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GROUNDHOG DAY
1993 - Harold Ramis
United States
124
Opening Shot

Time-lapse images of clouds in the sky are shown over the opening titles sequence as it transitions we hear a voice, "Somebody asked me today, Phil if you could be anywhere, where would you be?" The image then fades into a hand pointing over a blue screen and as the camera pans back we establish that this voice is from a weathermen describing the beautiful current conditions in California before moving ton to the potential snow storm prediction moving into his local area of Pittsburgh.

The Film

Groundhog Day truly is a timeless film. Beyond its comic hilarity (which makes it one of the most endlessly funny comedies ever made), as well as it insights of the human psyche, Groundhog Day has been openly embraced by its spiritual importance. Religions of all kinds see the film as a guidance of faith, and while all of these may ring true, above all it is the transcendence of the films incredible depth that makes it such a n enduring timeless classic. On a very light-hearted level, Groundhog Day is a film that works as a reflection of Buddhism. The beauty of the film is the unconscious manner in which it goes about a reflection of Buddhism (and/or any other religion). The best representation is the films metaphor of samsara and the infinite life or reincarnation. The main character (Phil Connors, played to perfection by Bill Murray in one of the very greatest comedic performances of all-time) wakes up every morning in the exact same place and time. No matter what he does he can not escape, and wakes the next day to the exact sample routine. Finding himself trapped not only within the routine, but within himself, Phil begins to grow. He begins to look past his personal desires towards helping others. His selfish behavior and self-centered attitude becomes more life-centered, and most importantly without self-purpose or conscious effort. Phil breaks free from his trapped personality, and thus he represents that of the sincere bodhisattva (or an awaken-one). Phil does not just decide to become a good person, but rather through the frustrations (and the practice) of repeating the same day without escape, Phil gains the wisdom of seeing himself and the moment as it is. With honest respect and compassion of others, freedom is found! To simplify this film on these terms would probably undermine it's strengths as a truly wonderful and significant achievement. However it does justify the profound beauty and message of compassion and spiritual guidance which lies at the heart of Groundhog Day. This is a film I continue to revisit and learn from.

The Filmmaker

Harold Ramis began working as an improvisational comedian on stage before moving on television as co-writer and star of Second City TV. In 1978 Ramis co-wrote his first film, the comedy hit Animal House, which earned him a Writers Guild Award nomination. Ramis continued writing some of the most beloved comedies of the late 1970s and early 1980s including Meatballs (1979), Caddyshack (1980), Stripes (1981), Vacation (1983), Ghostbusters (1984), Back to School (1986). Caddyshack marked Ramis directorial debut and he also directed Vacation, which spawned three sequels (all of which Ramis did not write or direct). Ramis also gave memorable performances in both Stripes and Ghostbusters, both of which showed his great chemistry with comedian Bill Murray. This lead to what I believe is the masterpiece of both Ramis writer-director career and Murray's acting career, with 1993's Groundhog Day- a film that is an immediate classic and one of the very greatest comedies ever made. Unfortunately Murray and Ramis had some issues while making the film and they've yet to work together since. Ramis has occasionally worked on projects since be it as director, writer, or actor (making memorable small appearances in comedies like Knocked Up and Orange County). 1996's Multiplicity is sort of an underrated achievement and his 1999 film Analyze This was both a critical and box office success, paving the way for a sequel in 2002 Analyze That, which was only a bit better then his not horrible but not very good 2000 film Bedazzled. It would be nice for both Murray and Ramis to reunite and capture some of the comedic magic they had together.

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Resources
trailer (youtube)      
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