Eastern Religious Thought in the Film Groundhog Day:
“There Breathes the Man”: The wretch, concentrated all in self, Living, shall forfeit fair renown, and, doubly dying, shall go down to the vile dust, from whence he sprung, Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.
Have you ever felt yourself lost in a wheel of monotony; trapped inside a seemingly repetitious reality? Some refer to such phenomena as dejavu, however, those of certain eastern religious traditions refer to such existence as Samsara – the endless cycle of death and rebirth. In the 1993 comedy, Groundhog Day, Bill Murray stars as Phil the highly esteemed, yet profoundly proud, weatherman for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s WPBH-TV9. As the story unfolds, Phil reluctantly embarks on his annual trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, whereby he will await the report concerning the end of winter by the famous groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil. As the story continues, the main character, Phil, finds himself trapped, waking up each morning only to re-experience January 2nd – Groundhog Day. Much like those of eastern religious traditions believe dharma to be the key in breaking the unceasing cycle of death and rebirth, Phil finds himself on a journey of introspection seeking to find the key to his liberation. Phil’s journey, similar to that of Siddhartha (The Buddha), would lead him to seek answers from science, the indulgence of worldly desires, and practicing morality. However, Phil’s failed attempts would only lead him to total despondence until ultimately he would begin to question his own mortality. The purpose of this paper is to show some of the connections that can be made between the film and important concepts found within the myths of eastern religious traditions, especially that of Buddhism, as both Phil Conners and Siddhartha gain enlightenment and consequently achieve final liberation from their natural or naked self.
In 6th century BCE, Siddhartha was born of nobility to King Shuddhodana and his wife...
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