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Groundhog Day

The true theme of Groundhog Day is to observe the world around you and to make best of it while it is available. While a complex notion, the film accomplishes this through depicting the change of Phil Connors (Bill Murray), a pessimistic, derisive, and acerbic weatherman. Phil begins the film ordinarily enough, he works for a TV station in Pittsburgh, where is regrettably assigned to the annual Groundhog Day Festival in nearby small town Punxsutawney, an assignment Connors considers beneath him.

His new producer (Andie MacDowell) the optimistic and attractive Rita, and his bumbling cameraman Larry (Chris Elliot), who serve as victims to Connors’ arrogance, negativity and grumpy attitude, accompany Connors on his trip. Connors attitude only becomes more aggravated as the local Groundhog legend, Punxsutawney Phil, declares six more weeks of winter and Connors, Rita, and Larry become stranded in Punxsutawney because of an oncoming blizzard. It is the next morning, however, in which the movie turns towards the surreal, as Connors wakes up in his bed to the same morning DJ bantering about the excitement over Groundhog Day.

Confused, Phil goes about his day, shocked that everyone he encounters believes its Groundhog Day all over again. Connors is the only one with the sense of deja vu, but he goes about his day, realizing events happen in similar sequence as the day before. The early Phil, in contradiction to how he matures over the film demonstrates to the importance of the theme. The film continues with Phil Connors waking each morning repeating the same miserable Groundhog Day repeatedly.

After he comes to accept that the day will repetitively repeat for reasons beyond his control, Phil runs the gamut of emotions. First, he takes advantage of the situation, using it to seduce attractive women or learn intimate details of peoples’ lives (to use later). As the film reveals more of how Phil spends each day, he begins to realize how much of a cranky man he really comes across as and his seemingly infinite time in this alternate universe gives him plenty of time to come to terms with the reasons behind his negative attitude.

Herein lays the point of the film, which suggests, through following Phil, that one should make the best of their situations, to listen and respect people (rather than manipulate) and to help society wherever you see room. By the films conclusion, Phil has morphed into a man who is proactive, he learns to play the piano, spends he time saving children and assisting disabled drivers, people whose needs he learns to become aware of, and assist in future, repeated encounters. In the end, Phil uses these traits to win the affection of Rita not through trickery, but through genuine charm.

This finally breaks the Groundhog Day trap, as Phil finally wakes up, with Rita, on February 3rd. 2. How do all of the separate elements of the film relate to and contribute to the theme, central purpose, or total effect? (Narrative, Acting, Cinematography, Editing, Art Direction and Design) Murray’s acting throughout the whole ordeal is realistically mannered, in that, his demeanor seems realistically cynical, mildly confused and angered by his situation, yet also overwhelmed by it.

Murray’s moments of over the top acting are in tune his character Phil, who fights mild depression and momentary bouts of craziness in reaction to his never-ending Groundhog Day. However, Phil grows desperate in situation, especially after he realizes that even suicide cannot save him from his repetitive torment, as he simply wakes up the next morning to the same annoying DJ banter and Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You, Babe. ” The editing, art direction and design, like the acting, is more or less natural. Most of the film is well lit, shot at natural front on angles, with crisp, fluid editing.

The film deviates from this in the moments of Phil’s immense depression, as if to further demonstrate his mood. As he contemplates (and commits) suicide over and over, the lighting becomes grim, the sound cuts out briefly and the film rolls in slow motion, to emphasize the grim nature of Phil’s psyche. However, these elements vanish once Phil comes to accept his situation and to make the most of it. The Art Design is subtle, but Punxsutawney is consistently portrayed as a small town, simple minded, slow moving town, which only serves as another catalyst to the cranky, big city, Phil.

The contrasts of Punxsutawney with the opening shots of Pittsburgh cement how different this setting is for Phil, which makes his final claim of looking into moving to Punxsutawney even more poignant. 3. What scenes in the film show the director’s style and how do they show it? Harold Ramis, who directed Groundhog Day, reveals his direction style throughout the entirety of the film, primarily, subtle, calm, realistic direction, with mild excursions into the hallucinatory or farce-like comedy.

Most of the film is simple demonstrations of the cranky Phil in contradiction to the happy-go-lucky disposition of those around him. The humor comes from farcical moments (Murray scalding himself in the shower, Murray giving radical, over-the-top rants on live TV) to the more over the top (humongous alarm clocks that signal the doomful start of another day, or Murray driving manically with Punxsutawney Phil as they careen off a cliff into a fiery crash).

Since the premise allows for these moments of surreal humor, Ramis films them, but always with an element of reality behind them. After all, a majority of the film’s humor comes from experiencing with Phil the subtle changes day to day, the repetitiveness of peoples’ conversations, and other subtle human interactions that make up most the movie. 4. What were your personal reactions to the film? What are your personal reasons for liking or disliking the film?

I really enjoyed Groundhog Day, I think it is a fantastic film that managed to tell a new, different story, yet retain elements of a romantic comedies and unexplained magical realism. There is never an explanation of why Phil is stuck in a time warp or how he can escape, rather it is a natural growing and learning process that the audience encounters along with Phil, and I enjoy this element. The film does not condescend to its audience, but invites them to encounter the same experience as Phil, as unrealistic as it is.

This is a movie that uses surreal elements to accentuate the notions that everyone is trapped in their own lives, and the best recourse to this is to make the most out of it. The positive message and interesting story twist, coupled with subtle humor and real life qualities of Phil, Larry and Rita make Groundhog Day a thoroughly enjoyable film that I could watch over and over (and over, and over, and over…) ? Work Cited: Groundhog Day. Dir. Harold Ramis. Perfs. Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott. 1993. DVD. “Special Edition” DVD. 2002.

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