours, until they wake up again and forget both his beneficence and their own happiness. I'm not entirely unconvinced by this argument but I'm not entirely convinced, either. I'm more partial to the theories that peg the "length" of Groundhog Day into the many decades. That it was only after years of trying to fly to exotic locations, crime sprees, acts of terrorism, severe depression, that he came to understand that his happiness was dependent on the ephemeral happiness of others. And that, yes, it was entirely his own selfish action that led him to that place. That he simply stopped caring how others felt and began to care only for himself. It simply took him decades to determine that the only happiness that was sustaining within himself was sharing in the fleeting happiness of others. So he sought to farm that happiness, to cultivate it daily.

But then again, what hell is that? To live so desperately and so weakly. To be so reliant on the interactions of others. Is this truly what it's like to be God? To thirst for the affection of others, for no reason other than boredom?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:19 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does playing piano at a virtuoso level entail any physical changes that Bill Murray would lose at the end of each day?

This is the thing I've worried/wondered about for, well, the 20 years since Groundhog Day came out. I think that part of what comes with physical expertise is in the muscles. Almost as if they had a sub-brain all to themselves. Martial arts experts talk about how, in threatening situations, there are times where their muscles react seemingly before their brains can process. This is the result of thousands of hours of practice.

But it's clear that nothing about Phil's body carries over. He exists almost entirely as a spirit, a soul, a consciousness. While he may be able to play the piano in his head, his fingers should not get any leaner or more dextrous on their own.

Which leads to another kind of horror: if the physical state of Phil's body is repeated every day, he is subject to the slings and arrows of that day as well. What if he were hung over? Had a cold? Was just getting over a twisted ankle? Of course, there's the flip side: Phil could answer whether eating Ben & Jerry's for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever got boring. (It doesn't.)
posted by aureliobuendia at 12:23 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

In addition to the X-Files episode Empress mentions above, there was also a Fringe episode which does a similar thing. It's important for the overall Fringe story though, so keep that in mind if you decide to watch it.
posted by gauche at 12:25 PM on February 27, 2013


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

Captain Morgan Bateson of the USS Bozeman would like to have a word.
posted by aureliobuendia at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Does playing piano at a virtuoso level entail any physical changes that Bill Murray would lose at the end of each day?

Obviously his brain retains all the knowledge he acquired that day. Equally obviously (from his disgusting diet and the fact that he, oh, dies a couple of times) his body goes back to the way it was.

Would he actually be able to get really good at piano or does part of the process involve changes to muscles (leaner and faster?) or some other physical change that is forbidden by the GHD universe? I'm assuming, for example, that he couldn't get really great at guitar, because his fingers would never get tough enough. Likewise, he couldn't use Groundhog Day to train for a marathon, because his endurance would never increase.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:11 AM on February 27 [+] [!]


I went off to the UK for two years back in my twenties and didn't play any cello at all. When I came back I could still play fine, though my fingers were a bit weaker. So no, I don't think that would be a major problem.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:33 PM on February 27, 2013


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

Episodes of this trope have appeared in many sci-fi TV shows, including: Angel, Buffy, Futurama, Red Dwarf, Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise, The Twilight Zone, and Xena.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the piano question: Suppose someone had a physical condition that prevented their otherwise normal fingers from ever changing their musculature through piano practice. Could that person ever learn to play piano as well as Phil on his last Groundhog Day? To me it seems like the answer is yes, especially if they had a lot of time to work on it, as Phil of course does.
posted by gubo at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2013


One thing I noticed for the first time recently: the other people in Phil's day do seem to retain some kind of independent existence. Most of the time the day ends for us as soon as it ends for Phil, but there's at least one case where we see it continuing on without him--when Rita and Larry are identifying his body in the morgue.

So what happens to those versions of Rita and Larry at the end of that day? Do they just stop existing entirely? Or maybe there's only one version of them, and there isn't any parallel-universe branching going on at all--everybody is repeating Groundhog Day over and over, it's just that Phil's the only one who's aware of it.
posted by equalpants at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

Unsurprisingly, the relevant TV Trope is Groundhog Day Loop.
posted by zamboni at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

Source Code is quite good.
posted by oulipian at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2013


I think that part of what comes with physical expertise is in the muscles. Almost as if they had a sub-brain all to themselves. Martial arts experts talk about how, in threatening situations, there are times where their muscles react seemingly before their brains can process. This is the result of thousands of hours of practice.

