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Living an Authentic Life in The Film "Groundhog Day "

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Groundhog Day Film Analysis

What would you do if you had the chance to relive the same day over and over again? In the film Groundhog Day, a man named Phil Connors relives the same day every time he wakes up. Phil, who is a weather man for a Pittsburgh news station, goes to Punxsutawney Pennsylvania to cover Groundhog Day. He is accompanied by his producer Rita and cameraman Larry, both whom think Phil is an uptight, arrogant, and rude man.

From the moment we meet Phil Connors, it is clear that he is a jerk who believes that his job is a waste of his talent and time. In the morning, Phil wakes up to his alarm clock with radio broadcasters announcing that it is Groundhog day. After breakfast, he then makes his way to the Groundhog day festivities. Phil then gives a insincere and heartless news report, and immediately insists on returning back to Pittsburgh, even though Rita wanted to continue filming and enjoy the atmosphere.

On their way back to Pittsburgh, snow is falling down heavily, and the roads become covered in a thick white sheet. Due to the blizzard, the roads become closed, and Phil is stuck in Punxsutawney. To his surprise, the next day he wakes up to the same radio broadcast and song. He then discovers that he is reliving the same day. Thinking he is going crazy at first, Phil panics for a way out of the time loop. However, once Phil discovers that he is trapped and no one is aware, he starts doing whatever he wants because there are no consequences for his actions.

This movie can closely relate to themes of existentialism. Existentialism was a term coined by Gabriel Marcel and applied to Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. It is the philosophical idea that reality is characterized by change. Existentialist believe that reality is change, and as a human, you are in a constant process of becoming who you are. Our intentions and life projects are essential to this theory. Although your everyday life shapes who you are, we are subject to fundamental illusions.

We tend live our lives wrong, and because of this, we live inauthentically. To be inauthentic means to be alienated from ourselves and each other. But one major theme of existentialism is that we are radically free. Jean Sartre emphasizes this idea by saying, “there isn’t anything built in, with time, we construct our essence. Choices we make shape us, we create ourselves”. Our individual choices affect everybody around us, and we experience anxiety in recognizing our freedom.

With that being said, the theme that we are radically free is depicted many times throughout the movie Groundhog Day. This can be shown through the main character Phil. Once Phil discovers he has the ability to do whatever he wants, he is radically free, since he has no consequences. For example, during the car scene, Phil drives into a mailbox and up railroad tracks while being chased by cop cars. He has complete freedom and no hesitation for his actions because even though he gets in trouble with the law, the next day it is all forgotten. Despite that, Phil wants to break the curse of reliving groundhog day.

He starts to realize that life has meaning and purpose to it, but he has to be the one to give it that purpose and value. As he keeps progressing through the days, you can see his attitude become more positive and he is living a moral life. He tries to do right by treating people with respect and even falls in love with Rita, every single day. This can relate to Sartre, and his one rule that can guide all of our actions. Sartre says “we need to treat every person as an end, not just a means to our end”. Before, Phil just used people to his benefit, but he realizes that treating people with kindness and as you would yourself, you shape humanity as a whole. In the end, his freedom and ability to create an impact is what broke the curse, because he became his authentic self.

This films perspective helped contribute to my understanding of what it means to live an authentic life. Phil comes to the realization that Groundhog day may be his fate, but he also realizes that his actions have no long term repercussions. But that knowledge can be a powerful or dangerous thing. Phil is given opportunity after opportunity to get the day right. Phil is in a constant state of becoming as he goes through these days.

To live an authentic life, one must not attach any religious or political ideology to their actions. Instead, they must be genuine to their own beliefs and stand by their own decisions. The term “bad faith” is to think that you as a person with no freedom or possibility. Sartre states in the book Basic Writings of Existentialism “I am responsible for myself and for everyone else. I am creating a certain image of man of my own choosing”.This line really affected my outlook on life because I choose my own reality, and my image reflects that.

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Living an Authentic Life in the Film “Groundhog Day “. (2020, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from
“Living an Authentic Life in the Film “Groundhog Day “.” GradesFixer, 27 Feb. 2020,
Living an Authentic Life in the Film “Groundhog Day “. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Jan. 2022].
Living an Authentic Life in the Film “Groundhog Day “ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Feb 27 [cited 2022 Jan 29]. Available from:
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