Monday, May 02, 2005

There are some fine additions: a new character, a new device (both technological and plot), possibly a new Question to the ultimate answer, and a rescue in the nick of time effected by turning in the proper request form. There is even a solution to the problem that bedeviled Douglas Adams from his first attempts to construct a film from this material: after you've destroyed the earth in the first act, what do you do for a climax? All this, plus the wonders that only a feature film can produce---the tour of earth under construction was amazing---are reasonable compensations. They stimulate the imagination in other ways.

Though Douglas Adams wrote several versions of the screenplay, this was twice removed from the original Hitchhiker---Adams always liked the radio version best. We get his voice in the books certainly. But I felt the Douglas Adams connection come alive in the film, too, so for me that's one thing that makes it a success. Even despite the Hollywood/Disney ending, which is quite different from the morose sort of acceptance and affirmation of life that ends the other versions.

The first "Hitchhiker" series was broadcast on the BBC in 1978. Douglas Adams was working on the screenplay in Los Angeles in 2001 when he died suddenly of a heart attack at age 49. The filmmakers (including director Garth Jennings and scriptwriter Karey Kirkpatrick) had to keep in mind the considerable existing fan base (as do all story "franchises" since Star Trek fans). But they also seemed to have a sincere affection and fascination for the Adams universe. The film dedication, to "Douglas" seemed true.

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