Understanding History of Film: Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited


In production, development and contextualization of films, so much has changed over time and even movies of the same genre have their differences. With the emergence of technology as one of the factors necessitating a change in the film industry, so many other elements have changed in film making, including camera types and quality, lightings and even circumstances. Therefore to appreciate the importance of film, it is essential to study and understand it. This paper will show the importance of understanding film history by comparing two movies, a fantasy comedy (Groundhog Day) from 1993 and a science fiction comedy (Happy Death Day 2 U) a movie of 2019.

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In Groundhog Day film, Phil is stuck in a time loop reliving the same day multiple of times until the circle is broken at the end of the film. At some point, Phil thinks he is a God since he has survived numerous deaths and seems to know everything. In happy death day two you, Ryan wakes up in his car twice on Tuesday 19th after being killed by someone dressed in a babyface. After explaining his Deja Vu experience to Tree and carter, Tree explains her experience in reliving Monday 18th, and both carter and Tree decide to help Ryan break the loop. Still, in the process, the force of the quantum creates a new dimension in which Tree is now stuck on.

These two films may be very different in several aspects, but one thing remains constant, and that is the fact that people are stuck in a time loop where they die multiple time and wake up on the same day again and again. In Groundhog Day, ‘the film is quite comical since Phil makes fun with the idea of him being immortal while in Happy Death 2 U is quite horrific due to the babyface mask man who seem to be stabbing people to death’ (‘Groundhog Day (1993)’). The lighting, camera effects, characters, costumes and music are very different in the two films showing the journey that the film aking has taken over time since Groundhog Day to Happy Death 2 U. Groundhog day has been classified as one of the best comedy films. It has even been added to the United States National Film Registry as it has been deemed significant. Therefore, understanding the history of a movie makes one appreciate the process; the fact that Groundhog is an old film compared to Happy Death 2 U does not make is less significant.

In Groundhog Day, the Phil and Rita are living the life of the 1990s while in Happy Deathday 2 u, the cast is living the 2019 experience. ‘These are inevitable changes in film such that a film has to be relevant during the time it is filmed, from the story to the costumes’ (Aufderheide 2). Therefore, things like costumes and storyline have to be different even in films of the same genre since times are different. The theme and storyline remain constant that is the time loop and multiple deaths walking up without a scratch, but different people have told it. 1990s life was changed, from areas of entertainment to ways of courting a girl to become one’s girlfriend. In 2019, parties and beer are the order of the day, and it does not take much is such a situation for a guy to make a girl home.

In the introduction of the film Happy Death 2 U, Ryan lives with his roommate Carter and is also a science genius making a quantum with two of his friends. ‘Tree is a party girl who gets wasted and is taken home by carter, which is a calm and caring young man’ (‘Happy Death Day 2U (2019)’). In this era, this is normal and relevant, girls are getting wasted in clubs and go home with one of their friends, and the roommate has to probably spend the night in another friends house or his car. The introduction tells the story of regular college students living normally before the time loop disentangles their life. Phil in Groundhog day is a weatherman journalist trying to impress Rita so hard to accept him since he is in love with him but ends up waking up aline every morning since Rita has not allowed him yet.

Technological changes have also influenced some of the changes that are witnessed in films such as color, lights, camera, effects, runtime and aspect ratio. In the Groundhog Day, the movie is colored (Technicolor) and uses a Panavision panaflex camera with a 1: 85: 1 aspect ratio. In the Happy Death Day 2 U movie, ‘the film is colored using Arri Alexa Minni cameras with a 2: 35: 1 ratio’ (‘Happy Death Day 2U (2019)’). Therefore, this means that the picture resolution of happy death day two you is better, the images are more explicit, and one would enjoy watching them on a laptop or television. If a movie is produced today with the same aspects as Groundhog was created with, then no one would bother watching, since those aspects are not appealing now, but they were the best in 1993. To appreciate this transition in the production of films, then one has to understand the history of film and know how it was 20 years ago and what has changed within those years.

The characters in these two films are very different, including their costumes. ‘Phil is dressed in a suit, a trench-coat and scarf since its almost winter while Rita dresses in oversize skirts and courts and puts her hair on a push back’ (‘Groundhog Day (1993)’). On the other side, Ryan wears on sweat pants and stylish T-shirts, Tree on tight trousers with fancy tops, and so is Carters. The differences in their costumes are generational since what was worn in 1993 cannot be fashionable in 2019. Happy Death Day 2 U cast are young college kids who are living life to their fullest and staying in dorms while the main characters in Groundhog day are grown-ups and employed people who have to take responsibility of their lives.

Whenever a film creator decides to make a movie, then his or her central idea is the needs and reactions of the intended audience of the film. ‘Therefore, understanding the history of cinema is not only crucial for the audience but also the creators of movies’ (Scot Alan Metzger 1). The audience needs to know why there are changes in their favorite genres of films, and the creators need to understand how to create an exciting movie in a specific timeline. For instance, horrific drama films 100 years ago involved dinosaurs and vampires, but it would be irrelevant today. Now filmmakers use metahumans things that people can relate to science. Besides films being fictions, the fiction has to be relevant to the audience not presenting a movie with an outright lie or impossibility.


Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day are tow very similar films in the fact that both films involve reliving a time loop. However, they also have differences among them varying from the cast, costumes and even the production aspects of the movie. However, for an individual to appreciate the journey of the film industry and value, then it is essential to revisit and watch both films. To recognise and acknowledge success behind happy Death Day 2 U, then one has to have a background on a movie such as Groundhog day.

Works Cited

  1. Aufderheide, Patricia. ‘Why Study Film History? I Came to Learn the Craft!’ International Documentary Association, 25 Sept. 2016, Accessed 14 Nov. 2019.’
  2. ‘Groundhog Day (1993).’ IMDb, 12 Feb. 1993,
  3. Scott Alan Metzger. ‘Are Movies a Good Way to Learn History?’ The Conversation, 16 May 2017,

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