Repeating Interactions in Groundhog Day

Groundhog day is a movie in which the hero, Phil Connors, is forced to repeat one day over and over. That day is Grouindhog Day in Puxatawney, Pennsylvania, home of Puxatawney Phil, the world's most famous groundhog. This project presents Phil's interactions with a homeless man, Ned Ryerson and Puxatawney Phil.

The core of the movie is Phil's transformation into a truly good person. This is shown through his interactions with Rita, his producer, in the main arc of the movie. However, there are several points along the way where Phil is stuck at a point in his transformation, trying over and over to get through the same situation without success. Rita is usually the catalyst to get him out, but while he is in the little loops of life, he is essentially the same person for the entire loop.

Phil's three major loops are the original Phil, desperate Phil, and Phil trying to be good. The original Phil deals with the homeless man, Ned Ryerson and the groundhog. Then he enters a period of interacting with Rita, and becomes desperate Phil when he realizes how wrong his motivations in life are. He hurts both Ned and the groundhog many times. Finally, he tries to be good, emulating Rita's example of a good person. During this time he tries to save the homeless man repeatedly. He fails. Once he accepts that he cannot do everything, he has the perfect day, which ends with him beside Rita and accepting that he is happy in the now. This breaks the cycle, and Phil goes on with his life as a happy, good person instead of the bitter man striving for success that he was.

The boundaries between the different stages Phil goes through are not sharp. Rita is the buffer between the original Phil and the desperate Phil, but there are a few days of overlap between the desperate Phil and Phil trying to be good.

The original Phil

Desperate Phil

Phil trying to do good

The perfect day

The Homeless Man

Ned Ryerson

The Groundhog

A table of all interactions

List of all lexia (required for 21W765j)

This is a project for 21W765j, interactive and non-linear narrative, taught by Professor Janet Murray at MIT, spring 1998.

By Jennifer Murphy