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Thursday April 28, 2005 6:38 pm

The Final Cut: A Look at The Hitchhiker’s Guide Movie and History

Posted by Devin Categories: Features, Movies

Hitchhikers Guide GalaxyTime for another weekly column, Gear Live style. Our new columnist, Devin Roberson, will be bringing you the latest from the entertainment world each week in her column, The Final Cut. Why Devin? Well, for starters she is into movies and television. Secondly, she jives with our steelo. This week she gives us a bit of background on The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy:

This Friday gives us the release of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, a movie based on a 1978 radio comedy series by Doug Adams, who also wrote the screenplay(along with Karey Kirkpatrick) for this film.  Many fans of the Guide may also remember Adams’ “trilogy” of 5 books(the series was first dubbed a trilogy after the release of the 3rd book, and the title has stuck ever since) that he began writing shortly after the radio series: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979), The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980), Life, the Universe, and Everything (1982), So Long and Thanks For All the Fish (1984), and Mostly Harmless (1992).

In addition to the first radio series and the books, there have been many adaptations of the story, not to mention many cultural references as well.  This movie comes almost 30 years after the first BBC radio broadcast, and has been eagerly awaited by fans around the world.  Curious as to how the movie may end up?  While the 5 book “trilogy”, the TV mini series (1981), the video game (1984), and the two subsequent radio series based on the second and third books (1981, 2004) were all written by Adams and follow the same basic plot, there are many points in each version that contradict each other. This is due to Adams purposely rewriting the story for each version made. 

The Guide has gained a large following of fans over the years, with many paying homage to the story they enjoy so much, which in turn has created many cultural references over the years.  Here are just a few examples:

  • The name of the instant messaging program Trillian comes from the nickname of the character Tricia MacMillan.
  • In the Nintendo 64 game GoldenEye 007 one of the awards that players can earn in multi player mode is “Mostly Harmless”, which is the name of the last book in the “trilogy”.
  • On Comedy Central’s South Park, the character Towelie will often say, “Don’t forget to bring a towel.”  This phrase being very similar to the Guide’s advice.
  • When you enter, “what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything” in lower case letters as a search subject at Google, it will display, “the answer to life, the universe, and everything = 42”.  This is the answer the computer Deep Thought gave when asked the question.
  • The Alta Vista Babel Fish, a language translator, is named after the Babel Fish in the story, which is also a language translator.

This movie is sure to be as successful as all of the different versions of the story that proceeded it, and is sure to create an even bigger following with those who were previously unfamiliar with the Guide.  This new found interest will more than likely result in even more adaptations being made, not to mention many new cultural references as well.  So come Friday, see what all the excitement is about!  Take a trip to your local theater and hitch a ride with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” - oh, and don’t forget to bring a towel!

- Devin Roberson

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