“Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis.
Murray plays a weather man from a nearby Pittsburgh television station who believes he is god’s gift to the viewing public. His assignment occurs on February 2nd, when the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil appears and forecasts whether there will be six more weeks of winter based on whether he sees his shadow.
He has little love for the people of the town or his co-workers who gets the brunt of his disdain. When a blizzard hits the area, he is trapped in the town and rents a hotel room where he awakens the next morning as a clock radio emits the sounds of Sonny and Cher day after day after day.
Murray is “condemned” to relive that day for what seems like forever. Kind of reminds me of the myth of a “Sisyphus.” He was a Greek king that the Olympic gods punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.
The protagonist in Groundhog Day tries to escape this torture of re-living this same day, turning violent and even suicidal before learning to be kind to others and improve his lot through such life-enriching endeavors as learning to play the piano, sculpt ice statues and love with a pure heart and mind.
He goes out of his way to be kind, compassionate and giving by saving the life of a man choking on a meal, catching a young boy falling from a tree and changing a flat tire of a car with three elderly women passing him by.
It is through these acts of kindness and compassion for others that he obtains his freedom from the cyclical nature of his world. It is the message of Buddhism whereby a person escapes the suffering of life by being good and doing good for others. Persons “reincarnate” in order to return to another life and to “get it right.” Students of Buddhism believe that we’re all destined to re-live events based on the karma we create in previous lives and only the most enlightened among us get to “awake” and escape!
Harold Remis, who passed away in 2014, was friends with the Dalai Lama of Tibet. He also worked in a mental institution for several months.
I believe his movies may have incorporated karmic lessons he received from both of those sources.