Imagine having one of the worst days of your life – everything is going wrong, you are thoroughly annoyed with everything and everyone, and you can’t wait for this day to end. Now what if you wake up the next morning, and find out that you have to go through that same day all over again? And what if this would keep repeating itself…?
In the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors is a nasty, egocentric, sarcastic and selfish weatherman of a local TV station in Pittsburg who thinks he is Mr. Perfect. He doesn’t like his job, his colleagues, or most other people for that matter. As he puts it: people are morons. All he cares about is himself and his happiness. When he is sent to a small town called Punxsutawney to report a local tradition of a groundhog predicting how much longer the winter will last, there is only one thing on his mind: finishing the job and leaving that small town with its simple people as soon as possible.
It turns out to be one of the worst days of his life, and finally he is not even able to leave the town, due to an unexpected blizzard. When he wakes up the next morning, eager to go back to Pittsburg, he realizes that everything is the same as the day before – he is going through the same day all over again! The days that follow, he keeps reliving the same day over and over again… something that reminds one of the philosophy of Karma and Reincarnation! And there is more…
Initially Phil panics. He decides to go see a psychiatrist, who tells him: “This is an unusual problem Mr. Connors. I think we should meet again. How is tomorrow for you?” at which words Phil becomes even more depressed.
Getting drunk at a local pub, he wonders out loud: “I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl; we ate lobster and drank piña coladas. At sunset we made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t I get THAT day, over and over again?!” He then asks one of the local guys: “What would you do, if you are stuck in one place, and every day is exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered? What if there were no tomorrow?” The guy answers: “That would mean there would be no consequences, we could do whatever we wanted!” Suddenly Phil’s face clears up. “That’s true! We could do whatever we want!”
From this point onwards, Phil stops following the rules and does whatever he wants. It doesn’t matter if he ends up in jail or worse, as he again wakes up in his hotel on the same day. He gives in to all his fantasies, and starts learning from previous experiences, not making the same mistakes over and over again. Just like in the ancient scriptures, this story shows a mind, or soul, going through repetitive existence, experiencing the same world over and over again, and in the process exhausting all its karma or past impressions. Whatever desires, cravings and aversions are there, are all lived through and experienced until one becomes satisfied, contented, or simply realizes their impermanence. This happens when Phil realizes that he has fallen in love with Rita, a kind female producer from his TV network that came with him to Punxsutawney. He has now lost taste for any other enjoyments. A similar thing happens to a spiritual seeker who has found his Master, or Guru. Being the most attractive, the Master becomes a lightning rod for all the disciple’s longing – it is the last desire, the desire that removes the taste for all other desires. And finally, this last desire is also dropped, and one becomes free.
Using different approaches, Phil tries to get Rita to fall in love with him, but every time he ends up getting slapped in the face! Over time, he becomes desperate, because whatever he tries is not working. He becomes depressed and starts committing suicide in many different ways, trying to end this repetitive existence. But every morning he wakes up in the same hotel again on the same day.
When he realizes that there is nothing he can do to alter his situation, something changes. He starts becoming a nice and caring person, helping out wherever he can. He has dropped the one last desire! In the end he becomes a ‘perfect’ guy, available to help anyone at any time, humble and caring. That night, Rita stays with him to keep him company. Phil tells her: “No matter what happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now.” This is the final destination of a spiritual seeker: accepting one’s place in the bigger picture, without any personal needs, one starts serving the society and the world in whatever way one can, being totally dispassionate and fulfilled. And once this beautiful state of fullness dawns, one becomes free from the cycle of repetitive birth and death, Samsara.
When Phil wakes up the next morning, he finds Rita is still there with him. Full of surprise, he tells her: “Do you know what today is? Today is tomorrow!” He is finally free. And then he asks her: “Is there anything I can do for you, today?”
Do let us know if you also enjoyed watching Groundhog Day and what else you discovered in this movie! And stay tuned for more movie reviews in the upcoming weeks… 🙂