Today is Groundhog Day. According to 19th century legend, if a groundhog emerges from his den today and sees his shadow, he'd better go back to sleep because Winter is going to last six more weeks.
An appropriate celebration of the occasion is to watch the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell and written and directed by the late Harold Ramis. Groundhog Day is that rare work of art that can be appreciated and enjoyed on either a completely superficial level, as a "romantic comedy," or on a deeply profound and spiritual level, commenting on how the repeating days of our journey through life gradually teach us how to live, how to be human, and how to truly love...and that we can't break free of the quotidian slog, the "trap" of life, and move on until we learn.
As a work of art its closest analog in literature is probably Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, another complex allegory that is superficially enjoyable as a tall tale but also touches on the meaning of life, redemption, and what matters about human connections.
The film was made in the town where I used to live, Woodstock, Illinois. The "hotel" in the movie is the Woodstock Opera House, where Paul Newman got his start with the Woodstock Players. The main stage is named for Orson Welles, who grew up in Woodstock.
I used to joke that people who think Groundhog Day is nothing but a "rom-com" should be forced to watch it over and over again until they can overlook the hijinks and connect with its profound meaning on a deeper level.
Happy Groundhog Day,
(Thanks to Jim Richardson)
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