Tuesday, May 20, 2014

can you keep a secret

In Groundhog Day, two males and one female go from the big city to a tiny hamlet in western Pennsylvania. In The Shining, two males and one female go from living in the big city to a hotel in the mountains of Colorado.

In Groundhog Day, the black guy works at the bar. In The Shining, the black guy works in the kitchen.

In both films, there's a blizzard, a nice old lady, a bathtub, a bar, and a holiday party. Plus, Phil gets stopped in the hallway by the Chubby Man, who is certainly large enough to contain those twin dead girls.

Coincidences?

Maybe. Or maybe, just like the crazy folks behind Room 237 think The Shining is Stanley Kubrick's way of admitting that he secretly created the moon landing footage, Groundhog Day was Harold Ramis' way of admitting that he secretly created The Shining.

Think about it. Ramis is not known for making adaptations. Nor is he known for making horror films. So, if he were to make one from a beloved Stephen King novel, it would make sense that he wouldn't put his own name on it.

So, how about evidence? I mean, the snow could just be a coincidence. We might assume the ice sculptures represent the topiary animals left out of the "Kubrick" version of The Shining. We might assume that the final shot of The Shining, representing the idea that Jack has always been at the overlook is directly alluded to by the time loop, Phil Connors literally spending forever in Punxsutawney.

The Shining according to the crazy folk treated almost legitimately by Room 237 is notable for its palindromic structure. Eight minutes into Groundhog Day, Phil meets Ned for the first time. Eight minutes from the end, Phil meets Ned for the last time. Ten minutes in, Phil gives his first report. Ten minutes from the end of the movie, he gives his last. At 15 minutes in, Phil is confronted by the blizzard. Fifteen minutes from the end of the film, Phil is confronted by the death of the Old Man. Seventeen minutes in, we see the alarm clock for the second time turning over to 6:00 AM. Seventeen minutes from the end, we see the alarm clock for the second to last time as "god day" comes to an end. Twenty-five minutes eight seconds in, Phil breaks the pencil in two. Twenty-five minutes eight second from the end of the movie, if you put the deleted scenes back into place, Phil cuts an ice sculpture of Punxsutawney Phil in half.

This one:

Forty minutes into the movie, Rita calls Phil egocentric. Forty minutes from the end of the movie, Rita says, "I could never love anybody like you, Phil, because you'll never love anyone but yourself." And, the two snowman scenes perfectly frame the midpoint of the film.*

The Shining also contains hidden messages on the shirts of Danny Torrance. The only character in Groundhog Day who has a shirt with a message on it is Gus, and his shirt just happens to be an Apollo 11 shirt.**

I have previously noted how the geography around Gobbler's Knob doesn't make sense (for example, here), relative to the geography of where it was actually filmed. There's an entire section in Room 237 on how the hotel's hallways don't make sense relative to its lobby.

In The Shining, Jack goes into room 237 and finds a young woman who he proceeds to kiss, but she turns into an rotten old dead woman. In Groundhog Day, we see Phil kissing two women (aside from the obvious Rita): young Nancy Taylor and old Florence Lancaster. And, the full running time of Groundhog Day with all of its deleted scenes reinserted is 2 hours 37 minutes.***

The Shining is also noted by the conspiracy theorists for its use of reversed writing. In Groundhog Day, Phil dies four times, but specifically he kills himself three times in a row, a quick montage of electrocution, getting run down by a truck, and jumping off the Pennsylvanian Hotel tower. In the middle of this trio, Phil steps out in front of a truck with reversed writing on its front. The truck's company is none other than Overlook Moving Company.****

First of all, I would argue that the location for filming the dance scene in Groundhog Day, the local Moose Lodge, was specifically chosen because its floor's pattern evokes the carpeting from the Overlook in The Shining. But, also, both Harold Ramis and "Stanley Kubrick" were lifelong Mooses.

Also, if you look closely, you will see that Danny Torrance is playing with a small news van (not a common toy, mind you, probably made explicitly for its inclusion in The Shining), a red pickup truck, and a police car. It would seem Ramis was planning a decade in advance just how to admit to his ruse. Or he just waited around for the right script to land on his desk, one with a news van, one set in winter, one with a scene in a bathtub.

And finally, recall my disapproval of Benesh's (2011) attachment to that COPIES sign Phil passes every morning. She notes its presence as "an allusion to reproduction and the two Phils" (p. 99).

(Coincidentally (or is it?), Jack Nicholson, who starred in The Shining also starred in The Two Jakes.)

Benesh directly links Phil Connors to Punxsutawney Phil, like two sides of the same coin, much in the way that "Tony" exists within Danny Torrance. Groundhog Day's COPIES just may be equivalent to The Shining's Calumet Baking Powder.

Ultimately, I guess the question we have to ask upon viewing both The Shining and Groundhog Day is this: do you ever have deja vu?

Besides, this is obviously a groundhog costume:

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to study all the films of many major directors to see who else might not actually exist.

Notes:

* References to times within Groundhog Day in this particular entry may have been adjusted by up to 10 minutes to make things more awesome.

** It's actually a Punxsutawney Phil shirt, but as Jan Harold Brunvand likes to say, the truth never gets in the way of a good story.

*** This one just is not true at all. You can't even properly insert the deleted scenes, and together they certainly do not make up nearly an hour of footage. Groundhog Day is only 1 hour 41 minutes 4 seconds in length.

**** Yeah, that one is just plain not true, either, as you can see below:

(Of course, that "No Stop Moving" name is so ridiculously redundant and punny, that it almost begs to mean something.)

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