Today is Groundhog Day and I just watched it as part of a 24hr run at Liverpool’s Small Cinema. I haven’t seen it in years.
The film is different to how I remember. I remember the comedy death scenes. The cute groundhog. Bill Murray trying to score with Andie McDowell in various funny ways. It’s a romantic comedy with some time looping on the side. It’s classic Bill Murray. That’s what I remember anyway. The film I saw today wasn’t the film I remember watching. I guess that’s time for you. It changes you so when you relive the same day many years later you’re a different person.
The film opens with weatherman Bill Murray. He’s good at acting on TV but I think it’s clear that he’s got issues before the time loop of Groundhog Day drives him nuts. He thinks he should be further along in his career than he actually is. It’s made him bitter, sarcastic, mean and a dick. To add insult to injury every year for the past 3, sorry 4 years he is sent to Small Town USA where they believe a groundhog is able to predict how long winter will last. Woo yay psychic fracking groundhogs. Job done they leave but the weather is so bad they turn back and spend the night in Small Town USA. He sleeps and wakes and it’s Groundhog Day over and over again. Sound familiar? It’s the plot of an episode of Xena, Stargate SG1 or Star Trek TNG. Take your pick. What differs from Groundhog Day the film and those other shows is that Groundhog Day is a film about a man clearly in denial about suffering from depression who is then beaten down by life over and over and over. Every day is agony. Every day he hates people, fails at being a person and fails at life. He snaps and drives off a cliff taking the groundhog with him. He dies. He wakes. It’s Groundhog Day. Eventually he is freed and is a better person for his suffering.
His suffering. Someone worked out that he probably spent 33 years trapped in the time loop bubble. 33. He spent 33 years trying to deal with his world. He was roughly 42 when he went in. So he was 75 when he came out. For us normal people who are travelling through time at the normally suggested rate of 1 second per second that means we may be happy in our 70s. We may get over depression, or at least have worked out how to deal with it by then. Um… Yay? I do not want to be 75 when I’ve got this life thing figured out. I want to be 38. I’m 37.5 now.
I didn’t find this film very funny when I re-watched it. If I wanted to show someone what it’s like to be seriously depressed I would say watch this film. It’s not a comedy. He’s trapped. He can’t tell anyone what’s really going on because they’ll see him differently. People won’t care anyway. It won’t do any good. It’s all in his head right? Days, weeks, months and years go by being beaten by this world and like anyone with severe depression the only logical cause of action is to kill yourself. It makes perfect sense at the time. If you were in Bill Murrary’s shoes you would also come to that same conclusion. No-one cares. No-one will understand. There is no hope. Tomorrow is the same as today. I can’t take life anymore. I quit.
It’s all ok though because it’s a comedy movie. It’s a Bill Murray comedy movie. That funny man from Ghostbusters? Yeah it’s him. He’s funny. Haha look at the little groundhog. I sat in a cinema filled with people all laughing at Bill and groundhog Phil. People will have thought about the fun they could have if they were in that movie. They will have sat at home with a beer thinking about the comedy hijinks they would have got up to. But some people will have had tears in their eyes at the desperation and beaten Bill Murray. For some people the film will have been all too familiar and too much to bear. For some people every day is a loop of despair. Some people just want out because the idea of spending 40 years developing the skills to deal with it is just too damn much.
There are no life lessons that I can pass on from watching this film. There’s no list of 13 creative activities Bill Murray used to fight depression in Groundhog Day. This is just me seeing a film in a new light thanks to the passage of time. There are many people living their own personal hell of Groundhog Day and like the film shows there’s no quick way out. Even suicide is no way out. When you realise the horror of just how long he’s been trapped it casts a different light on the film and you go “Oh.” For some people that’s just every day life. Depression traps you. It keeps you trapped in your own little world away from friends, away from the future you want, away from life. All you can do is try and beat it one day at a time. Am I right or am I right? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right?