The 1993 movie Groundhog Day narrates the life of Phil Connors. The protagonist, portrayed by Bill Murray, is an egotistical weather-forecaster who is given the duty of covering Groundhog Day in a small town. What intrigued The Times about this cinema was not its extravaganza of dignified Swedish cinema but its commencement story, 1993 motion picture Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day has become an iconic fixture in mainstream culture, where the term ‘groundhog day’ is now used to define a repeating situation in government and military arenas. More importantly however, is the message which it sends to the audience about the meaning of life, where through the protagonist’s journey to self-improvement, the film emphasises the importance of happiness in considering the needs of others, as opposed to placing importance on one’s own selfish desires.
The events of the movie gains momentum from February 2nd, where Phil Connors (Bill Murray) wakes up at 6 o’clock in the morning and proceeds through his day, and at the end of it, turns in for the night. The next day, he wakes up at dawn, and to his incredulity, the events evolve precisely as they had the earlier day. The following day, the episodes of the previous day repeats itself again. The protagonist soon realises that he is stuck in a time loop, where regardless of his actions – whether that be driving a truck off a cliff, jumping off a bell tower, or standing in front of a moving truck- Phil continues to wake up the following morning, uninjured and reminiscing the events of February 2nd once again.
Initially, when Phil realises he will relive the same day without any aftermath, he entertains himself, through engaging in anti-social, illegal and hedonistic behaviour. He robs, is savage toward others and seduces ladies. He eventually begins to feel unfulfilled and annoyed with this habitual activity, and is worried he will never be able to evade this circumstance. This leads him to becoming enraged. After this phase dwindles, he agrees to accept and welcome his circumstance, eventually learning to appreciate it. Soon, he learns how to play the piano like a master, becomes fluent in foreign languages and gains the ability to craft ice sculptures with a chainsaw.
As the same day keeps on repeating itself over and over again, the once snobbish man drops his self-centred personality and works towards enhancing his life and those around him. Phil takes thoughtful significance in the lives of those in his society, comes to support a beggar, protects a child falling from a tree, and saves a man from choking on his food. Phil learns to accept life and falls in love with his news producer. Next, the movie shows how, given the hope to rerun this day over and over again, Phil had many decisions. And in the end, after draining the options that upset himself and others, he chose to love himself and those around him. At this point, he is mystically released from the infinite time loop.
Thus, in the beginning, Groundhog Day appears to be an entirely charming comedy, but when we dig below its whimsical skin, we comprehend that it resembles a compelling message, where it illustrates the transformation of the main character from narcissistic and ironic, to generous and optimistic.
When Phil understands that there are no consequences to his lifestyle anymore, he encounters modern philosophy’s freedom from endless authority. He proudly announces that he will no longer play by their rules. Phil’s reaction exemplified Glaucon’s debate in Plato’s Republic.
Phil demonstrates those actions accurately by stealing money from a bank without any second thoughts, punching an insurance agent and seducing a woman. To Phil’s disappointment, this “living on the edge” lifestyle is no longer fulfilling. This brings him closer to Rita, his gorgeous colleague, and love interest. To Phil, Rita is valuable as a pearl of great price. At this point in the movie, the inevitable question which comes to our mind is, “what will it take to achieve true satisfaction?”
Phil’s second attempt to win Rita perfidies his virtuous instincts. Phil tries with great effort to be virtuous and charming to Rita so that she falls for him. So, Phil goes beyond boundaries to learn about Rita’s dreams and desires and ends up receiving slaps in the face every night rather than approval of his proposal. Here, we get to learn that love cannot be bought with ingenuity or money.
Phil’s defeat leads to distress, where he tries to commit suicide over and over again. Yet no matter how many times he leaps off a building or electrocutes himself, he still wakes up to another February 2nd. Phil committed suicide so many times that he feels like he does not exist anymore, which remind us of a particular line from Saint Augustine’s Confessions: “I went far from you, my God, and I became to myself a wasteland.”
With nowhere else to go, Phil focusses on himself and starts to enjoy life again. Phil starts to chase excellence, not for any ulterior motive but because he loves it. In good spirits, he develops great moral righteousness (e.g. saving a choking man), scholarly virtues (reading Chekhov), and proficiency in music (playing the piano). After gaining those skills, Phil starts to become happy, as he is now knowing, doing and loving the good.
We can also see that there is a spiritual aspect to Phil’s transformation. Part of his personality change recognizes that there is a God and he is not it. After his failure to take his own life, he thinks of himself as a God, more like a “prosthetic God” someone who “makes the weather” through his knowledge of science. Later, he tries to persuade Rita that he is God, which to Rita is a false claim as she mentions in the movie that she has studied in a Catholic school for twelve years. This is the only time in the movie where religion is clearly mentioned.
Nevertheless, Phil’s belief fades away when he is compelled to witness the inescapable death of an old beggar whose life he frequently tries to save. We get to see that he is kneeling down in this final subplot, futilely performing CPR to the beggar who is ready to go to heaven. After witnessing the death of the beggar, Phil confesses God as creator by uttering the verse, “Only God can make a tree,” where Phil is shown to believe that God alone is the Lord of life and death.
This realisation and acceptance of a higher power leads to a reward in the last day of the cycle. Rita is impressed by Phil’s new character. At a fundraising event, Phil is auctioned as an eligible bachelor where he is targeted by many women with many offers. Among these women, Rita places the highest bid by investing all she has on Phil, outbidding everyone else. Rather than Phil buying the pearl with all he has, the pearl buys him for everything she has. Like forgiveness, Rita comes to Phil as a holy gift from Heaven. She later tells him, “You’re mine; I own you”.
