Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Brief Tribute to Two Comedies of Tragedy: Parallels = Stranger than Fiction and Groundhog Day (The Movie)

"When rumors began to circulate in Punxsutawney that Columbia Pictures was considering a movie about Groundhog Day, the general consensus from people was, "Yeah, right!" Even if such a thing were true, what were the chances of it being a hit?
Well, now and then people enjoy being proven wrong... and this was one of those occasions! The Bill Murray / Andie MacDowell comedy has brought in more than $100 million worldwide, and was the most popular movie in the country for two weeks. Groundhog Day also finished as one of the top ten grossing movies of 1993, and won a British Academy Award for best screenplay!

To the surprise of many people (and the disappointment of many folks from Punxsutawney), the movie was not filmed in our fair town. The closest the cameras came to Punxsutawney was some opening footage that was taken of Pittsburgh's Golden Triangle."

"Stranger than Fiction is a 2006 American comedy-drama film - Will Ferrell stars as Harold Crick, a lonely IRS agent whose mundane existence is transformed when he hears a mysterious voice narrating his life. "
Maggie Gyllenhaal is hot and delivers an endearingly refreshing "Hollywood actress" performance...

= A+++ (+)

Basically, I believe these two films to be very similar in nature and on their philosophical levels. Even a brief description of the two could sound very similar = In both films the protagonist is also his own antagonist and it takes an overwhelming, all-encompassing, all-consuming omnipotent power (also employed as a sort of antagonist in a way - although in a good way because its force allows for self edification for change). The the protagonists, Bill Murray and Will Ferrell, are so set in their ways that they are really pathetically, hopelesslly, never going to change on their own. Murray, Pittsburgh station weatherman, and Ferrell, an IRS auditor, are in such personal ruts and are too busy and too self focused (in a neurotic manner) to ever realize. And both are in dire need of this omnipotent power to intefer how they perceive everyday and how they live everyday.

Unlike a similar type tale of transformation, Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (=brilliant), Groundhog Day and Stranger Than Fiction are definitely commercial works for a mainstream audience. Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis is seriously existential - written for himself - without the need, want or intent to attract attention by a mainstream audience. Nevertheless, all three of these pieces are about transformation.

Groundhog Day and Stranger Than Fiction cleverly manifest change-for-the-better brought about, more or less, by a comedy of errors. The characters are too far gone for any self realization from intense introspection, psychoanalysis or just divine inspiration from signs and symbols of everyday that some genius type artists are able to magically transform from the mistakenly mundane into a translation of that which is to be popularly celebrated with a wild fame. Changing people's perceptions and lives.

Although there are 13 years between these two comedies of tragedies for some reason when one does an internet search, there is a further separartion of these two films brought about by what appears as a result of the internet search.

Whereas searching Stranger Than Fiction (2006) returns allot of commercial type links, Groundhog Day (1993) returns essays, interpretations, dedications of poetry, planning lessons, etc. as follows: Groundhog Day The Movie, Buddhism and Me,
Groundhog Day - a sample lesson plan,
Groundhog Day/A movie review by Peter Hata,
How the movie Groundhog Day can lead to a happier and more ...,
Top 7 Reasons to Love Groundhog Day (the movie-not the “holiday ...,
Groundhog Day: The Movie
(Groundhog Day, the movie, is about how we can break through to our true selves so that compassion, creativity and love are an inherent part of

Both films are funny, subtly thought provoking, have merit and are worth watching - even over and over again - until you get it right.

Best of the Roses,
John French

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey. Thanks for the link. I never thought of those two as being similar, but now I can see it. I do enjoy both films, though i have not re-seen STF multiple times as i did with GHD.