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Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
My favourite film...

Sunday February 1, 2004
The Observer

(Today) is Groundhog Day. Perhaps your diary does not remind you of this celebration; mine lists nothing between Epiphany and St Valentine's. Maybe because the 117-year-old Groundhog festival takes place in Punxsutawney, western Pennsylvania. In less than 24 hours, 30,000 revellers will descend on the town to witness a weather report delivered by a rodent. If Phil the groundhog sees his shadow when he is lifted from his burrow at 7.25am, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, spring will come early this year.

The celebrations began a few days ago with events including the Groundhog Wrestlefest in the Community Centre Gym, a 'Little Mr and Miss Groundhog' contest for kindergarten pupils, and a 'Chilli Cook-Off' competition at the Christian School. Since 1993, the festival has also included a free screening of Groundhog Day, which introduced to the world this obscure occasion, previously regarded as the preserve of hicks and oddballs.

Groundhog Day was not an enormous commercial hit when it opened in early 1993. The $70.9 million it made at the US box office didn't give it the clout of Jurassic Park, Mrs Doubtfire or Indecent Proposal among the year's top moneyspinners. But it has emerged as one of the most influential films in modern cinema - and not only on other movies. Tony Blair did not refer to Jurassic Park in his sombre speech about the Northern Ireland peace process. Dispatches during the search for weapons of mass distraction made no mention of Mrs Doubtfire . And the Archbishop of Canterbury neglected to name-check Indecent Proposal when delivering the 2002 Richard Dimbleby Lecture. But Groundhog Day was invoked on each of these occasions.

The title has become a way of encapsulating those feelings of futility, repetition and boredom that are a routine part of our lives. When Groundhog Day is referred to, it is not the 2 February celebration that comes to mind, but the story of a cynical TV weatherman, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, who pitches up in Punxsutawney to cover the festivities. Next morning, he wakes to discover it's not the next morning at all: he is trapped in Groundhog Day. No matter what crimes he commits or how definitively he annihilates himself, he will be returned to his dismal bed-and-breakfast each morning at 5.59am.

Mention of a movie by a public figure is no guarantee of its quality, as Ronald Reagan demonstrated with his enthusiasm for the Rambo series. ('Next time we have a problem,' he declared after seeing Rambo: First Blood Part II, 'I'll know who to call.') And when a movie title is used in the media, it is less an indication of quality than a short-cut to the audience's understanding. Reality is much easier to comprehend if it can be likened to a film everyone has seen.

So any murder committed by lovers on the lam will be compared to Natural Born Killers. A woman who hotfoots it to Alicante while her four-year-old subsists on Marmite and sponge fingers is a ' Home Alone mum'. Other films become so much a part of daily life that they no longer seem like films at all. We have heard the line: 'I'll make you an offer you can't refuse' so many times, for instance, that it now seems to belong to us rather than to The Godfather.

Media references to Groundhog Day would hardly be worth noting, then, were it not for their volume and eclecticism. Even discounting Andrew Neil - Groundhog Day being his favourite way of describing another repetitive week in Parliament - there is a widespread reliance on the film as journalistic shorthand.

The film is mentioned in sports reporting ('It's Groundhog Day at Dhaka, where Andrew Flintoff hits his third unbeaten half-century of the series...') and horoscopes ('It feels like you're living through your own personal Groundhog Day,' unlucky Leos are told). It makes it into an editorial on Iraq ('No "smoking guns", no huge breakthroughs, just a hint that Groundhog Day may be over'), while a distraught kidnap victim uses the phrase to describe his captivity in the Colombian jungle. Either the film touched a nerve or our vocabulary had not previously been equipped to articulate a commonly felt frustration.

Danny Rubin, who wrote the first draft of the film, is pleased that it has penetrated the popular consciousness. 'In everyday life, and especially in politics, it's become a phrase everyone uses,' he says from his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 'That makes me proud. It's worked its way into the lexicon. And friends will often clue me in to shows that have ripped off the idea - sorry, paid homage - in their storytelling formats.'

