Before hour long car chases that would make Bullitt blush and enough pseudo-philosophy to choke a college freshman, there was the original Matrix, and before he became Neo, Keanu Reeves was just a dude named Thomas Anderson. In fact, if you'll recall the film's opening, Anderson is sleeping at his desk when a bunch of dudes dressed in leather knock on his door.
"Not today guys, I've got yoga in an hour."
He goes to a hollowed-out book and hands them a disc that is handled as if it's both hugely important and secret (the guy pays two grand for it). The guy even says, in a not-so-subtle hint to Neo's destiny, "You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ."
By spoiling the sequels, this man just saved four hours of your life. Thank him.
But what was on the disc? What piece of software could be worth $2000 and would have to be picked up in person? The movie never tells you, and shortly thereafter, Neo meets Morpheus and gets caught up in, you know, the actual movie. For years, fan speculation about the content of the disc has ran amok, with some even surmising that it somehow proves that Neo invented A.I. or that they're other ship pilots, or that the disc has something to do with the code of the Matrix.
Because what The Matrix really needs is a more convoluted plot
What the Script Says:
Apparently, it's just software to clear the dude's parking tickets, so he must have a ton of the bastards to be willing to pay $2,000 for it.
An earlier draft of the script explains that the guy (Choi in the film, Anthony in the script) just wants Neo's help so he can get the boot off his car. The scene was probably originally meant to establish Neo's hacking skills (and to include a throwaway line about cops being "automatons" who are just told what to do by a computer).
"Fight the syste-aaaargh!"
Presumably, the Wachowskis figured out that they could just skip all that nonsense and tell the audience how awesome Neo is by ... having other characters tell Neo how awesome he is.
The great thing about Groundhog Day is that it's endlessly rewatchable -- it only gets better every time you see it. Part of the reason is that it's completely open to interpretation; numerous essays have been written about the meaning of the film, and in fact, some Buddhists have adopted it as a modern symbol of their religion.
Bill Murray: The current incarnation of Buddha, apparently.
Part of what makes it great is that the film doesn't bother with why he's trapped in this endless loop of the same 24 hours. It doesn't matter; what matters is that this one man gets what many of us wish we had -- endless chances to fix his mistakes. And when he finally figures out what he's doing wrong, the loop stops.
What the Script Says:
Actually, it was Phil's ex girlfriend.
The second draft of Groundhog Day is pretty close to what we saw on the screen, except for some additional scenes with Phil in the studio at the beginning one at the end where he and Rita go out to the street ... oh, and the part where his ex puts a curse on him. As in, she opens a book of magic spells and does a little ritual that causes him to get stuck in time.
Which sadly makes more sense than "the groundhog did it."
Near the beginning of the script we meet Stephanie Decastro, Phil's recently dumped girlfriend. Later, as Phil is going to bed in Punxsutawney, we see intercut scenes of Stephanie in her room, using Phil's business card and broken watch (conveniently frozen at 5:59) to perform a magic spell from a book titled 101 Curses, Spells and Enchantments You Can Do at Home. There's no deeper meaning or higher purpose here: It's just some pissed-off chick with a stupid book.
That's not the only mystery that's solved here -- the screenplay also specifies that Phil spends 10,000 years trapped in the loop, and it hints at a more definite answer as to why he comes out: It was apparently the kiss with Rita at the end that broke the spell, like in a fairy tale. Even in the filmed version, you can still hear a tingly "magic" sound when they kiss in that scene, even though it's not even close to the hottest kiss in the movie.
Andie MacDowell's got nothing on her.
Where do we even start? What were those big, black monoliths? Why do the last 15 minutes make us feel like someone made us drink a mescaline smoothie? Why is there a huge fetus in outer space?
How does this work?
Kubrick was known to be a perfectionist, delicately crafting each shot, every bit of dialogue, everything. So immediately after the film's release, critics, scholars and the forerunners of Internet movie nerds set out to discover just what was going on in a film that was clearly dense with symbolism.
Pictured: Symbolism. Not pictured: Pants.
But if they really wanted to know, they could have just read the script.
What the Script Says:
The script, co-written with Arthur C. Clarke (who also wrote the novelization), explains pretty much everything that goes on in a scene that takes up the last ten pages or so. It was meant to have a voice-over narration that laid out exactly what you had just watched, but then Kubrick threw it all out for a trippy light show. That takes balls.
Shiny disco balls.
It turns out that the mysterious monoliths were actually machines built by super-advanced aliens to help speed up evolution. That's why the apes who encounter the one on Earth suddenly become aware of what tools and weapons are. So when Dave gets sucked into a monolith at the end of the movie and then turns into a gigantic baby? He's just become a super-evolved life form, just like the aliens who made life on Earth.
Apparently being super-evolved doesn't mean you can wipe your own ass.
The novel's sequels explain even more, like the exact nature of the Star Child. He's a savior who destroys all of humanity's nuclear weapons and helps foster life on Europa, the ocean moon of Jupiter. Oh, and he merges with HAL at some point and becomes HAL-man and shit.
HAL-man also meets up with the man HAL killed by ejecting him
into space, making it the most uncomfortable sci-fi scene ever.
See? It all makes perfect sense now!
Maxwell Yezpitelok lives in Chile and does stupid comics, some of which have recently been published in Informe Meteoro, a new independent comics anthology. To read more of Ashe's work, check out weirdshitblog.com.
Want to know where Christopher Nolan got the idea for Inception? Then check out 5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck (Seriously). Or find out about 5 Badass Movie Characters You Won't Believe Were Based on Real People.