optional death and dismemberment plan
Today's blog will necessarily be very short. Turns out there is no copy of Groundhog Day on my iPod anymore (gotta fix that when I get home). So, it is midnight already local time, though I don't know if I'm on local time just yet. And, I've got to write my blog and watch the movie, both on the iPad.
I don't know that I have much to say tonight anyway. I was given a question from my friend Pablo (who I've mentioned before) as prompts. I forget the exact phrasing, unfortunately--and he should be asleep--but it was about what happens after we die. In terms of Groundhog Day, it's hard to say there's a particular answer. We see Phil die, of course, and there is life after death, of course, but the circumstances are special. What's most important about what comes after death in the film is not what comes from Phil--for we don't really know that he has any special knowledge from having died--but from what comes of the death of others within the film. As I said, we see Phil die, and after his fourth death on screen, we get one of only two scenes in the film that do not include Phil Connors.
We see Larry and Rita in a morgue, or maybe a coroner's office, a mortician or coroner standing nearby. Phil is dead on the table, his body covered in a sheet. Rita identifies him simply; "That's him," she says. And, she turns to Larry, clearly bothered by death at worst, and specifically the death of Phil Connors at best. She met him yesterday--and it's probably still morning, and Phil probably skipped out on his report from Gobbler's Knob to go kill himself, so really the only time she has spent with him is that hour-and-a-half drive from Pittsburgh to Punxsutawney. On the one hand, this demonstrates to us that Rita is a caring individual. On the other hand, it demonstrates that even an ego-centric jerk can leave a mark and be mourned.
It's hard to argue, however, that Larry's line is sincere. "He was a really great guy," he says. "I really really liked him... a lot." It doesn't sound sincere, but even then he felt the need to say something. And, I'm sure he will miss trading jibes with Phil.
There is another death later in the film, one that repeats as Phil's does. O'Reilly, the Old Man--his death leaves a mark as well. It leaves a mark on Phil. And, it leaves a mark on us. For Phil, it is O'Reilly's death that finally--if he hasn't already learned this lesson--teaches him that he cannot control everything. No matter how much knowledge and skill he gains through the time loop, he cannot save this one man from his inevitable demise. There's a deleted scene in which Phil studies medical texts and looks at x-rays. And, he still cannot save the Old Man.
For us, the death of O'Reilly reminds us that death is supposed to be tragic, supposed to be sad. Phil's deaths were certainly a dark moment for the film, and for Phil, but they don't play as quite sad. But, O'Reilly's death plays as the low emotional point at the climax of the film.
Death is supposed to matter. We, watching the film, need to be reminded of that. And, Phil, stuck in a deathless loop, needs to be reminded as well.
Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to be reminded of death, sure, but also to take some days to avoid all death, all sadness, to steer clear of everything dark and experience, perhaps, pure joy.