Sunday, November 10, 2013

i've seen it over a hundred times

As I write this, it’s Day 2 for Phil Connors on the DVD and my daughters are in the kitchen making a cake to celebrate Day 100 for me... photo should be below.

The movie Phil had seen over 100 times (or so he tells Laraine) was Heidi II. It’s a “family classic” according to the Alpine Theater’s marquee.

But, as I’ve mentioned before, it doesn’t exist. Originally, the movie that Phil could see every day if he wanted to do so was It’s a Wonderful Life. Danny Rubin’s ego—and this is his suggestion, not mine—made him believe Groundhog Day “a timeless quality and had the potential to become a film that could work for audiences for a very long time.” So, he put another such film on the marquee. But, “even believing that Groundhog Day was a potential classic, [Rubin] never was thinking of comparing it to It’s a Wonderful Life“—

(I’d say putting that title on the marquee was Rubin deliberately comparing the two, but maybe that’s just me.)
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Rubin continues: “But the similarities between that movie and this one were clearer to Harold [Ramis], and I had to agree with his argument that putting that movie on the marquee was too self-referential.

“Heidi II is kind of funny. That’s Lampoony style humor and not so much mine, but it’s a good gag.”

I’ve previously mentioned that there was a Heidi 2 in existence at the time Groundhog Day came out, but it was not a family film but a German porn film. Thing is, apparently that film, actual German title Heidi… Heida 2! - Im Wald und auf der Heidi, didn’t come out until 1996; it’s the sequel to a film that came out in 1992 (i.e. it existed before the time loop).

(By the way, the first film is simply titled Im Wald und auf der Heidi, which Babelfish translates, amusingly—remember, it’s a porn film—as In the Forest and on the Heidi.)

That film (and the Heidi II in Groundhog Day) is presumably based on the 1880 novel by Johanna Spyri, about an orphan girl living with her alcoholic grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Interesting thing—considering that Ramis went with Heidi II just to have a silly nonexistent family film that no one would ever want to watch day in and day out on the marquee—the novel was originally published in two parts. Part 1 was titled Heidi’s Years of Learning and Travel. Part 2, which we might assume is the movie playing at the Alpine in Phil’s cinematic universe, was titled Heidi Makes Use of What She Has Learned. It is a nice bit of synchronicity that Groundhog Day might as well be at least subtitled Phil Makes Use of What He Has Learned.

(There’s a bit of a “sequel” to Heidi—ostensibly a sequel to to an art project that I am having trouble confirming has anything to do with Spyri’s novel—that takes elements from the novel and... I’d say “updates them for a modern audience” but really it just kinda makes them weird. There’s a review here and you can see some of the weirdness here.)

But, enough about Heidi II.

Some things worth noting on this day 100:

An addendum to yesterday’s entry regarding Larry’s possibly symbolic role as Phil’s father, I should have mentioned Phil asking Larry on “pastry” day if he has kids.

Also, I read an interesting bit about Phil’s ice sculpting recently that I hadn’t considered. Ken Sanes calls ice sculpting “the perfect art form” for Phil “since everything he does will have melted away when he wakes up anyway.” In Rubin’s original, it’s marble that Phil learns to sculpt... on the one hand, that’s far more permanent than ice, obviously; on the other hand, Phil can sculpt the same piece of marble over and over and discover just what form works best.

And, another thing: I’ve wondered about the minivan in the last shot before the credits—as Phil and Rita head for the Cherry Street Inn’s gate, a minivan pulls out of a driveway on the street ahead. I kinda figured it was a just a local not realizing they were filming right then but I think I just decided it is actually far more strategic than that. The minivan is one of the quintessential symbols of suburban family life, and where are Phil and Rita headed except into a future as a suburban family? It’s the film reifying tradition all over again.

Speaking of tradition, it is customary to celebrate things with cake. And, here’s the cake:

P.S. The Groundhog Day Project has a Twitter and a Facebook page. Follow and like them respectively and help spread the word. And, if you want to support The Groundhog Day Project financially (so, for example, I can travel to Woodstock, IL for Groundhog Day), you can do that too...

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