Their reactions are still the result of events in the brain, even if it doesn't feel like it to them, though. Your muscles may make the execution of a task that you know how to do easier by virtue of their flexibility, strength or endurance, but that knowledge isn't "stored" in the muscle in any meaningful sense. The problem of your skills being mismatched with your physical state doesn't really seem to apply to piano playing, anyway. A skilled piano player almost always is using less energy than a novice to accomplish the same thing, meaning that a greater strength on the part of the expert couldn't account for the difference in their ability. Flexibility could come into play in terms of Bill Murray's ability to, say, grab a tenth or not, but that's not going to alter his sound in the vast majority of cases.
posted by invitapriore at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie but haven't seen it in years, which means I can't remember if it ever explores the question of what would happen if Larry just stayed awake until the next morning. Does he get knocked unconscious by something falling out of the sky if he tries?

Also, this is an example of a comedy plot which would also work well in a horror film. See also: body-switch movies.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2013


This isn't a knock on the movie, necessarily... it's probably a better movie because you are not shown, and have to infer, that he's spent centuries in the loop. I think the romantic comedy aspect would have almost certainly been destroyed if they had pushed the horror of the movie further than they did. The pursuit of love would have seemed entirely trivial.

The problem with pushing the horror aspect of it is that ultimately, Groundhog Day is a story about man learning acceptance - it's a visceral illustration of the five stages of grief. Phil goes through denial and anger quickly (initial "this is weird" and attempts to leave Punxatawney), moves on for a while into bargaining (trying to exploit it for his own fun), then gradually slides into depression (suicide attempts, which are when you get down to it also a form of barganing), and comes to acceptance when he realizes that his individual torture is not so great as compared to the world around him.

Horror and acceptance are expressly at odds with one another. You can't be terrified of what you truly accept. Is Phil's situation horrifying? Yes, it is utterly horrifying. But all horror eventually fades, as Phil's fades, and I think the film addresses this balance perfectly, because everybody I know who has seen Groundhog Day - i.e. everybody ever - recognizes that such an existence would be hell. They don't need it knocked into their heads, because it's really quite obvious, and the movie is smart enough to avoid laying that on with a trowel.
posted by mightygodking at 12:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think the movie explicitly shows just how terrible life would have been.

I recall hearing or reading somewhere of a planned scene for the movie, which depicts Murray going to the town library and reading one page from a book each day. The scene would finish with Murray reading the last page of the last book and crying.

Maybe its not true, maybe its just something somebody said they thought should be in the movie, but I kinda wish it had been; but then the movie becomes somewhat soul-crushing as well, instead of the fun experience we all remember.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:46 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comments on that Guardian article are hilarious.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2013


The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again.

...and again, and again, and again...
posted by goethean at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2013


The most interesting part of Groundhog Day is a throwaway scene after Murray's character drives the stolen pickup truck (with Phil) off the cliff in the open-pit mine: we're shown his coworkers from the TV station identifying his body.

This is a fascinating scene because it's the only indication we're given in the movie that time passes independently of whether Murray's character is there to experience it or not. In all the other instances where he kills himself, the universe just appears to reboot — cue alarm clock: it's 6AM and it's cold outside! But the one post-truck-crash scene tells us that this really isn't the case: at least for several hours afterwards (until the 6AM bewitching hour when the day restarts) time continues to pass even after Murray's character dies, and his friends and colleagues and the rest of the town are left to deal with the consequences of his actions. Or, put differently, this is all not just going on in his head.

I've always wondered about that scene and what the directorial intent was, because it's the only time in the movie when we are given knowledge of Murray's character's condition that the character himself doesn't have. Since he's dead, he can't know that time continues to pass; he presumably just wakes up the next morning none the wiser. But we in the audience know that life goes on for everyone else, at least until midnight each night, making his repeated suicides a bit more horrifying than the instant outs that they appear to him to be.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:48 PM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


Why Phil is chosen is never understood. Was it an accident? Was it supposed to be someone else? Is it a curse or a blessing? Ultimately, though, I'm fine with not knowing that. Phil doesn't know, so neither should we. Instead, my big issue with the central conceit of the film is that I'm not convinced that, in the parlance of our day, the long arc of history bends toward justice -- or at least, not within one man who exists outside of the effects of time. We are supposed to believe that a man who suffers absolutely no consequences for his actions will, in time, become a caring and thoughtful human whose sole goal is to perpetually make others happy -- but of course, only make them happy for a few hours, until they wake up again and forget both his beneficence and their own happiness. I'm not entirely unconvinced by this argument but I'm not entirely convinced, either. I'm more partial to the theories that peg the "length" of Groundhog Day into the many decades. That it was only after years of trying to fly to exotic locations, crime sprees, acts of terrorism, severe depression, that he came to understand that his happiness was dependent on the ephemeral happiness of others. And that, yes, it was entirely his own selfish action that led him to that place. That he simply stopped caring how others felt and began to care only for himself. It simply took him decades to determine that the only happiness that was sustaining within himself was sharing in the fleeting happiness of others. So he sought to farm that happiness, to cultivate it daily.