It is only after this atonement that Phil and Rita wake up the next day on February the 3rd. The cursed phase of living the same life over and over again has been broken by a love made of purity, and the couple is now free to live happily ever after. Now that the cycle is broken by the fulfilment of love and devotion rather than the recklessness of it, the tale cannot be taken as an apologue for Eastern religious thought. Therefore, it is a rebuttal rather than an advocacy of Nietzsche because this “eternal” repetition is abolished by love and classical honour.
So, what is Phil Connor’s issue? It is his bad habits and immoral ways that draw away from and dwindles his God-given graciousness. In Saint Augustine’s terms, “shadows are deprivation of light, and evil and vice are a hardship of the good.” Thus, the equation of shadow with vice is two separate equations.
Many of us who have watched this film may be struggling in life. Perchance we are dealing with addictions, unhealthy relationships, or negative thought patterns that have led to discouragement or depression. Some of us may be overpowered by anxiety or aspiration. We want our fears to go away, or we may wish our ambitions will be fulfilled. In both cases, these emotions lead to misfortune.
Life surprises us with immense transitions. For example, someone is on their way back home after work every day and drinking unreasonably for years. Getting rid of that habit would most likely obligate a great amount of struggle. Or if that person is a drudge their entire adult life and understands that burden and suffering are making themselves wretched, slowing down will presumably not be simple. Then there are tiny alterations, where we may have endless concerns. They may be so understated that even people who know a person may not believe they have them. Slowly we can work towards letting these fade away. It does not matter whether the adjustments we carry out are big or small, as long as we cultivate an open mind and constantly invest time in our developments, we can continue to upgrade our lives until the day we pass away.
I believe life is like a school or university, if we perform abnormally well in our classes, we go on to graduate. But if we fail, we have to repeat our classes again.
None of us actually know for certain what happens to us after we die as there is no evidence of an afterlife. For millions of years, humankind has produced myths and concepts that describe the last stage of our lives. Thus, close to death encounters, after-death communications and forms have clarified the afterlife. But until each of us reaches that level in our lives, we will not know exactly what happens. Therefore, I will not tackle the topic of the afterlife in this essay but will ask a question, “What if someone is caught in the same limitless phase as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day?”
To analyse this question, let us first think about the bell curve. I will use measures of wit to define how this works. For example, the average IQ of a given population is 100. When this is presented in a bell-curve graph, a line begins flat on the left side, curves upwards in the centre, and falls flat again. The appearance of the entire graph is like a bell where the middle stands for the highest number of people. In this description, the centre represents those who have around 100 IQ. Those that have an IQ lower than 100 and beyond 100 are outside of the bell curve. In my opinion, if we were to justify affection and ethical brilliance in our society, we would follow a comparable bell curve. Most people fall in the mediocre range of hysterical and humane wit. On the outer extremes, we would have a public who have very little ethical brilliance on one end and ethical giants on the other.
In my country, most people of mediocre ethical and emotional brilliance who have their basic economic needs give very little importance on finding the answers to life’s biggest questions. I remember once having a debate with a person. Within our debate, we mooted the topic of why we are here on Earth and what our purpose is.
Undeniably, many people do not have the interest to pay attention to their lives. People tend to work really hard and once they reach home, are too exhausted to deal with the relevance of their existence. To pursue comfort, they like to watch television, shop online, or socialise on their cell phones. To them, these activities may be innocuous, if you are still reading this essay, you are seemingly keener in developing your passion and virtuous intellect rather than getting trapped in patterns and routine that read like the procedures written on the back of a product.
Our universe is very complex, and there are so many things that we do not know about it. What we know so far is that its existence has been around for a very long time, about 14 billion years. Therefore, scientists have advanced explanations of quantum mechanics and one of these is called the multiverse. One clear theorem of this developing theory is there are many other universes besides our own. In other words, there are many other planets, galaxies and universes that go on and on into infinity, displaying concepts beyond our imaginations. Only a few people on the planet believe that the end of our life’s journey is death. Meanwhile, the majority of the people believe our biological lives on Earth do not signal the end. While many religions across the globe have named this next stage differently than others who may not label it anything at all, most of us accept in the probability that the life of mankind does not end at death. So what if, akin to Groundhog Day, one justification of what transpires after we perish is we repeat the cycle of life? If that is the case, then life is like a school or university. If we perform abnormally well in our classes, we go on to graduate. But if we fail, we have to repeat our classes again.
By respecting the magnitude and youth of the universe, the multiverse scheme, and the baffling of infinity, there is a cogent possibility that, like Phil Connors, we are granted multiple opportunities to encounter events repeatedly until we suppress our human existence.
When we confront complications and rough patches, grief may set in, we may feel helpless. The phase we go through and the pain we feel may seem meaningless. But instead of giving up, managing a Groundhog Day attitude alters our perspective. In my point of view, we are inspired to invest in advancement and self-development because if we do not overcome the barriers now, we will be provided with the opportunity to do so later. Our life and all the events in it have a meaning. The consequences of those events are the teachers that inspire us to learn from our mistakes, so why would we linger to upgrade our lives when we can do so in the present?
The life struggles we are dealing with may seem invincible, which may lead us to retirement, we can learn from the experiences of those who have come before us: historic figures and present-day people, all born with the same humanlike abilities and weaknesses, who have overpowered obstacles and have gone on to lead joyful and harmonious lives. From my perspective, through their example, we can tell that change is a possibility. By watching them we can be persistent on being these extraordinary beings full of knowledge and optimism. By taking a Groundhog Day approach to life, we live in each moment. Everyone is an active participant in their lives unfolding before them. We all realize that we are frequently being offered favourable circumstances to develop, find aspiration and significance, and experience tranquillity and delight in our lives.
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