Wednesday, December 18, 2013

what is going on?

Today's entry will contain very few words. That doesn't mean it didn't take some effort (and a lot of computer time). See, today, I cut two different versions of Groundhog Day. Nothing too fancy, just used Windows Live Movie Maker. The longer version (actually 6 minutes shorter than the real version) is not online yet, but the shorter one, which I call Rita's Groundhog Day is online.

Recall my entry about Rita's perspective and why she would have any interest in Phil. Or, if you missed that one, go have a read. It was one of the more fun entries to write. Anyway, this short version of Groundhog Day cuts out the time loop entirely and ignores stuff Rita is not there for--

(Except for Larry hitting on Nancy, though I probably could have cut that as well. I think I may have a second go at this particular version of the film, cutting out the Larry and Nancy bit, which means a more complicated cut from the establishing shot of the exterior of the Pennsylvanian to the dance, with Phil's piano coming in over the former... basically, I'll have to pull the audio track out separately and deal with it apart from the video, which isn't easy to do on the free programs I've got.)

--leaving us with an impression of Rita's experience. I will admit up front that the edit in the middle of Phil's Gobbler's Knob report is sloppy. Really, cutting as I do... Well, see for yourself if you've got the time--this version is about 26 minutes long. Below the embed, I'll explain in more detail (which means, if you don't have the time, just scroll down and keep reading).

So, as I was saying, there was no easy way to cut from the beginning of any of Phil's reports to the Chekhov version and have it make visual sense. The people would suddenly be crowded around him and the vocal quality would just be too different. As it is, I wish the edit had been cleaner, so it went straight from Rita giving Phil thumbs up to the Chekhov speech. Instead, there's a tiny bit of Phil starting to explain, "Then it's the same old schtick."

The other cuts here work much better. The transition from treetops in the morning to Phil arriving at Gobbler's Knob works pretty well and the cut from Rita's "I thought we were going back" to the exterior of the Pennsylvanian is quite clean.

As for the content and editing choices involved, it was pretty straightforward. I had to include all of Day 0, and all of Day 3. Creating February 2nd from Rita's perspective, on the other hand was a little more complicated. I obviously wanted the Chekhov bit and everything from the party--I think it makes for a shared confusion between the audience and Rita when all these strangers thank Phil--but I didn't just want to cut from the end of Day 0 (Phil getting back into the van after Rita's dropped off) straight to Chekhov. So, while there is some obvious sarcasm and smartassedness in Phil's initial report, I think it started just fine. In his weather report on Day 0, we see that Phil is the kind of weatherman who makes jokes throughout his report. So, this starting bit actually works:

Once a year, the eyes of the nation turn to this tiny hamlet in western Pennsylvania to watch a master at work. The master? Punxsutawney Phil. The world's most famous weatherman, the groundhog who, as legend has it, can predict the coming of an early spring. The question we have to ask ourselves today is, "Does Phil feel lucky?"

The weird thing is that, while the short is still about Groundhog Day, cutting from Rita's thumbs up means we never actually see the groundhog or get to know if he saw his shadow. But, for the Chekhov bit to work at all, I couldn't show Buster with the groundhog or have the audience booing. So, I'm stuck with a sloppy cut from Phil reporting humorously, to Rita giving thumbs up, to Phil entirely serious and now with a crowd gathered around him. Otherwise, I'm fairly happy with how this turned out.

As for interpretation, I've explained before that Rita should not be interested in Phil at the end of February 2nd; in fact, she should be perplexed by his drastic change. Of course, that could be the very reason she's interested. Consider: if the world were ending, she tells Phil, she would "just want to know where to put the camera." This womanizing jerk from the station didn't want to even go to Punxsutawney yesterday and now he's citing Chekhov? That is a story worth investigating. Plus, with the absence of the whole date night sequence (lost along with the rest of the time loop), we don't know, in watching this shorter cut, that Rita isn't one to move quickly on the first "date." Instead, we can actually assume she's as easy as Nancy seems to be (not that we have any idea who Nancy is in this cut).

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to leave people with only pieces of who I am and what I'm doing so they are all confused.

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