What I don't understand is that you've elegantly expressed the premise of film you purport not to understand. The enigma of the why (why phil, why the repetition of a day) makes for a stronger and more elegant film. Any explanation would undermine the spare concept. There is nothing outside of Punxsutawney. What meaning there is will be found within it, not outside of it. That works both for Phil and for the film.

But then again, what hell is that? To live so desperately and so weakly. To be so reliant on the interactions of others. Is this truly what it's like to be God? To thirst for the affection of others, for no reason other than boredom?

I'm not sure bringing joy to others is something I'd characterize as desperate and weak. But setting that aside, remember that ultimately Phil doesn't do his perfect day for other people; they're not even going to remember it later. Phil does his perfect day for himself, because it provides him with a sense of meaning, purpose, and worth.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:48 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved this movie but haven't seen it in years, which means I can't remember if it ever explores the question of what would happen if Larry just stayed awake until the next morning. Does he get knocked unconscious by something falling out of the sky if he tries?

I think he tried that early on, Card Cheat, and while staring at the clock experienced a sudden jump cut to waking up to the radio.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:49 PM on February 27, 2013




I loved this movie but haven't seen it in years, which means I can't remember if it ever explores the question of what would happen if Larry just stayed awake until the next morning. Does he get knocked unconscious by something falling out of the sky if he tries?

I think he tried that early on, Card Cheat, and while staring at the clock experienced a sudden jump cut to waking up to the radio.


No, he falls asleep at like three in the morning. The reboot occurs whenever he falls unconscious, even if after 12am.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:51 PM on February 27, 2013


The reboot occurs whenever he falls unconscious, even if after 12am.

Not quite; this is explicitly shown not to be the case in the morgue scene. The universe reboots at 6AM regardless of what he's doing, or whether he's alive or dead.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:53 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm always amazed that more discussions of Groundhog Day don't alight on 12:01 PM, the Oscar-nominated short film that had the same ideas three years before (with litigious results), and which I love. The protagonist repeats an hour rather than a day - which gives the film license to go full-on with the abject insanity-inducing horror of what being a lonely time-repeater would actually be like. Groundhog Day touches on that idea, but I was always slightly disappointed at it for turning the idea into comedy. (Possibly because I was a mopey teenager at the time.)
posted by sleepcrime at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


A.O. Scott did a relatively recent video review a few years ago that I really enjoyed.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:57 PM on February 27, 2013


I recall hearing or reading somewhere of a planned scene for the movie, which depicts Murray going to the town library and reading one page from a book each day. The scene would finish with Murray reading the last page of the last book and crying.

The only really justifiable interpretation of events from Murray's character's point of view is that he is the only "real" being in his universe. So another reason the film has to stick to the comedic aspects rather than go beyond lightly touching the existential horror with his repeated suicides is that a perfectly reasonable response to being presented with good evidence you're stuck in some sort of hell where no-one but you is real is going on virtual murder sprees and the like. Which would not play well.

I like the film quite a lot but I don't see how you get around the interpretation that no-one but Murray is a real person.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on February 27, 2013


*reads tvtropes link*
Oh yeah! Run Lola Run and Repeaters.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2013


From 1993:
I was impressed. I was moved. It looked like they'd stumbled onto a gem of a premise, and then they had enough filmmaking skill to bring out its full potential.

A couple people on the bus south afterward were bad-mouthing it. We got to talking about it. They'd been expecting the usual Bill Murray comedy and got bored. I said I thought the idea was great, that it was actually a deep story, and that it had a very positive message, because of Murray's evolution of personality. I got off the bus feeling frustrated that I hadn't expressed myself better.