Critic and novelist Kim Newman agrees that the movie is a popular stand-by for TV scriptwriters. 'Groundhog Day has become one of those films, like Die Hard, that gets remade as episodes of TV series whenever inspiration flags,' he says. Sure enough, the film's narrative can be seen enjoying new life in The X-Files, Xena: Warrior Princess and the science-fiction series Seven Days.

The film's influence on cinema is even more prevalent. The writer Gilbert Adair has cited Groundhog Day as the progenitor of 'avant-garde lite', a sub-genre that specialises in 'new and sometimes surprisingly complex narrative structures' (The Truman Show, Twelve Monkeys, the films of Spike Jonze). And it's true that Groundhog Day is responsible for the use of science-fiction conventions in romantic comedy. Sliding Doors and Passion of Mind imagine parallel versions of one woman's life; The Family Man gives Nicolas Cage the chance to glimpse what might have happened if he had chosen love over money. And Jim Carrey has devoted himself to seeking out a new Groundhog Day in Liar, Liar and Bruce Almighty. Of course, Carrey could never equal Murray's marrow-deep amorality. He's too needy, whereas Murray doesn't need anything. Not even sunlight.

While Groundhog Day is undeniably charming, it shares a certain stubbornness of purpose with its star. From the moment Rubin typed the first line of his first draft, he resolved to withhold all explanations about how Connors came to be stuck in a time-loop. Co-written and directed by Harry Ramis, the finished film exploits the witty device of a narrative that achieves momentum without moving forward. Rubin refused to surrender the enigma at the movie's core; the absence of narrative exposition remains the most audacious element of Groundhog Day, not to mention one of the most daring ellipses in Hollywood cinema.

'The studio argued that the audience would be confused,' he recalls. 'I told them that if we explain it, we trivialise it. Who cares if it's a celestial event or whatever? Harold called me and said, "Just write something. We can always cut it out." I said, "What do you want? A gypsy curse?" That was the most stupid, commercial idea I could think of. He said, "Yeah, just write that."'

Rubin and Ramis both dashed off scenes to placate executives. Ramis's rewrite contained some dimwitted alterations that reveal how close the filmmakers came to squandering their picture's potential. In his version, Ramis created a spurned lover who takes revenge on Phil with the help of 101 Curses, Spells and Enchantments You Can Do at Home. 'Harold's draft also had a lot of adolescent, topical humour,' adds Rubin. 'I said, "You've gotta take all this out, because this movie is going to go on for years and years." Even then I believed it would achieve that kind of longevity. Of course, I've also believed that every screenplay I wrote would get made and that hasn't happened.'

As well as making its impact on cinema and language, Groundhog Day has exerted a strong influence on religious thinking. Rubin and Ramis continue to receive letters congratulating them on a positive representation of Buddhism.

Presumably they file such correspondence alongside similar messages in which the film is claimed by Jesuit priests, rabbis, and followers of the Chinese spiritual movement Falun Dafa, aka Falun Gong. All the letters are characterised by a singleminded belief that the movie endorses the author's faith. 'At first, I would get mail saying, "You must be a Christian, because the movie so beautifully expresses Christian belief,"'Ramis said recently. 'Then rabbis started calling, saying they were preaching the film as their next sermon.'

In December, the New York's Museum of Modern Art acknowledged the Groundhog Day phenomenon when it presented a season of movies entitled 'The Hidden God: Film and Faith'. Although the programme included work by masters such as Bergman and Rossellini, Groundhog Day was shown on the opening night. The New York Times harvested opinions from experts. 'The movie tells us, as Judaism does, that the work doesn't end until the world has been perfected,' argued Dr Niles Goldstein. Meanwhile, the critic Michael Bronski announced: 'The groundhog is the resurrected Christ, the ever-hopeful renewal of life at springtime, at a time of pagan-Christian holidays. And when I say the groundhog is Jesus, I say that with great respect.'

