Saturday, November 9, 2013

one long setup

There's an interesting thing I realized in relation to yesterday's entry--for those of you who didn't read it, whose eyes glazed over when you tried to read it, or who just don't feel like clicking on that link to remember what it was, the entry included a theory that Groundhog Day is actually an extended episode of Doctor Who. The "interesting thing" is that, if we take Rita as the TARDIS and not a companion, then Phil trying to get inside her all those nights is not at all sexual...

...or the Doctor entering the TARDIS all the time is.

Of course, despite some people's idea of just what Phil and Rita did before going outside on February 3rd, the movie doesn't ever actually tell us they consummated their relationship. So, maybe they didn't.

Then, the relationship becomes a little Freudian or Oedipal... one of those, or both--I'll admit I haven't studied psychology enough to be sure. In his Transparency blog, Ken Sanes describes his take on Rita's role throughout the story. "At first," he writes, "the female producer is motherly toward the self-centered character and arranges for him to stay at a nice guest house." Now, this seems wrong to me on several levels--a) Rita is a bit too patronizing to be motherly (not to imply that mothers can't be patronizing, but when they are, I'd call that an example of them not being motherly), b) it isn't motherliness that gets Phil that room, but really just what Phil says it is, keeping the "talent" happy, and c) the Cherry Street Inn is a bed and breakfast, not a guest house. That last one is a silly nitpick, I suppose, but I wasn't once called "a pedant among pedants" for nothing. Sanes calls Phil Rita's "spoiled child" in the first act. Then, as Phil grows up, Rita becomes something else. But, I'm not entirely sure she ever does because a) she wasn't really motherly in the first place and b) we have no real reason to believe Phil and Rita ever consummate their relationship.

Of course, if we assume Sanes is right and Rita represents a motherly figure in act one, then I suppose Larry is the fatherly figure. So, it makes sense that once Rita has been set up as Phil's love interest, Larry moves on to hitting on Nancy. He's moving on. Kinda weird that he's moving on to his son's old fiancé.

I've got a post-it note that's been sitting around for a while that simply has "parenting" written on it. I've wanted to deal with parenting roles in Groundhog Day for a while now. I wanted to suggest that the motherly role befits Mrs. Lancaster or Mary the piano teacher. The fatherly role goes to O'Reilly, obviously--I mean, Phil even calls him "pop," "father" and "dad." That nicknaming, by the way, is one of the things that's always bugged me about the film. I don't find it weird at all that Phil calls Mrs. Lancaster "mama" because it's funny. But, calling O'Reilly "dad" just always seemed odd. And, that stuff isn't in the script. Well, the entire homeless man bit isn't in Rubin's original. It is in Ramis' second revision, but Phil calls O'Reilly "mister."

And, honestly, O'Reilly doesn't fit any particular fatherly role for Phil--maybe that's why that particular post-it note has gone unresponded to. Mrs. Lancaster, on the other hand, gives Phil a place to stay (though technically, she's being paid) and Mary teaches Phil a new skill and speaks of his public performance proudly like a mother might. I'm not sure anyone really serves a fatherly role for Phil in the film.

If we remember Michael P. Foley describing in "Phil's Shadow" how Phil looks plaintively toward heaven after O'Reilly dies, then we could assume the absence of a father figure (or the death of O'Reilly as a potential father figure) is entirely on purpose, representative of the missing divine father. Phil's predicament does not include God, no matter how much Phil might want it to do so; in Phil's universe, there is not, or might as well not be, a God. He is the absentee father who has abandoned his son to the sacrifice of the time loop.

(On the subject of God, a weird aside. I looked up a couple of the clock time we see in the film (4:04 and 3:02) as bible verses to see what would come up, and here are the results:

Philippians 4:04 tells us, "Celebrate God all day, every day."

Matthew 3:02 tells us, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

If we assume that this random search for meaning is legitimate--and I think we just have to assume as much sometimes, for fun if not any better reason--then that "all day, every day" could apply to Phil's days in the time loop, and that bit about "the kingdom of heaven" being at hand implies to me the end of days. Though Phil Connors gets out of the February 2nd time loop at the end of Groundhog Day, I think we can pretend the February 3rd is just a whole new loop. I mean, recall my description of 12:01 P.M.; Myron Castleman's experience with the time bounce actually is the end of the world. And, he's the only one who knows it, the only one who can experience the one hour bounce as time has come to an end. If--and that's a big if--February 3rd is just another time loop, at least Phil won't be alone for it; he's got Rita. If only she were a time machine, maybe he could get out of the time loop for good.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to study up on my Freud and whatnot to explore Groundhog Day from some new angles.

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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