The movie made the claim that people given both security and freedom eventually settle on doing good works, being pleasant, and exploring cultural activities as the way they want to live. I think the power of the premise comes from its creation of an extreme situation of freedom (Murray could do anything possible without any fear of consequences) and security (he knew he'd always be safe and always get another chance), two things people have been striving to get more of since Day One. And the filmmakers competently followed up all the plausible possibilities, fully enough to satisfy me but not dragging it out too long and boring me. I'd put it way up there on my list of good movies.
posted by kadonoishi at 1:01 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


MoxieProxy:
"The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again. Daybreak couldn't sustain the premise week-to-week, despite an interesting start; can't think of any others?"
I was going to just assume the TV Tropes link would lead you to all the examples you'd need, but the one I had in mind wasn't there. The game/anime Higurashi no Naku Koro ni explores the horror and pain aspect of this type of situation very well.
posted by charred husk at 1:05 PM on February 27, 2013


my big issue with the central conceit of the film is that I'm not convinced that, in the parlance of our day, the long arc of history bends toward justice -- or at least, not within one man who exists outside of the effects of time. We are supposed to believe that a man who suffers absolutely no consequences for his actions will, in time, become a caring and thoughtful human

No consequences is only partly correct. No consequences on the rest of the world. Only on his own memory and narrative.

When the *only* thing you can change is how you interpret the world and behave, what will make the difference between heaven and hell?
posted by weston at 1:09 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Instead, my big issue with the central conceit of the film is that I'm not convinced that, in the parlance of our day, the long arc of history bends toward justice -- or at least, not within one man who exists outside of the effects of time. We are supposed to believe that a man who suffers absolutely no consequences for his actions will, in time, become a caring and thoughtful human whose sole goal is to perpetually make others happy

He does start off with stealing money and getting laid under false pretenses and so on, but I suppose after you've seen everyone in the town naked a kajillion times then there is probably nothing left to do but be a nice guy.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2013


Martial arts experts talk about how, in threatening situations, there are times where their muscles react seemingly before their brains can process.

Yeah, as invitapriore touches on, "muscle memory" is very badly named. The fact is, everyone has the ability to react before their conscious minds can process it, it's just that most people's reactions are not what you'd call optimal (for the martial arts' requirements). Practice changes this (slowly). But, again, it's all in the brain.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most interesting part of Groundhog Day is a throwaway scene after Murray's character drives the stolen pickup truck (with Phil) off the cliff in the open-pit mine: we're shown his coworkers from the TV station identifying his body.

This is a fascinating scene because it's the only indication we're given in the movie that time passes independently of whether Murray's character is there to experience it or not.

(...)

I've always wondered about that scene and what the directorial intent was, because it's the only time in the movie when we are given knowledge of Murray's character's condition that the character himself doesn't have.
I believe you're actually confusing two different scenes. We're shown the post-Phil universe at least twice, to my knowledge: Once when he drives the stolen pickup off the cliff, and once when his coworkers identify his body. But I do not believe that these are the same scene.

In the post-Phil-off-the-cliff, we're shown Larry trying to comfort Rita, saying that Phil might still be alive. Then the pickup explodes. Larry says something like "Well, probably not now."

The post-Phil-identify-the-body-in-the-morgue was, I believe, for some other suicide. Larry again tries to comfort Rita, saying to the, uh, mortician? that Phil was a really, really good guy who he liked a lot.
Groundhog Day -- Andie MacDowell Had Sex With an Ageless God
It's at the very least implied that they never actually had sex, not even after the final perfect day. The next morning, he's all excited and starts kissing her over and over; she says something like "Oh, Phil! I wish you were this frisky last night! You just fell right asleep!"

I guess it could be that he fell right asleep after sex, but I don't think this is necessarily the case.
posted by Flunkie at 1:24 PM on February 27, 2013


Actually, now I've just remembered a third view of the post-Phil universe: After Phil drops a toaster in his bathtub, we're shown a shot of the common area of the B&B he's staying in, we hear a big zap, the lights go out, and the woman who runs the B&B says something like "Oh, my".
posted by Flunkie at 1:29 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The pursuit of love would have seemed entirely trivial.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013


and the woman who runs the B&B says something like "Oh, my".

That woman? George Takei.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Serious fans might be interested in the (co-writer's) screenwriter's website.
posted by BWA at 2:01 PM on February 27, 2013


I love Groundhog Day but reason this article I realized, perhaps for the first time, that I try and be Bill Murray at the START of the movie. It's a revelation akin to my sister telling me that Rob Gordon in High Fidelity isn't someone to be admired.

But looking back, Bill Murray goes through all that revelation and eternal recurrence to be stripped of his Bill Murray-ness and be content with a nice woman and a small town? Is that really a happy ending? In Ghostbusters and Stripes he triumphs by being his snarky self, but in Groundhog Day we celebrate his edges being worn away like seaglass?