The paper also revealed that 'curators of the series, polling some 35 critics in the literary, religious and movie worlds to suggest films with religious interpretations, found that Groundhog Day came up so many times there was a squabble over who would write about it in the retrospective's catalogue'.

Groundhog Day continues to capture our collective imagination. Unlike Pulp Fiction or This is Spinal Tap, it isn't quoted endlessly in pubs and at parties, though it has its share of zingers. And, unlike Casablanca or The Third Man, it contains no single scene ever likely to become iconic. But it's scarcely short of supporters. At the National Film Theatre three years ago, it was voted one of 12 all-time greats in a 'members' choice' season, alongside two Kubricks, a Scors ese and a David Lean. The movie might not have continued to inspire this level of devotion without its central, unanswerable mystery about the cause of the time loop; other Hollywood fantasies provide explanations for their supernatural events. But it helps that Groundhog Day is also funny, thanks largely to Bill Murray at his disreputable best.

More than most films, Groundhog Day is whatever you make it. If you're having a good day, it demonstrates that happiness can be achieved only through absolute selflessness. If you got out of bed the wrong side this morning, then the fact that Phil only improves himself once he tires of narcissism, casual sex, crime and suicide proves that the movie is bleaker than it might appear. Whichever way you look at it, Groundhog Day could be on course to replicate the longevity of the festival from which it takes its name. At this moment, normally sensible people are cramming into Gobbler's Knob, the unfortunately named square in Punxsutawney, where they will spend tonight toasting marshmallows, waving banners, singing songs and waiting for the dispensation of wisdom from an outsized rodent with an overbite.
 

Shagster69

Guest
I'll be honest, i stopped reading after 2 paragraphs.
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Shagster69 @ Feb. 02 2004,16:38)]I'll be honest, i stopped reading after 2 paragraphs.
shall I sum it up for you?

Buddhists, Jews and Christians are trying to claim it as a representation of their faith. Everyone appreciates it as an excellent film. It's bleak, but offers hope. It has been quoted in important speeches and the phrase has entered the common lexicon. Oh and it was thei first rom-com to use science-fiction as a plot device.

cool.gif
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
19,929
Location
Lewisham, London
Wow... I thought my posts were long.

tounge.gif


OK, Naps - being our resident internet guru, can you answer us this: did Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow this year?!

Matt

P.S. Awesome film; Murray is a genius.
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
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Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Matt the Shrimp @ Feb. 02 2004,17:01)]Wow... I thought my posts were long.

tounge.gif


OK, Naps - being our resident internet guru, can you answer us this: did Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow this year?!

Matt

P.S. Awesome film; Murray is a genius.
Yeah, I know, ctrl-c, ctrl-v.

Anyway, it depends- there's two groundhogs:

In Wisconsin, it was snowing when Jimmy the Groundhog made his annual prognostication today, but he predicted an early spring. He did not see his shadow when he came out at sunrise.

The more famous Punxsutawney Phil, however, did see his shadow at Punxsutawney, Pa., and thus predicted six more weeks of winter.

Groundhog
 

Groyne Strain

Manager
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
1,517
Location
The Crane
You do realise it's on Channel 5 tonight at 9pm? If we all tune in we'll treble C5's viewing figures.
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Matt the Shrimp @ Feb. 03 2004,11:20)]I watched it.  Favourite bit: where Punxsutawney Phil is driving the pick up...
Nah.

