about this blog

Just as the movie Groundhog Day has been a significant personal experience for so many of you, it has been umptiphimally personal for me. Can you imagine how large that is?

Welcome, my friends, to the Blogus groundhogus.

Three things are supposed to happen here. First, I will share with you what I know about all things groundhogological. As you will see, Groundhog Day has seeped into my life and touched all of its resident parts, including the screenwriter, the parent, the citizen, the, uh, dog owner, music lover, gearhead, etc.

Second, I invite you to tell me what you know – by answering queries (my “Human Experiments”, offering comments, or posting links to the library.

By sharing in this fashion I believe we will bring about the third thing: a powerful community – a veritable “Knob” of people – all touched by the movie, and perhaps seeing its echo in unexpected and interesting places. And, need I say, we are dedicated to using our collective power for goodness and not for badness.

In my personal Groundhog Day, I got to write a movie that still makes me feel good, and grateful, and proud, and optimistic, every day of my life.

Beat that.

21 Comments »

Comment by Al Long
2007-11-11 09:41:38

As a grateful fan of your movie I can barely imagine the satisfaction those of you who created “Groundhog Day” must feel. Thanks to every one of you.

I have a few topics to suggest for your discussion. I hope this is the correct spot for them. These questions or thoughts occurred to me the other day while chopping corn stalks on a cold November day. Five hours in the tractor seat gives a person time to mull things over.

1. Since Phil spent considerable time being “stuck” in the same day and in the same town, once he became “unstuck” would the opportunities, limitless possibilities, or even just the ability to change the things around him–would this new reality freak him out? It almost seems like it at the end of the movie when he says, “Let’s live here.”

2. In Phil’s daily reality there was little loss. Maybe the old man living on the street… or Buster choking on his steak… or the kid falling out of the tree… but even they were back again the next day. Everyone was there every morning. There was a tomorrow for them all. It makes you wonder why Phil tried to save or rescue them. They would be there safe and sound the next day. Was it to save them from pain and suffering? Or was it in case some day there might be a new day tomorrow?

3. What if instead of Phil’s day repeating it was Rita’s? She was already a generous, caring, and decent person. How would getting stuck in time change her? For the worse? Or would it just be a test of her character?

4. What if Phil finally woke up, not a day later–but two days earlier? Or, for that matter, a year earlier?

5. I’m a member of a screenwriter’s group and the discussion occasionally turns to which is more important to screenwriting–technical mastery or passion for the story and characters? Surely both are necessary, but if one were to be the dominant concern which one should it be?

6. What movies or books or other sources of inspiration are important to you?

While there are no particularly profound thoughts or questions here, I’d still enjoy your take on these things.

Comment by danny
2007-11-13 08:52:13

Al –
I have a lot to say about each and every one of these points, and would enjoy getting into a discussion with you and everybody else. I’ll likely be taking them on one at a time in the blog as each issue rises to the top. In the meantime, I’m grateful for your thoughtfulness and welcome your continued participation!
danny

 
 
Comment by Susan Isaacs
2007-11-12 19:50:38

Hi Danny

I had to laugh reading your essay on Al Anon. It was in an Al Anon meeting, which I was attending because of an alcoholic boyfriend, where I realized that my acting career was just another bad, abusive boyfriend. He reeled me in with flattery, promises, and nibbles. Then he used me, criticized, and neglected me. And just when I was ready to break up, he lured me back in with another nibble. Oh, I went back. And forth. And back. (To the career, not to the boyfriend.)

Until I finally decided to find a better “boyfriend:” a career where I was respected for my work, treated well and fairly, and where age would be an asset rather than a liability.

So I became a writer.

I’m back in Al Anon.

Thanks for making me laugh.

Comment by danny
2007-11-13 08:56:37

Susan –
no, thank YOU for making ME laugh! And thanks for validating my pov on al anon and Hwood.

The essays in the “Essays” section of my website are basically scribblings I found which pre-date the blog. I guess here is as good a place to comment on them as any, and I welcome anybody to go visit and then give me feedback here.

— danny

 
 
Comment by Scott
2008-02-18 14:01:45

MR Ruben Ireally injoy the Ground Hog day movie it was good

 
Comment by Scott
2008-02-18 14:08:44

i think its great the movie show romantic part and like at the weend where he fall in love with his producer it would melt a women heart in secound
becouse i was born on groundhog day and loved it

 
Comment by Kim
2008-03-03 18:05:20

I just finished watching the movie (again) and, this time, I focused on the notion that Phil only found peace when he did nothing but enjoy each moment — even though the moments were virtually exactly the same. Then, with contentment, he was able to feel comfortable.

I have been a big fan of the movie for a long time but have never celebrated. I will next year and let you know.

Kim

 
Comment by danny
2008-03-06 13:22:04

Thanks Kim. It’s kind of confusing to focus on living in the NOW while planning for next year’s party. Welcome to the ultimate human conundrum. Okay – one of them.

 
Comment by Douglas J. Bender
2009-02-05 16:42:57

I’ll start living in the “NOW” as soon as I can.

 
Comment by Douglas J. Bender
2009-02-12 11:37:59

Hello?

 
Comment by anthony
2009-04-19 04:42:55

I really appreciated the fact that you never concerned yourself with explaining how the ‘time loop’ occurred or was broken. Do you have any thoughts on that? Were there discussions on the matter?