Maybe I need to watch it again; I used to constantly on Comedy Central.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:32 PM on February 27, 2013


Fun film. Another Bill Murray film that is pretty good, but often gets overlooked, is Quick Change, but I think that would have been a better movie at about 30 minutes long.

I also enjoyed What About Bob?, especially the part where I drown Richard Dreyfuss in the sequel in my head.

But apparently his latest, Hyde Park On The Hudson, is pretty bad, and I actively avoid Wes Anderson films, so it's sad I haven't been able to get a Murray fix for a while. Still, I'll always watch Lost in Translation if it's on, and then there's that sweet spot between (according to Wikipedia) 1984 with Ghostbusters, and 1997 with The Man Who Knew Too Little, where there's a whole bunch of stuff that can be enjoyed again and again. Yay Bill!
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:47 PM on February 27, 2013


David Ives's short play Sure Thing (one of the 5 parts of All In The Timing) predates Groundhog Day by a few years and has the premise of a couple just meeting having to start over again every time the conversation takes a turn for the worse. Not sure if it was an inspiration for the film or not, but the similarities are noticeable.
posted by Mchelly at 2:47 PM on February 27, 2013


Rita makes me shudder and remember, "it's cold out there every day."

I know someone who was unhappily married to someone who adored this movie. For him, Groundhog Day is a film about how an easygoing guy is forced to bend over backwards to change every aspect of himself just to make a controlling woman accept him, while she doesn't have to change at all.

They're divorced now.
posted by Mchelly at 2:50 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Mchelly's post makes me wonder what GROUNDHOG'S DAY would've been like if Rita had lived the day over and over instead of Phil.

Do I smell a remake? or a reboot? Or a ripoff?
posted by MoxieProxy at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why? What is so flawed about Rita's character that she needs to change the way Phil does?

(Assuming we don't agree with the assessment of her as a controlling woman.)

Also...

The premise of P.D. Ouspensky's novel The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin is also very similar (such that it's been quoted as an influence, though both writer and director deny this) - Ouspensky was taken by Nietszche's version of the notion of eternal recurrence, and took it completely literally. At the end of his life he did a tour of places he believed he would be seeing again soon. Gurdjieff, Ouspensky's teacher at the time he wrote the novel, did not subscribe to the idea and mocked him for it. And Bill Murray was a Gurdjieffite for a while.
posted by Grangousier at 3:03 PM on February 27, 2013


MoxieProxy: "The concept of a person repeating the same period of time over and over and over is so brilliant, I'm surprised it wasn't used (successfully) again. Daybreak couldn't sustain the premise week-to-week, despite an interesting start; can't think of any others?"

Interesting. I had never heard of Daybreak, but I find the inclusion of Moon Bloodgood especially intriguing, seeing as she also played in Journeyman, which I greatly enjoyed.
posted by Samizdata at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2013


Danny Rubin actually answers email about the movie, btw. I had a nice email exchange with him a few years ago about it.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on February 27, 2013


Ha, talk about synchronicity - I just introduced a niece to this delightful movie this evening, unaware of the anniversary and this excellent post. It remains my favorite romantic comedy.
posted by bouvin at 3:51 PM on February 27, 2013


Phil is the only one in the film who has free will. Everyone else repeats the day over and over again, but they only react to Phil's actions. Every minute of their lives is pre-determined. In following the script for the perfect day he is surrendering to destiny. Kind of tragic actually. He could have had forever.
posted by humanfont at 4:06 PM on February 27, 2013


But, again, it's all in the brain.

Maybe it's true that if you can train it, then it must be in the brain, but one of the coolest things I remember from high school biology is reflex arcs, which don't involve the brain at all, e.g. knee jerk response.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2013


After Phil drops a toaster in his bathtub, we're shown a shot of the common area of the B&B he's staying in, we hear a big zap, the lights go out, and the woman who runs the B&B says something like "Oh, my".

Electrocution kills by stopping the heart, right? So he'd still have a few minutes before brain death...

Though this doesn't explain the morgue scene.
posted by Hatashran at 4:21 PM on February 27, 2013


Nor Chris Elliot taping the exploding pickup...
posted by Burhanistan at 4:23 PM on February 27, 2013


Andy Ihnatko recently (Dec. 16) did a well-done hour-long podcast #53 exploring this topic. Recommended to fans of the film.
posted by Twang at 4:24 PM on February 27, 2013


Why? What is so flawed about Rita's character that she needs to change the way Phil does?

