When you kick back to watch the movie Groundhog Day, one imagines Phil (played by Bill Murray) trapped in a repeating loop for a little over a month. Turns out, it was much, much, much longer than that.
Plato had a theory that one’s soul required 10,000 years to realize its full potential and attain complete understanding. Many would refer to this as enlightenment. From that perspective, Groundhog Day shows us a glimpse of a man’s life during those 10,000 years.
The revelation of the length of time Phil was “stuck”, comes from Stephen Tobolowsky, who played Ned, during a recent interview with Chris Hardwick on the Nerdist podcast.
“Harold Ramis, who was a practicing Buddhist, said that it took 10,000 years for the soul to perfect itself. So when they say, ‘how long is Bill Murray trapped in Punxsutawney’… they have all sorts of theories – nine days, forty-four days, some say 166 years… they worked all this stuff out, and Harold Ramis told me, ‘No Stephen, it’s 10,000 years.'” –Stephen Tobolowsky
It makes sense, too, that if Phil was going to become a concert pianist, and you follow the 10,000 hour rule to be a master at everything he did in the movie, would take a considerable amount of time. Beyond the self mastery, Phil also contributed greatly to the town, which also contributed to his enlightenment.
“He did something. He spent his whole day doing something. Whether it was saving the kid falling from the tree, or saving the Mayor, choking on the piece of steak, trying to keep the old man alive, helping the old ladies with their flat tire, he was doing something with his life, and by doing that, he had nothing but gain…” – Stephen Tobolowsky
Wow. When you look at the movie from that perspective, Groundhog Day may be one of the most philosophical comedies ever made.