Today is Tomorrow. It Happened.Posted: May 13, 2011
The movie Groundhog Day is a timeless masterpiece. Directed by Harold Ramis in 1993, this film is highly philosophical and yes, even spiritual.
After the basic premise has been setup, there is a key scene in which Bill Murray’s character, Phil, asks his drinking buddies a question: “”What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was the same and nothing mattered?” This question is the key to unlocking the pure joy that is to be had in watching this movie. He’s not just asking fellow bowling alley patrons a silly question; the movie is asking you, the audience. If your reaction to this question is the same as the drunken barfly, “Well, that about sums it up for me,” this is where you should start paying attention.
At the beginning, Phil is the kind of guy who is truly self-centered, rude and has a huge ego. But, after being stuck in literally the same day for an undetermined amount of time (I read somewhere that the director thought it would have been in the neighborhood of 40,000 cycles of the same day), Phil experiences a soul-crushing despair, even to the point of trying to kill himself over and over. It never took.
But, like any good protagonist, he learns and changes along the way. He is eventually able to break the “curse” and go on living his life and is a better man for having the experience. So, what did he do that got him out of his perpetual misery? This is the important moral or lesson of this story.
Phil, having nothing but contempt for the “hicks” he was surrounded by in Punxsutawney, PA, starts learning more about them, and to know what they are like, how they ticked. Phil stops looking inward. He starts focusing his attention on the people around him and learns to accept them as they are. Phil leaves his cynicism in the dust. He learns to play the piano, buys an aging homeless man a meal, and even helps fix some little old ladies’ flat tire. He has become kind and giving to others. Why? Because nothing else was working!
There is a lot of religious philosophy in this movie, but I am of the opinion that you don’t have to be religious to find meaning in it. Anyone can take it to heart and be the better for it. If I’m not mistaken, Christian theology actually teaches that these lessons are meant for everyone. If the world is what we make of it; change yourself and you will change the world.
In the immortal words of Bill S. Preston, Esq.,
“Be excellent to each other.”