Wednesday, November 13, 2013

i'm reliving the same day over and over

I must admit an ulterior motive for what follows; despite arguments I have made against the explicit link between Groundhog Day and Christianity (and more along the lines of my two day exploration of Phil Connors as Christ-figure), I might be writing a paper soon exploring the cinematic Christ-figure with Groundhog Day as one of my central texts if not my only text. So, today, I aim to fashion a response to my day count from Day 3 of this blog. The official onscreen day count here at The Groundhog Day Project was 33, later amended to be 34... actually, I have been thinking about that backward. I had it at 34 then amended it down to 33. And, 33 is already related to Christ, since that's how old he was when he died. But, I'm going to go ahead with today's entry anyway, because it just might be fun. Today's goal is to justify expanding the day count to 40 to get another biblical aspect to the film to go along with Phil's 22/25 score as a cinematic Christ-figure.

So, there's the obvious Day 1, in which Phil does his initial report, then the van gets stuck by the blizzard.

Day 2 has Phil freaking out a bit and it ends with him breaking the pencil.

I realize I can't justify altering the first few days at all, really, because they play quite explicitly in order. Day 3, Phil walks off Gobbler's Knob, talks to Rita in the Tip Top Cafe, sees the neurologist and the psychiatrist and hangs out at the bowling alley with Ralph and Gus. This day ends with Phil in a jail cell.

Day 4 begins with Phil excited about the prospects of the time loop. He kisses Mrs. Lancaster, he punches Ned, and we get our second Tip Top Cafe scene. This is one point where there could be a break in the action. The Tip Top Cafe scene with all the food could conceivably be the next day. That would give us a plus one.

Day 5 has to be the day with Nancy because Phil is using the information he got at the Tip Top the day before. If there were any intervening days, he'd have even more information on Nancy than "Lincoln Walsh Pittsburgh." He doesn't, so this is Day 5 (or now 6).

Day 6 Phil robs the armored truck. The obvious assumption is that he gets the fancy car with that money, so his date with Laraine is that very night. But, it doesn't have to be. I think we could go for a plus one here as well.

Days 7 to 10 in my original count are date night leading up to the snowball fight and Rita going to Phil's room, culminating in her slapping him. But, there's a possibility of an extra day in between the Tip Top Cafe scene and the candy shop scene on Day 7. So, consider a plus one here as well.

Day 11 is when date night gets weird with Phil trying too hard. Phil gets slapped again, then Days 12 to 18 give us seven more slaps. Though I am trying to add more days, I still don't think Phil is stupid enough to get himself slapped twice in one night.

Day 19 Rita says Phil looks terrible. Then we get an alarm clock shot or Jeopardy! could be the same day. Instead, that's Day 20.

Day 21 Phil calls the people of Punxsutawney “hypocrites."

Days 22 to 24 Phil breaks his alarm clock. Stealing Punxsutawney Phil could be on the last of these, or it could be a new day. So, a possible plus one here.

Day 25 to 27 Phil kills himself.

On god day, Phil tells Rita that he's been "stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned." We've seen electrocution, but assuming Phil is telling the truth, this gives us an easy plus six. That puts us well past forty days, actually, but I'll keep going anyway.

Day 28 by the old count is god day.

Day 29 Phil gives O'Reilly money and picks up coffee and pastries. There is no cue for a new day before we see him reading at the counter at the Tip Top or heading off to his first piano lesson, but there's also no reason we couldn't think either of these is a whole new day. So, plus two.

Day 30 Phil inspires Chubby Man. Then, he's got a piano lesson and is seen ice sculpting. These could both be new days, so plus two.

Day 31 Phil has another piano lesson. His hugging Ned could be on this day or a new one, and his taking O'Reilly to the hospital could be on this day or another one. So, plus two.

Day 32 by the old count, Phil gets O'Reilly some food at the Tip Top. And, though we could assume O'Reilly dying in the alley is the same day, it doesn't have to be. So, plus one.

Day 33 by the old count was the last resumption, Phil's good deed day that finally gets him out of the time loop because of time lord Buster's sonic gavel.

Scrolling up, I see new potential days on Days 4, 6, and 7, another on Day 24, another six new days before Day 28, two new days each after Days 29, 30, and 31, and another new day after Day 32. That gives us a total of 17 new days. Added to the 33 we had before, that gets us all the way to 50, more jubilee than Christ in the desert, but still with some biblical resonance. Pick and choose the new days and I could justify just 40, I suppose...

