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.

via Nerdist


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Remember: He also learned to Ice Sculpt, spent six months throwing cards in a hat, and learned about every person in Punxatawney…

    Hell, just observing the bank drop and figuring out to the second what happened had to have taken at least a week, maybe more.

  2. I listen to that interview a few weeks back. I’ve thought about it just about everyday since then. Even if you have 10,000 years, time is still a precious commodity.

  3. 10,000 hours to mastery of the piano would mean a one-hour lesson per day for 10,000 days. 10,000 divided by 365 equals 27 years.

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