Harold Ramis: How ‘Groundhog Day’ is like the Torah
Harold Ramis, who died Monday at age 69, was responsible for some of the most profound comedies to emerge in the 20th century.
So profound that they might actually be like … the Torah?
In this video from several years ago — you can watch it here — that has Ramis talking about the cultural impact of “Groundhog Day,” he compared his 1993 existential comedy starring Bill Murray to the five books of Moses — particularly in how people watched and rewatched it, taking new meaning from it each time.
“One reason Jews respond to the idea is that the Torah is read every year — you start at the same place on the same day,” he said. “The Torah doesn’t change, but every year we read it we are different. Our lives have changed … and you find new meaning in it as we change.”
He laughed. “I’m not comparing ‘Groundhog Day’ to the Torah ... but there’s something in it that allows people every time they see it to reconsider where they are in life and question their own habitual behaviors.”
The film of course imagines a jaded big-city weatherman caught in a vortex that has him living through a day over and over in a small Pennsylvania town far from home. Ramis said he was struck after it came out how many groups saw narratives in it close to their own heart — from Zen Buddhists to Hasidic Jews to psychotherapists, all of whom valued the idea of a man forced to re-live the same experiences.
“It’s not just something for everyone. The film is the film. It does not change,” he said. “But everybody project[s] something onto the film.”
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