When the Museum of Modern Art in New York debuted a film series on "The Hidden God: Film and Faith" two years ago, it opened with Groundhog Day. The rest of the films were drawn from the ranks of turgid and bleak intellectual cinema, including standards from Ingmar Bergman and Roberto Rossellini. According to the New York Times, curators of the series were stunned to discover that so many of the 35 leading literary and religious scholars who had been polled to pick the series entries had chosen Groundhog Day that a spat had broken out among the scholars over who would get to write about the film for the catalogue. In a wonderful essay for the Christian magazine Touchstone, theology professor Michael P. Foley wrote that Groundhog Day is "a stunning allegory of moral, intellectual, and even religious excellence in the face of postmodern decay, a sort of Christian-Aristotelian Pilgrim's Progress for those lost in the contemporary cosmos." Charles Murray, author of Human Accomplishment, has cited Groundhog Day more than once as one of the few cultural achievements of recent times that will be remembered centuries from now. He was quoted in The New Yorker declaring, "It is a brilliant moral fable offering an Aristotelian view of the world."Sound a little heavy for you? (of course, National Review is kind of an intellectual magazine). In that case, read this piece by movie critic Roger Ebert, who says:
His journey has become a parable for our materialistic age; it embodies a view of human growth that, at its heart, reflects the same spiritual view of existence Murray explored in his very personal project The Razor's Edge. He is bound to the wheel of time, and destined to revolve until he earns his promotion to the next level. A long article in the British newspaper the Independent says Groundhog Day is "hailed by religious leaders as the most spiritual film of all time." Perhaps not all religious leaders have seen anything by Bergman, Bresson, Ozu and Dreyer, but never mind: They have a point, even about a film where the deepest theological observation is, "Maybe God has just been around a long time and knows everything."
Anyway, stop reading this and check it out. (When you've finished watching it, come back and read us some more...)