Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I finally sat down and read the whole of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy in 2000, so when this Film Tie-In Edition came out five years later, I spent a silly amount of time at The Warehouse in Botany reading the lengthy afterword.

I needn't have bothered. A short time later, Tiger found a discarded copy while clearing out someone's room at the hostel!

This week I've finally got around to giving the afterword the attention it deserves.

Unfortunately, I still don't like the film adaptation that it's making excuses for.

I don't want to criticise anyone in particular. The people behind the film were predominantly friends of the original author, and the love and respect that they have for him is unquestionable. Repeatedly, this account speaks of wanting to be true to his vision, whilst simultaneously making a good movie too.

Before the film version, in my opinion, Hitchhiker's was great in all its various incarnations – radio, book, record, TV series, towel etc. However Hollywood has a reputation for making bad formulaic films, and compromising towards that was never really going to improve it. When I saw it 3-4 years ago, I felt they'd wound-up with a bad story, and therefore a poor representation of such a carefully-plotted yarn as Hitchhiker's.

To give an example, in the film, (as I recall) Zaphod's enemy hires him to go on a mission. To get a gun. Which Zaphod never thinks of using on his enemy.


The 1980s TV series did whatever it could to look futuristic. 20 years later of course it looked dated. So the film went for a retro dated 1980s-look.


And, I can only guess why, a great deal of the finely-honed comic dialogue was cut. Surely that was the sort of thing that had made the series so popular.

Having seen the film and formed my own opinions, of course I read this version with a heavy bias. However I think that's okay, as this is after all a piece of publicity, written from an entirely subjective point-of-view itself.

Though I felt the film missed Hitchhiker's subtle humour, there is one excerpt in here that gives me hope.

Amongst much ill-informed talk of how most other science-fiction films don't have much characterisation, the film's screenwriter imparts the following:

But second drafts are tough and third drafts are the toughest, mostly because you now know what doesn't work and your choices are becoming more and more limited. But I knew it was too long. And as Jay rightfully pointed out, you can't have a two-and-a-half-hour comedy. So I got Draft 2 down to 122 pages. Maybe one day, after the movie comes out, they'll let me post my first draft on the Web so I can say to all the fans who want to drag me to the nearest stake and set it ablaze, 'See! I wanted this in the movie, too! But they wouldn't let me put it in, I tell you! They wouldn't let me!'

His veiled assumptions about comedy films and fans aside, I would very much like to believe that that's why the film we got made so little sense. Maybe a longer edit of the movie might be released that fills-in all those plot-holes that it's so sadly undermined by.

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