Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Lovers of funny movies were saddened this week to learn of the passing of Harold Ramis, the actor, director, and writer.
Ramis tickled our funnybone with film comedies that included Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2, Groundhog Day, Caddyshack, Stripes, National Lampoon's Vacation and Animal House, Analyze This and Analyze That.
Although he was responsible for writing, producing, and directing all of these films, he only appeared in a few of them, notably the Ghostbusters series and Stripes.
We remember Ramis most as the bespectacled scientist Dr. Egon Spengler, one of the members of the Ghostbusters team that also included Bill Murray, Dan Ayckroyd, and Ernie Hudson. Here is the climactic scene from the film where Ramis, as Spengler, comes up with the solution of crossing streams to get rid of the ghostly menace threatening to destroy New York City.
In case you're wondering, yes, there is a Jewish angle to Ramis' work. (And a tip of the kippah to Yonina Rosenbluth for sharing this with us). Back in 2009 Ramis gave a talk to the Hudson Union Society where he reflected on the enduring quality of Groundhog Day, in which he played a minor role as a neurologist while directing it. It seems that religious groups of every denomination have adopted the story as a metaphor for their take on repeating the same actions day after day, which is the central point of the film.
In a video clip which we can't embed in this blog but can give you the YouTube link here, he comments on how a group of Hasidim outside the theatre picketed the theatre in which the film was being shown, not protesting, but holding signs asking "Are you living the same day over and over again?" He also compares the film with the Torah being read repeatedly year after year. The Torah doesn't change, but we are different each time we read it.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)