I watched Groundhog Day every day for a year. Here’s what I learned | Groundhog Day

I watched Groundhog Day on daily basis for a 12 months. This is what I discovered | Groundhog Day

“What would you do should you had been caught in a single place and on daily basis was precisely the identical and nothing you probably did mattered?”

So asks time-stranded weatherman Phil Connors, performed by Invoice Murray, as he begins to grapple together with his predicament within the 1993 comedy basic Groundhog Day.

On February 2nd, whereas protecting the annual Groundhog Pageant within the quaint city of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil finds himself caught in a time warp the place he relives the identical day over and over.

In 2021, I wrestled with the identical query. Residing in lockdown I felt frustration, boredom and as if progress had stalled. Circumstances provided me the chance to tackle a really uncommon problem: watch the identical movie as soon as a day for a 12 months.

As a movie scholar and cinephile, I wished to learn the way properly a movie holds up this fashion and what a viewer may acquire from the expertise. Groundhog Day was the pure candidate.

On a Monday morning in September 2021, I sat on my sofa and pressed play.

The act of watching

Within the first month I used to be primarily occupied with the storytelling.

Like many earlier viewers, I’ve questioned how lengthy Phil was caught within the loop (my very own estimate is 30 years, which falls between the ten years provided by director Harold Ramis and the ten,000 years in Danny Rubin’s unique screenplay ).

I questioned the credibility of Rita (Andie MacDowell), who fell in love with Phil after solely understanding him a day. I questioned how a lot of Murray’s efficiency was improvised (in Rubin’s phrases: some “coloring” however proportionally lower than assumed).

Steadily, my familiarity with the narrative led me to shift focus. Rewatching was all about exploration as I attempted to uncover particulars that the common viewer may need missed.

I steadily seen the reappearance of sure extras from scene to scene and constructed my very own narrative round their identities. I spotted that the boy within the wheelchair within the background of the hospital scene is identical boy that Phil will save from a damaged leg on daily basis.

I used as a lot further materials as potential for the movie. Rubin’s script and accompanying commentary by movie critic Ryan Gilbey detailed monograph and Ramis’ commentary had been all insightful. In hindsight, I notice that I used to be following my pure inclination as a scholar to attempt to perceive one thing extra absolutely by delving deeper into it.

After which I hit the doldrums.

Andie Macdowell and Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
One of many extra questionable parts of Groundhog Day… Andie Macdowell and Invoice Murray fall in love. Photograph: Columbia/Allstar

change of perspective

Within the center, my viewing had shifted to a form of cataloging and memorizing. With Phil Connors’ climate studies working via my head unbidden, I had constructed a psychological map of Punxsutawney the place I felt I might information a customer. I began speaking to the movie because it performed.

Some days the sight felt like a curse. When Rita discovers Phil’s dilemma, she says, “Possibly it isn’t a curse. Possibly it depends upon the way you take a look at it.”

Within the final three months my very own change of perspective got here into play. I returned to the exploratory perspective, inspired by sharing and discussing theories with others who preferred the movie however weren’t loopy sufficient to observe it a whole bunch of occasions.

New theories emerged. I made a decision that the bartender on the Pennsylvanian Lodge is conscious of Phil’s predicament (be aware his understanding seems to be and the way rapidly he serves them their favourite drinks) and that one of many Punxsutawney residents is clearly having an affair, as seen attending the Groundhog Pageant together with his spouse and the banquet together with his mistress.

I am not the primary to postulate alternative readings of the movie, however I understood in my final viewing session {that a} movie can change with us and reveal new ranges from viewing to viewing.

films as buddies

Lately, many students have studied the apply of repeat viewing, significantly with the appearance of know-how that provides flexibility as to when and the place we wish.

Movie theorist Barbara Klinger suggests Nicely-known movies have the flexibility to change into our “buddies,” and she or he launched the time period “karaoke cinema” to explain the enjoyment of deep intimacy and citability, arguing that this expertise brings each a component of consolation and in addition conveyed to the championship.

My expertise definitely confirms their claims. Watching Groundhog Day on daily basis for a 12 months has given me a deeper understanding of how a movie can embrace a wide range of individuals – significantly those we might wish to relive.

The legacy of Groundhog Day is obvious within the recurring attraction of the time loop narrative in TV reveals and movies corresponding to PalmSprings, Russian doll and Happy death anniversary.

And like several useful murals, it could possibly face up to its personal deep scrutiny, revealing its a number of layers and dimensions to the curious viewer.

After I reached the end line I used to be elated and celebrated with a ultimate viewing on the massive display. I’ve a sense it will likely be a while earlier than I revisit the movie, but it surely’s reassuring to know it will likely be there once I’m prepared, an previous pal who welcomes guests.


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