|Groundhog Day, 2013, M-22|
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Bookseller Imagines Groundhog-Asteroid Collision
Sometime early in the dark, David looked at his watch and announced, “It’s Groundhog Day,” disturbing my dreams and nudging my sleepy brain in an entirely new direction. A little confused? Judge for yourself--
“Groundhog Day” is one of my favorite movies. I always remember the first time I saw it, and how a few repetitions into the radio alarm scene that wakes Bill Murray up in the morning, over and over, I thought, Okay, okay, enough. But then it went on, the day repeating again and again but never quite the same way, because the visiting TV weatherman remembers the previous Groundhog Days, learns from his experiences, and finally—well, either you’ve seen it or you haven’t. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Since that first viewing, every time I’ve seen it again--so many times I’ve lost count: back when we had television and David would be channel-surfing and come upon it, he’d try to hurry past before I could exclaim, “Oh, it’s ‘Groundhog Day!’”--there have been parts I’ve remembered and anticipated and other parts that surprised me all over again. “Oh, I’d forgotten that!” I never get tired of it. In my book, “Groundhog Day” rates 5 stars.
A few evenings ago we watched a very different kind of movie, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” I’d seen the preview (sorry, can’t call it a “trailer,” no matter how ubiquitous that term becomes) and thought it looked interesting. Indeed it was. A quiet, middle-aged insurance agent goes to his office as usual, but nothing else is as usual: traffic is a worse mess than ever before, many people have not shown up for work, and the challenge of selling insurance has never been greater, because—in three weeks an asteroid is due to collide with the earth, bringing about “the end of the world”! He goes home and finds that his wife has left him. Also, a neighbor has gotten his mail by mistake for weeks and not bothered to get it to him until now. In that old mail is a letter from an old girlfriend that closes with, “You were the love of my life.” What else has he to do in the three remaining weeks other than try to reconnect with that old girlfriend? The neighbor, a young Englishwoman, distraught at having missed the last flights out of the country, wants nothing more than to be back home with her family in England. Random, senseless rioting and violence break out at night, friends and strangers engage in orgies, and in one sweet homage scene to “On the Beach,” another end-of-the-world film, families relax by the seaside. It is summer, after all, even if the world is about to end.
In my sleepy, only half-awake state I couldn’t help wondering what kind of movie would result if “Groundhog Day” were combined with “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” First I thought that the last day of the world should be Groundhog Day, repeated over and over: because earth’s inhabitants had no hope of another spring, let alone Thanksgiving or Christmas, they would have to celebrate Groundhog Day, even knowing that there would not be six more weeks of anything. And then, of course, they must re-live the last day of the world over and over again. What do you think?
Or else, instead of Groundhog Day being the last day or even a day three weeks from the end, it could be six weeks from the end, six weeks before the asteroid will collide with earth. Would it matter if the six remaining weeks were winter or if there were hope of an early spring? Neither “On the Beach” nor “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” has the world ending on a snowy winter day, but the last scene of “Seeking a Friend” is one that fits easily into a cold-weather scenario. See it for yourself.
Can you imagine how you would want to spend not only your own last days but the last days of the world? Is it ever too late to learn how to live?