Groundhog Day (1993), Temporal Movies and Shows, and Stories That Revisit Themselves Over and Over.

I screened Groundhog Day (1993) last night. I thought about its structure, the repeating scenes, and one person stuck in the middle. Which then led to flicks that repeated Groundhog or went off in a sampling of past scenes in new ways. Back to the Future Part II (1989) or Avengers: Endgame (2019). Returning to a past movie and twisting it. Movies or Shows that repeat or use time and reoccurrence to dramatize. Which did it best or is your favorite? And what fails miserably?

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Memento – it doesn’t repeat time but each scene overlaps with the previous one so you see the same thing with new information. Highly effective and very weird.

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Nolan announcing himself to the world in that. Guy Pearce at his peak. Only The Proposition (2005) darts close. The black and white one-sided phone dialog offers a linear contrast to the rest of the movie.

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I gotta go with Groundhog Day, too.

But those overlapping timestreams in MST3K come darn close!

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Remember that roach kill from NOES 4?

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Two movies come to mind right away, and they’d be great as a double-feature or companion pieces: Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code.

And they’re very good, too.

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I really like Edge of Tomorrow. It was a very clever adaptation of the Groundhog Day effect.

There are a lot of scifi shows that use that same plot. Stargate SG-1 had a really good version of it with only O’Neil and Teal’c realizing it. ST:TNG had a good one with the little glimmers of memory.

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And a fantastic cast, too, from top to bottom.

It felt fresh, bold, and gripping. It really did a lot to keep you invested in the whole “guy repeats timeline stuff” narrative.

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The Back to the Future Trilogy.

The first movie had a small taste of it with Marty returning to his proper time ten minutes early, only to make it back to the mall (brilliantly changed from the Twin Pines Mall to the Lone Pine Mall) in time to see Doc gunned down by the Libyans and his past self escaping to 1955, miraculously revealing Doc threw caution to the wind, read his warning, and prepared with a bullet proof vest.

Of course, it’s the second movie that takes this entire concept to the extreme by having the third act taking place during the events of November 12th, 1955, allowing us to see the events of the dance from a slightly different angle (including Marty preventing Biff’s Minions from attacking his past self). The second part ends with the climax of the first film, seamlessly lining up with the last shot of Doc celebrating the success of their mission with Marty running back in needing help to return to the future AGAIN. Just brilliant. The third film merely showcases this scene again at the beginning with no real overlap like the first two films, but I love these three films so much that I have to mention it.

Some people find the second film way too confusing with moments taking place in 2015, 1955, and an alternative 1985, but I never had a problem following along (and it’s very clear that Time Chasers was heavily inspired by the second film). It managed to pull off a way to logically revisit its previous film without feeling convoluted and contrived.

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I agree. One of the most interesting things I found in it was the gradual hardening of the main character. He starts out as pretty soft, a person in a military uniform who really isn’t a military person and then, he gets more and more daring as he realizes he has no choice but to relive this over and over again. But then, as his goals change, he himself changes, going through multiple stages of horror and grief and anger until you reach the final willingness to completely sacrifice himself if necessary.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I watched it, but it sucked me right in because it was obviously a Groundhog Day plot, but it really worked.

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With you a 1000 percent. The original and Part II especially toggle and rework set conditions ingeniously. 1? The breadcrumbs in the opening credits (the photo of someone dangling from the hands of a clock tower), the setup of the McFlys and Biff and how it adjusts once Marty returns, the alterations Marty does in the past, the Twin Pines to Lone Pine Mall, Goldie Wilson’s past and present, the invention of skateboarding at exactly the moment in time it would’ve emerged (ditto Rock n’ Roll), and Marty arriving back 10 minutes early catching the Libyans driving by the Clock Tower and the DeLorean. Capped by Marty running to the mall watching Doc’s “death” and the entire previous escape happening in real time and the aftermath then sprinting over to Doc finding him alive and the reveal. This is established and executed so subtlely and is the blueprint of seamless time manipulation in a movie.

