Why we go back to Groundhog Day again and againby Jessica Furseth / February 1, 2018 / Leave a comment
Groundhog Day happens once a year—every 2nd February in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, great fuss is made as a groundhog emerges to predict the end of winter. The hope is that we’ll get an early spring, but most years the groundhog sees its shadow and we get six more weeks of winter.
For such a short month, February drags on for very a long time, occupying that in-between space after the holidays where nothing really happens.
For Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, the classic 1993 comedy that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, February could certainly have gone on forever. For him, the 2nd of February reset every morning at 6am, forcing him to live the day over and over.
Groundhog Day is perhaps an odd film to take on the cult status it has. Bill Murray’s character is a grumpy middle-aged weatherman who’s mean to everyone around him. He spends the first half of the film trying to hook up with Andie MacDowell’s character Rita Hanson—despite the fact that she’s a wet blanket who says things like “I always drink to world peace.”
At first, Murray’s Phil Connors revels in the fact that he can do anything he wants without consequences, but the futility of the situation eventually overwhelms him. He’s stuck in a boring place, doing his boring job, surrounded by boring people who adore a stupid groundhog. Connors was fed up and frustrated with life before the time loop, but at least before there was hope—now he knows for a fact that nothing will ever change.
For a comedy, Groundhog Day delves into some pretty profound territory. Connors is powerless to change his circumstances, and once he realises this it gets really dark: he becomes severely depressed, before repeatedly attempting suicide. When that doesn’t work, he becomes nihilistic, resorting to watching Jeopardy reruns and eating cake in his pyjamas.
“I bet you could figure out a lot about people from their interpretation of that film,” my friend Matt, a fellow fan, says. “Is it a loop until he succeeds at ‘getting the girl’? Is it a metaphor for life, repeating mistakes over and over till you learn from them? Is it a fantasy world of zero consequences that’s ruined when he becomes a better person?”
It’s never explained why Connors…