Comment by danny
2009-04-19 06:25:40

After considering various possible Hollywood type reasons for the time loop – knowing the studio would expect such a thing – I decided that any choice would trivialize the story and make it about the device rather than about Phil’s existential crisis. So I left out an explanation and fought to keep it that way. As expected the studio told me to write an explanation. I said, “What, like a Gypsie curse???” THey said, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” Harold told me to go ahead and write it, he’d shoot it, then throw it away and they’d never miss it. In the end he never even shot it. Yay, Harold.

Comment by anthony
2009-04-20 18:28:17

It’s great that you did it your way.More pages for the good stuff! Let me join the countless congratulations on a near -perfect script and a timeless film.

 
 
 
Comment by Adrian Glamorgan
2010-01-09 17:02:05

Imagine this – I keep watching “Groundhog Day.” It turns me over and over. It struck a chord when it first came out and last night I showed it to my young teenage son and his friend and they loved it. But I’m not writing just to adulate; I want to convey the importance of this film as an existential document; a Buddhist fable; a message to and for our times. Perhaps being clever isn’t enough – unchecked it leads to pride and egotism; shifting to the heart makes new days achievable. It’s a marker for the eventual zeitgeist shift we need, when it will no longer be possible to build nuclear weapons, sell cigarettes, or exploit our nearest and dearest. Because it hurts us to do so. And so on.

As a writer who’s slipped along the way, it’s humbling to see the magnificence of “Groundhog” and wonder – where did it come from? Do you subscribe to the idea of the Muse? Was it an offhand moment that became a lifetime companion?

Most of all: appreciation for you having written this screenplay, followed it through its birthing, avoided the studio stereotyping of story, and now the keeper of its writerly memory.

 
Comment by Pakoffita
2010-08-26 02:31:50

Hello. Very interesting site and you lead a very interesting discussion. There is a nice atmosphere here and I’m sure I will often read your posts.
From time to time I will also try to write something interesting.

———————————————

Tapety Gry

 
Comment by nicolas k
2010-12-01 01:01:45

Last few days GHD has been playing quite a bit on television, and Ive gotten a chance to see it again in several sections at random times….an unusual way to watch a film.

I just would like to say one thing- that the dialogue in the film struck me as being so brilliant that, for the first time in my life, I was compelled to find out who wrote it. Its rare that a film makes an impression even after you’ve seen it several times before. Excellent!!

nicolas K

:::

sugardub.com
sugardub-post.blogspot.com
soundcloud.com/nico-k

 
Comment by Jesse Shulman
2010-12-20 11:00:45

I know it’s meant to be light-hearted, but Groundhog Day was, for me, most powerful as a philosophical text. The whole idea is based around the myth of Sisyphus, who is forced by the gods to push a boulder up a mountain each day only to have it roll back down and begin again the next morning. Because Albert Camus appropriated the myth as a metaphor for existence in 1942 with his essay, well, “The Myth of Sisyphus”, I began thinking that the film was an exploration of existentialist modes of being.

Our protagonist tries hedonism, tries altruism, tries suicide – nothing works. The painful journey up the mountiain returns with a stinging alarm sound each morning. It’s only when he re-focuses on self-improvement that he learns piano and ice carving, gets the girl, and helps people without trying to save *everyone*. When we focus our existence on self-improvement, that’s when we can stop pushing the rock up the hill. Am I completely misreading your intent or was that intentional?

I’m applying to Harvard, so hopefully we can discuss in person next year in your screenwriting course!

Cheers,
Jesse Shulman

Comment by danny
2010-12-20 19:22:26

Jesse,
Good call on Sisyphus. I even read the Camus version in French many years ago, but it wasn’t until I read an English translation that I realized I don’t really understand French.
There is definitely an existential flavor to this movie and the Sisyphus analogy is one good way to look at it. My own interest is less about self-improvement, and more generally about the phenomenon of how changing yourself can change your world. I’m also interested in how the repetitions themselves caused the changes in Phil.
But we can talk more about this when you get to Harvard. Good luck to you!

–Danny

 
 
Comment by Ashley Stearns
2011-02-14 18:03:29

Happy (belated) birthday, Danny. Hey – are you really in Brookline now? I’m across the river, in the People’s Republic of.

 
Comment by Matt
2012-01-14 21:53:09

Hi Danny,

I’m sure you get this all of the time (including the start of this sentence: ‘I’m sure you get this all of the time’ …), but how long is Phil stuck in Feb. 2nd? Did you have a determinate amount of time in mind when writing it? Or is it supposed to be left up to the viewer?

Thanks!
Matt

 
Comment by Will Hogoboom
2014-02-24 16:56:26

Hi Danny,

I have been telling my family and friends this story, and I thought it was time to tell you.

“Groundhog Day” is my favorite movie and favorite story. For 20 years I marveled at the thought of a time loop where I could do anything with no consequences. Or where I would have endless time to learn how to do things that I think are impossible, for instance playing the piano.

However, about 3 months ago I realized what I cared most about the movie was Phil’s realization that he loved Rita and wanted her to love him, and he could only win Rita’s love by being caring and compassionate. I decided at that moment in my life that I would be very careful to notice things my wife likes or doesn’t like, and then make a mental list (like Phil) and do those things, or not do those things.

For example, Nadine (that’s my wife of 26 years) has always complained when I poured old cold coffee back in the pot to warm it up. #1 on my list is “do not pour old coffee back in the pot.” #2 is run disposal for egg shells IMMEDIATELY (don’t leave old shells in the sink). I have a list of about 10 do’s and don’ts. I’m always on the lookout for new items for the list.

I read your book about how to write GHD, and I agree with your synopsis, “This is about a mature pursuit of love, which he finds impossible until he stops only living for today.” You can plug my name into that sentence.

Thank you,
Will Hogoboom

 
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