You aren't suggesting Rita is flawless, are you? A movie from her POV would examine the areas where she needs to grow and/or change. Wouldn't all of us (most of us) benefit in a profound way from Phil's experience? You don't have to start as an asshole in order to benefit from self-reflection the resulting growth it inspires.

And, you know, they would've made Rita's faults more apparent from the start, if the film were her vehicle.
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:28 PM on February 27, 2013


As long as people are posting about other works which draw on similar themes, I found the book Replay [NPR "You Must Read This" segment link] to be a pretty interesting examination of what it means to be a time repeater. Only in this case, it isn't a single day or a single hour, it's a lifetime. The book starts with the main character dying of a heart attack and waking up again when he is a teenager. He then lives to be the same age, dies of a heart attack again, wakes up young again, etc.
posted by hippybear at 4:31 PM on February 27, 2013


controlling woman

I don't think I've ever blown the sexist whistle on this site, but I'm doing it now. In the movie she's very deliberately portrayed as a idealist/optimist as a foil to Phil.

That she holds out for high standards for the love of her life while Phil tries to score a one-night stand and she's the one who draws criticism? Movie beanplating is gonna beanplate, but just no on this one.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


New guy wants to know two things: 1. What's beanplating? and 2. How do I fix a typo in one of my previous posts?
posted by MoxieProxy at 4:44 PM on February 27, 2013


The comments on that Guardian article are hilarious.

I like this one which talks about Candlemas as being the festival which lies behind the groundhog's prophecy. To be specific we go
1) Kid Jesus in the Temple is foretold to be a "light to lighten the gentiles" so we have
2) Candlemas to celebrate this prophecy at the start of February and
3) A tangential belief from the middle ages that shitty weather at Candlemas is a harbinger of an early spring - and vice-versa.
4) Which the medieval Germans elaborate by saying that you can tell whether or not the weather is shitty on Candlemas by looking to see if there is enough sun beneath a badger to cast a shadow.
5) The Germans who get to Pennsylvania choose the groundhog as the closest local approximation.

Candlemas, however is also Imbolc in the much older Celtic calendar: the first day of Spring as evidenced by it being the time when ewes would start to lactate and people would generally look to wild animals for signs of improving weather. It is also saint Brighid's day - she was a goddess of fertility who would visit in the night if you invited her in the right manner.

I am not sure if the writers intended Phil to be stuck in precisely on the cusp between winter and spring, eternally reading the runes of woodchuck and perusing a goddess Rita in the hope of moving forward - but the symbolism happens to tie in.
posted by rongorongo at 4:58 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) beanplating is when you take a simple concept and go through ridiculous amounts of detailed examination of it -- overthinking a plate of beans.

2) You have a 5-minute edit window during which you can fix your typos. You will see a link for editing at the end of your comment, after 5 minutes that link vanishes.
posted by hippybear at 4:59 PM on February 27, 2013


I was all excited to watch the movie tonight but it's no longer on Netflix instant. Must've been removed in the last month or so. Also:

Metafilter: Kind of tragic actually.
posted by mediated self at 5:22 PM on February 27, 2013


I saw the movie again this past Groundhog day for the first time since it came out and was delightedly surprised at how well it holds up. It's still very funny and strikingly subtle and understated. And Murray's performance is fantastic.

The main part about the piano playing that made no sense to me was that, on his final day, he apparently goes to the music teacher, offers her $1000 for a music lesson, sits down at the piano and is clearly already a great player. Maybe she offers him a few master tips on technique or expression. Then later she sees him play in public and gushes to Andie, "That's my student!" as if she feels entitled to take credit for how well he's playing.
posted by straight at 5:33 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The guy from Memento would have no problem with staying in Groundhog Day.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:34 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then later she sees him play in public and gushes to Andie, "That's my student!" as if she feels entitled to take credit for how well he's playing.

I always thought that was the joke rather than a plot inconsistency.
posted by mediated self at 5:36 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Plus she was the one who taught him, anyway.
posted by empath at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2013


The guy from Memento would have no problem with staying in Groundhog Day.

Especially since he would run in to Sammy Jankis everyday. He wouldn't even need a tattoo!
posted by mediated self at 5:57 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nobody has made an obvious comment about how once you become an adult life is basically Groundhog Day anyway, with only minor variations?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:31 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nobody has made an obvious comment about how once you become an adult life is basically Groundhog Day anyway, with only minor variations?

Oh, but it is not.

See, it would be easy to allow workaday adult life to become Groundhog Day, the same thing repeating endlessly...