I'm curious about some structural stuff with the new day counts. For example, Phil gorges on food on Day 4 on the 33-day scale, Day 5 on the 50-day scale. He feeds O'Reilly on Day 32 on the 33-day scale, Day 48 on the 50-day scale. Neither one places the food bookends the same distance from beginning and end... for purpose of explanation on this one, I think I've mentioned that I found a doctoral dissertation that focuses on Groundhog Day but I have purposely not read it just yet because I'm currently come up with potential angles I might take in using this project toward my own master's thesis. But, I did glance through the thing briefly after I printed a copy and I noticed a reference to three versions of eating, imitating it (that's Day 0, when Phil says he's seen Larry eat), gorging on it, and feeding someone else. I think this misses a bit of the implicit eating going on on date night and the explicit eating at the candy shop, but I don't know quite where the author is going with the food bit since I haven't read it yet. Still, having watched the documentary Room 237 not too long ago--well, it was nearly five months ago, but that's recent enough--I'm wondering if I can make the case for some palindromic structure to Groundhog Day.

Let's try. Using the 33-day scale, here's the breakdown of notable events:

  1. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, news report, shower
  2. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, slap, news report, shower
  3. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, Tip Top Cafe ("you should have your head examined")
  4. Ned, Tip Top Cafe ("the wretch")
  5. Nancy Taylor
  6. robs truck, goes out with Laraine
  7. Tip Top Cafe ("does he have to use the word 'poopy?'")/date night ("Jim Beam, ice, water")
  8. date night ("to the Groundhog!")
  9. date night ("what a waste of time!")
  10. date night (best version), slap
  11. date night, slap
  12. slap
  13. slap
  14. slap
  15. slap
  16. slap
  17. slap
  18. slap
  19. "you look terrible"
  20. Jeopardy!
  21. "you're hypocrites"
  22. breaks alarm clock
  23. breaks alarm clock
  24. breaks alarm clock, steals Punxsutawney Phil, dies (explosion)
  25. Mrs. Lancaster, dies (toaster)
  26. dies (truck)
  27. dies (jumps)
  28. Tip Top Cafe ("you like boats but not the ocean"), cards - god day
  29. coffee and pastries, Tip Top Cafe (Phil reading), piano lesson
  30. Chubby Man, piano lesson, ice sculpting
  31. piano lesson, Ned, hospital
  32. Tip Top Cafe (feeding O'Reilly), O'Reilly dies
  33. good deed day, Inner Circle Groundhog Day Festival Banquet

And, now I must argue that a lack of results still tells us something. I'm not seeing any great structure there. But, I'm persistent. So, here's the same thing, but using the 50-day scale.

  1. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, news report, shower
  2. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, slap, news report, shower
  3. Chubby Man, Mrs. Lancaster, Ned, Tip Top Cafe ("you should get your head examined")
  4. Ned
  5. Tip Top Cafe ("the wretch")
  6. Nancy Taylor
  7. robs truck
  8. goes out with Laraine
  9. Tip Top Cafe ("does he have to use the word 'poopy?'")
  10. date night ("Jim Beam, ice, water")
  11. date night ("to the Groundhog!")
  12. date night ("what a waste of time")
  13. date night (best version), slap
  14. date night, slap
  15. slap
  16. slap
  17. slap
  18. slap
  19. slap
  20. slap
  21. slap
  22. "you look terrible"
  23. Jeopardy!
  24. "you're hypocrites"
  25. breaks alarm clock
  26. breaks alarm clock
  27. breaks alarm clock
  28. steals Punxsutawney Phil, dies (explosion)
  29. Mrs. Lancaster, dies (toaster)
  30. dies (truck)
  31. dies offscreen
  32. dies offscreen
  33. dies offscreen
  34. dies offscreen
  35. dies offscreen
  36. dies offscreen
  37. dies (jumps)
  38. Tip Top Cafe ("you like boats but not the ocean"), cards - god day
  39. coffee and pastries
  40. Tip Top Cafe (Phil reading)
  41. piano lesson
  42. Chubby Man
  43. piano lesson
  44. ice sculpting
  45. piano lesson
  46. Ned
  47. hospital
  48. Tip Top Cafe (feeding O'Reilly)
  49. O'Reilly dies
  50. good deed day, Inner Circle Groundhog Day Festival Banquet

The center, structurally, of the 33-day scale was a slap, the center of the 50-day scale falls between broken alarm clocks [edit].

In terms of the 3-act structure, Act One (not counting February 1st) last 10 days on the 33-day scale, 13 days on the 50-day scale; Act Two lasts 18 days on the 33-day scale, 25 on the 50-day scale (so, just over half of the former and half of the latter); Act Three (not counting February 3rd) then lasts 5 days on the 33-day scale, 12 on the 50-day scale. Include February 1st and 3rd, and Act One is 31.4% or 26.9% of the day-structure,; Act Two is 51.4% or 48.1%; and Act Three is 17.1% or 25%. Keep in mind, this has nothing to do with running time, just day count. And, for the record, I put the end of Act One after the best version of date night, and the end of Act Two after god day. This means, Rita is in Phil's room at the end of all three acts (if we count February 3rd as an epilogue), which I think works quite well structurally.

(And, I have got to figure out the running time breakdown as well, and put together my cut up version of the film (days out of order), and I should be able to do both of those things at the same time.)

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to figure out an even more obsessive way to breakdown the film... scene length? shot count?

No comments:

Post a Comment