Phil: "What's your name?"
Nancy: "Nancy Taylor. And you are- "
Phil: "Where you'd go to high school?"
Nancy: "What is this?"
Phil: "High school?"
Nancy: "Lincoln High School. In Pittsburgh.Who are you?"
Phil: "Who was your 12th grade English teacher?"
Nancy: "Are you kidding?"
Phil: "I'm waiting."
Nancy: "Mrs. Walsh"
Phil: "Walsh. Nancy, Lincoln, Walsh"
Nancy: "Is this some kind of come-on?"
Phil: "I don't know- we'll have to see"

Next morning

Phil: "Nancy?"
Phil: "Nancy, right?"
Nancy: "I'm sorry, I..."
Phil: "Nancy Taylor? Lincoln High? I sat next to you in Mrs Walsh's class"
Nancy: "That..."
Phil: "Phil Connors."
Nancy: "Is amazing"
Phil: "You don't remember me, do you?"
Nancy: "I don't...sure, I think"
Phil: "We used to shoot spitballs"
Nancy: "Yeah, oh, God"
Phil: "I even asked you to the Prom"
Nancy: "Phil Connors"
Phil: "Yeah."
Nancy: "How ARE you?"
Phil: "I'm great. Wow, you look terrific. Hey listen, I've got to do this report..."
Nancy: "You're a reporter?"
Phil: "Weatherman. Channel 9, Pittsburgh."
Nancy: "Right, I should've known"
Phil: "But maybe after that we could..."
Nancy: "Yeah, yeah, I'd like that"
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
19,929
Location
Lewisham, London
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 03 2004,11:50)]Nah.

Phil: "What's your name?"...

Next morning

Phil: "Nancy?"
Only because you wish that you had the power/opportunity to pull that one...

wink.gif
tounge.gif


Matt
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Matt the Shrimp @ Feb. 03 2004,11:59)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 03 2004,11:50)]Nah.

Phil: "What's your name?"...

Next morning

Phil: "Nancy?"
Only because you wish that you had the power/opportunity to pull that one...

wink.gif
 
tounge.gif


Matt
True.

sad.gif


laugh.gif
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
19,929
Location
Lewisham, London
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 03 2004,12:02)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Matt the Shrimp @ Feb. 03 2004,11:59)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 03 2004,11:50)]Nah.

Phil: "What's your name?"...

Next morning

Phil: "Nancy?"
Only because you wish that you had the power/opportunity to pull that one...

wink.gif
 
tounge.gif


Matt
True.

sad.gif


laugh.gif
And how did I guess that? Because the thought has also occurred to me, when watching that bit of the film: "what a lucky bugger, being able to pull that stunt on a reasonably tidy looking bird"... who, it transpires, is absolutely gagging for it...

wow.gif
laugh.gif


Matt
 

Spaceman Spiff

Attila the Admin⭐
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
10,815
Location
Kennington, London
This very subject was featured late last night on Radio 5 (Matthew Bannister's show)...

It ended up with them wheeling out a Rabbi from New York, then coincidentally a Rabbi from Finchley pop up on another phone line... since another topic was minority languages nearing extinction they were trying to unearth someone who could speak a minority language... and these two ended up having a conversation in Hebrew... which is when I turned off. Since when is Hebrew on the way out?
rock.gif


Anyway, just thought I'd mention it.

Matthew Bannister: recommended for those who need help to drop off.
cool.gif
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,330
Location
The wilds of Kent
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Spaceman Spiff @ Feb. 03 2004,12:26)]Since when is Hebrew on the way out?  
rock.gif
It wasn't even spoken for 2,000 years. It's only just being brought back slowly into the Israeli community.

So Hebrew isn't exactly a major language.
 

The 4th man

First XI
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
362
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 03 2004,12:35)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Spaceman Spiff @ Feb. 03 2004,12:26)]Since when is Hebrew on the way out?  
rock.gif
It wasn't even spoken for 2,000 years. It's only just being brought back slowly into the Israeli community.

So Hebrew isn't exactly a major language.
But still not likley to die out (as pesky kids doing degree in languages are finiding out !)

Now Polary and Rom propably aren't spoken to much these days !
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
1,417
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Napster @ Feb. 02 2004,16:47)]Buddhists, Jews and Christians are trying to claim it as a representation of their faith.
Now let me get this right. Asking a small furry creature about the weather is the foundation of several religious faiths? Im I alone in finding this just a tad worrying?
 
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