But the point of the movie, indeed the point of these reflections on the movie, is that even with the endless repetition of daily life, there are choices you can make which bring depth and meaning into one's experience, and which enriches the experience of those with whom you come in contact.

It's when you choose not to make those choices and simply live a repetitive life that you become stuck. Start deciding to do things which have depth, and you become unstuck and life moves forward.
posted by hippybear at 6:41 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nobody has made an obvious comment about how once you become an adult life is basically Groundhog Day anyway, with only minor variations?

FTFY, and what hippybear said.
posted by ElGuapo at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


But the point of the movie, indeed the point of these reflections on the movie, is that even with the endless repetition of daily life, there are choices you can make which bring depth and meaning into one's experience, and which enriches the experience of those with whom you come in contact.

Like courting the nicest, kinda prettiest girl in town? That's part of the repetition. There's also the barely acknowledged subtext of my least favorite trope - the 'inauthentic' urban person who must submit to small town life. There's probably much more depth even in a small city; you could live hundreds of days in New York and not get bored.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:44 PM on February 27, 2013


Aren't all the girls one is a'courtin' the nicest prettiest girl in town?

(Not that I have ever courted a girl in my life...)

Anyway, NYC is just a giant collection of neighborhoods each of which can become its own small town if you aren't wandering outside of it. It's easy to get caught up in the mundane cycle of life, and it's the choices you make which can break you out of it. That's a message which this film couches in the setting of a small town, but it holds true no matter what your surrounds.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on February 27, 2013


Anyway, NYC is just a giant collection of neighborhoods each of which can become its own small town if you aren't wandering outside of it. It's easy to get caught up in the mundane cycle of life, and it's the choices you make which can break you out of it. That's a message which this film couches in the setting of a small town, but it holds true no matter what your surrounds.

So the film is a machine for turning a snarky Bill Murray into, well, a hippy?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:53 PM on February 27, 2013


At this point I don't even know if you've seen the film.
posted by hippybear at 6:57 PM on February 27, 2013


At this point I don't even know if you've seen the film.

It's been a long time, and I used to think it was the perfect film. But I was younger, and in the same depressed mindset the author describes. And I also liked Micheal, another fantasy where John Travolta woos Andie McDowell.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:00 PM on February 27, 2013


the barely acknowledged subtext of my least favorite trope - the 'inauthentic' urban person who must submit to small town life

I didn't see it that way. Phil's coworkers from the big city get stuck in the small town too, but unlike him, they end up enjoying themselves because they are nice to the townspeople and are able to just let go and have fun once they realize they can't go anywhere.

Beginning-of-the-movie Phil is not inauthentic because he's urban. He's a jerk because he thinks he's superior to everyone and is entirely unconcerned with anyone else's happiness but his own. Other people--the townsfolk, his big-city colleagues--are welcoming and, even though he's a jerk to them, offer him opportunities to enjoy himself. But Phil keeps pushing them away and refuses to engage with them. THAT'S what the movie is critical of.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:31 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He's a jerk because he thinks he's superior to everyone

So it's a subversion of other Bill Murray movies where he PROVES he's superior to everyone else instead of being taken down a peg? Again, other people--the townsfolk, his big-city colleagues--are welcoming and, even though he's a jerk to them, offer him opportunities to enjoy himself is still part of the urban/rural stereotype.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:36 PM on February 27, 2013


But his coworkers aren't unpleasant and they're urbanites like Phil--they're all from the same big city. In the scene back in the newsroom before they all go to the small town, they're shown being collegial and friendly with each other--it's only Phil who refuses to join in with them. Then when they realize they're stuck in the small town, they make the best of it by having fun and inviting Phil to join them. How does that support the urban/rural stereotype? Whether they're in the big city or the small town, they're nice and capable of having fun, unlike Phil who is just miserable all the time, no matter where he is.

