…”It shouts out to you,” said George Heckert, the Buddhist director of the Philadelphia Meditation Center in Havertown.
This month, as it does every February, the center will hold a free screening of Groundhog Day and a discussion of its inner themes. For those who wish to come prepared, cable’s Comedy Channel will show the film six times in 26 hours, beginning tomorrow – the real Groundhog Day – at 10 a.m.
“It’s a very Buddhist movie,” said Ken Klein, of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia in Upper Darby. “It has all sorts of layers.”
In the 1993 film, Murray plays cynical, self-important Phil Connors, a Pittsburgh TV weatherman sent to cover an assignment he loathes: the Groundhog Day festivities in tiny Punxsutawney, Pa.
“A thousand people freezing their butts off, waiting to worship a rat,” he gripes.
Following the ceremony, a blizzard strands Connors in town, and when he wakes the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again. And again, and again, and again.
Connors tries everything to break the cycle – including driving off a cliff with a kidnapped Punxsutawney Phil at the wheel – but not even death can free him.
To Buddhist fans, Connors’ endlessly recurring day illustrates samsara, the circle of birth and rebirth.
“The word reincarnation is never mentioned, yet it’s such an obvious metaphor,” said Paul Schindler Jr., an Oregon teacher whose writings on the film include the online column “Groundhog Day: The Movie, Buddhism and Me.”