2? The close of 1 reinterpreted to start adding that extra takeaway of Doc’s when Marty asks “Do we become &$$%+@#$ or something?”, the reformed Biff seeing them leave, the Future and its insinuations of Marty and Jennifer’s “future”, Biff and his grandson Griff, Biff remembering the DeLorean and overhearing Marty and Doc escalating to him stalking them to Hillsdale, Biff stealing the time machine and bringing it back only to erase from existence in the future, Doc and Marty meeting up once they realized 1985 had altered and the breadcrumb of Biff’s broken cane, Biff’s confessional and it matching the two Biffs meeting in 1955, the addition of Biff’s grandmother (voice only) in 55, Marty observing his mother and Biff on the morning of November 12th 1955, and Doc brushing across his 1955 self in the center of town and Marty trailing Biff at The Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. The wider view of George decking Biff, Marty stealing the book, Biff’s goons locking on to the wrong Marty, Marty climbing above the Johnny Be Good number and knocking out the threat, and Marty spying on himself with his parents and being disabled by his other self. The time paradoxes in motion in Part II are as assured as Part I and like you it enthralls how easy to follow it is.

3? The reprise of II’s ending expanding Part I’s ending, Marty and Doc sleeping in Brown’s 50s mansion in the morning post-Thunderstorm, Marty actually fiddling and even wearing Doc’s inventions from Part I while Doc reads his own letter, the tombstone and the picture taken and how the name on it and its appearance varies with events, Doc’s 1885 photograph and its evolution, and the fax ala Part II becoming blank once Marty refuses the dare which doomed his life. Part III isn’t as extensive as II’s twists though some of II’s housekeeping and III’s remaining story have greater temporal play than most films. These are the summit of time disruption narratives and Groundhog Day (1993) is right with them

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Burned in my memory. The time loop and the transformation.

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Primer, is (and possibly always will be), the greatest sci-fi film about time travel and how utterly, utterly confusing it’s going to be when there are different or aborted timelines when you go back and stop your previous selves from doing something.

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That said, sometimes when you’re stuck in a time loop, there’s nothing else for it but to build a dodgeball cannon and make all your other temporal copies fight to the death.

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Not exactly like the OP said, but since Back to the Future II was mentioned with revisiting the first movie, I have a TV example:
Trials and Tribble-ations from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”

Going back to the original series episode, interjecting the DS9 crew into there (Including O’Brian getting to lie to Kirk).

And an explanation of why Tribbles kept falling on Kirk’s head after the majority of them spilled out on him. XD

Also, something they couldn’t do in the show, but the novelization actually had some further interactions (like there were brief talks with McCoy and Bashir in the novel).

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There’s an excellent and haunting short film called 12:01 PM about a man (Kurtwood Smith) who is stuck in a time loop that lasts only one hour. You can watch it here:

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A choice example. Very nice. Visiting preexisting episodes or movies and interacting and/or augmenting them somehow is implied by the topic.

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revenge trent GIF by South Park

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It’s a controversial pick, but I’m going with Palm Springs because I feel like it’s the best representation of how I would react if I found myself in “one of those infinite time loop situations.”

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I love Time Loop stories.

My favourite film of the 21st century is, “About Time.” The poster makes it look like a Rom-Com, but it is so much more.

Best time loop books I’ve read are Reply by Ken Grimwood, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North and Recursion by Blake Crouch.

replay


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One thing I wonder and have never seen addressed - the affect of time loops on human biology.

If every reset resets your biology, too, then you’d never remember you were time travelling, because your neurons would return to their previous state.

If it doesn’t, then you’d just appear to those around you to rapidly age because your cells would just keep doing their thing.

Bill Murray’s character obviously spent years in his loop, but he didn’t age or forget, which is OK from a storytelling aspect, but doesn’t seem right from a biological one.

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