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creativity column

Creativity is the real star in Bill Murray’s 'Groundhog Day'


In 1993, Groundhog Day, a movie starring Bill Murray was released in theaters nationwide. It was an immediate hit. Countless numbers of people have developed theories over the years about the underlying metaphors present in the film.  Spiritual, psychological, even religious overtones have been discussed in blogs and chat rooms online. I can appreciate those comparisons, but I have a different theory.

I think the movie illustrates how someone can use creativity to alter unwanted situations. I’m not sure if that’s what Harold Ramis had intended, but that’s the connection I’ve made. If you’ve never seen it the film, it’s worth seeing. (Spoiler Alert: Major plot points are about to be revealed)

In it, Bill Murray plays a cranky weatherman named Phil Conners from Pittsburgh who gets sent to Puxatawny, Pennsylvania to cover the Groundhog Day activities. As he and his production crew try to leave to go home, they are forced to turn back due to a blizzard that closes the interstate. Murray’s character is then forced to spend the rest of the day in Puxatawny. When he wakes up the next morning, it's still Groundhog Day.

When I first saw the movie, I thought it was a genius concept. Bill Murray tries everything not to have to keep reliving that same day over and over. He also runs his car off a cliff, only to wake up the next morning to begin again.

When I viewed the movie through the lens of creativity, my theory took shape. The film spends a tremendous amount of time showing Murray as he tries to come to grips with his dilemma. Each and every time, he’s met with failure as he winds up in his bed the next morning. Reset to the previous day at 6:00 a.m. He starts to have serious doubts about his sanity.

Near the end, after he’s exhausted what he believes is every possible option he can think of, a change of heart occurs. He ends his cycle of suffering and starts cooperating within the present moments. That’s the key he uses to turn everything around.

That’s creativity showing up ready to go to work. A whole new world opens up to Murray, and he's transformed from this curmudgeonly newscaster into the best version of himself he can be.

Nothing about his surroundings or the people in the town have changed. The one thing that did change was his attitude towards having to live the same day over and over. It's an intense exercise in self-reflection. Creativity drove the change he needed to turn it all around.

What a perfect way to illustrate what can happen when you refuse to accept a bad situation by using a little imagination to live up to your full potential. How many of us are living the same day over and over and never experiencing the type of change we so desperately crave? Embrace the transformative power that creativity offers by refusing to accept mediocrity in any situation, and I promise you, a new day will dawn.

William Childs1 Comment