Phil's unhappy and an asshole everywhere, but his idea of purgatory (or maybe hell!) is a small town, so his purgatorial experience has to be set in a small town.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:53 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not an expert in Buddhist philosophy, and I'm not certain how to read Phil's enlightenment IRT intention vs. action, etc., but one of the keys to his character for me is his discontent with the-way-things-are (more so than strictly egocentrism or his being an urbanite). At the beginning of the film it is clear that he is dissatisfied with his position as a Pittsburgh TV weatherman, and he says to a colleague something like, "I'll have you know a major network is very interested in me." This exchange communicates to the audience that he is more concerned with possible future outcomes than with his present position. His spiritual breakthrough, IMO, is most clearly articulated on his last iteration of the Groundhog Day temporal loop when he says to Rita, "Whatever happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I'm happy now," meaning that he is no longer preoccupied with an imagined future, he is living in the present and is content.
posted by mediated self at 8:18 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'd like to see another variation on this film where instead of there being a heavenly directive to "fix" Phil, the time-loop is simply random, an accident. It corrects itself after about 600 days or so, right when Phil is at his most discontent, and after a day in which he burned down all of the churches in town.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:47 AM on February 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I've occasionally thought about the GHD scenario, and how I'd probably be too scared it would abruptly come to an end right after I'd done something nefarious--forcing me to deal with the consequences--to actually do anything like rob a bank or get myself thrown in jail for whatever. I mean, it's such an outlandish thing to happen to a person in the first place, my first instinct would probably be to assume it was the work of some trickster entity that is just waiting for me to fuck things up for myself to the point where all it has to do is let things continue on and I'm hosed. I wonder how long it would take for me to just not give a fuck anymore. One year? Ten years?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:53 AM on February 28, 2013


I believe you're actually confusing two different scenes. We're shown the post-Phil universe at least twice, to my knowledge: Once when he drives the stolen pickup off the cliff, and once when his coworkers identify his body. But I do not believe that these are the same scene. [...] The post-Phil-identify-the-body-in-the-morgue was, I believe, for some other suicide. Larry again tries to comfort Rita, saying to the, uh, mortician? that Phil was a really, really good guy who he liked a lot.

Yes, I think you are correct; the morgue scene wouldn't make much sense after the pickup truck scene, because Phil would have been burned to a crisp. I think that it was actually shown after one of the other suicides.

I didn't think about the instant immediately following the truck explosion as also being one where we're let in to the fact that the universe goes on without Phil in it, but that's arguably the case. (Or not: perhaps, during those seconds when Larry says "probably not now" and lifts up the camera for some footage, Phil is still alive and burning to death inside the truck... maybe he's just mostly dead.)

But at any rate, aside from Larry's line to the mortician ("really, really good guy"), the only purpose of that scene where they identify Phil's body seems to be to show that Phil really isn't crazy, and that there is some sort of time-loop going on that exists independently of his perception. Otherwise, it would be easy to decide that we're just seeing the internal POV of a crazy person.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:57 AM on February 28, 2013


(to extend my previous comment)

On the other hand, think of all the time you'd have for meditation!
posted by adamdschneider at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2013


Oh dear, now I'm convinced that what probably happens at the end of each day is the universe splits and there's one branch where Phil loops back to Groundhog Day and another that continues on with all the consequences of Phil's actions that day.
posted by straight at 10:38 AM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine if you had to repeat today over and over.
posted by crossoverman at 12:29 PM on February 28, 2013


We might be. We're not Bill Murray.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:57 PM on February 28, 2013


But at any rate, aside from Larry's line to the mortician ("really, really good guy"), the only purpose of that scene where they identify Phil's body seems to be to show that Phil really isn't crazy, and that there is some sort of time-loop going on that exists independently of his perception. Otherwise, it would be easy to decide that we're just seeing the internal POV of a crazy person.

I think that's an incorrect reading, but I don't think the scenes where we see that Phil is dead establishes that it's an incorrect reading. It's possible to dream about your own funeral.
posted by painquale at 2:28 PM on February 28, 2013


Oh dear, now I'm convinced that what probably happens at the end of each day is the universe splits and there's one branch where Phil loops back to Groundhog Day and another that continues on with all the consequences of Phil's actions that day.

See "How Groundhog Day Works" for a useful universe splitting illustration then. The whole idea of Eternal Re-run Universes is an interesting concept in that it unites a string of ancient and modern philosophies, several religions and a number of modern cosmologists.
posted by rongorongo at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2013


See "How Groundhog Day Works" for a useful universe splitting illustration then.

I suppose it could be said that the universe was just “rewinded” back to the morning of Ground Hog Day and the reason Bill Murray knows it has been rewinded is for the same reason of his “consciousness” being plucked out of the universe and moved back to that point. There is nothing that I know of in science that could explain how time can magically rewind. Rewinding time to me is more fantasy than sci-fiction.

Right, because Phil's consciousness being redirected into his own head which is the same and in a universe entirely the same as which he left, somehow, after the Big Crunch/Bang is totally not fantasy.

Nothing splitting in this postulate.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:46 PM on February 28, 2013


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