One of my favorite films from a while ago—I haven’t seen it now for about 7 years or so—is Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray. As a freshman undergrad, it was required viewing for the course “Religion, Ethics, and Film.” People are usually surprised to hear that this film—among such somber films as Sophie’s Choice and Unforgiven—engendered the most serious and insightful discussion.
In a recent article for National Review, Jonah Goldberg writes on the popularity of viewing the film through spiritual lenses. Here are some quotes:
“One of the best films of the last 40 years. . . . [It] will almost undoubtedly join It’s a Wonderful Life in the pantheon of America’s most uplifting, morally serious, enjoyable, and timeless movies. . . . Brilliant as both comedy and moral philosophy.”—Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online
Groundhog Day is “a stunning allegory of moral, intellectual, and even religious excellence in the face of postmodern decay, a sort of Christian-Aristotelian Pilgrim’s Progress for those lost in the contemporary cosmos.”—Michael Foley, professor of theology at Notre Dame
““The movie ‘Groundhog Day.’ It is a brilliant moral fable offering an Aristotelian view of the world.”—Charles Murray, author of Human Accomplishment, when asked what things in pop culture he would place in his top-20 list.
According to the New York Times, “Curators of the series [“The Hidden God: Film and Faith,” sponsored by the Musuem of Modern Art in New York], polling some 35 critics in the literary, religious and film worlds to suggest films with religious interpretations, found that “Groundhog Day” came up so many times that there was actually a squabble over who would write about it in the retrospective’s catalog.”
It’s a movie worth rewatching and discussing. For more, see:
- Phil’s Shadow, by Michael P. Foley (Touchstone)
- A Movie for All Time, by Jonah Goldberg (National Review)
Update: The link to Goldberg’s article is now fixed to the online version.