The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a 2005 British-American comic science fiction film based on the book of the same name by Douglas Adams. It stars Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, Yassin Bey, Zooey Deschanel, and the voice of Stephen Fry. Shooting was completed in August 2004 and the movie was released on April 28, 2005 in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and on the following day in Canada and the United States.
The screenplay is by Douglas Adams (who died in 2001) and Karey Kirkpatrick; the film is dedicated "For Douglas."
The film begins with a narration from the titular Guide who explains that dolphins are actually the second smartest creatures on earth and that man is the third. The dolphins, knowing that earth was about to be destroyed, tried to warn man, but they only interpreted them as typical dolphin maneuvers. Their final message which was a "double backwards summersault through a hoop while whistling the star-spangled banner" that when translated meant "so long and thanks for all the fish". The dolphins then all take flight into space.
Arthur Dent wakes up to find his house about to be demolished in order to make way for a bypass. He tries delaying the bulldozers by lying down in front of them, though he still ends up arguing with the head contractor. Ford Prefect, a friend of Arthur's, arrives and offers the workers peanuts and beer to distract them before convincing Arthur to go to the pub with him. Over a pint of beer (as "muscle relaxant"), Ford explains that he is an alien from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and a journalist working on the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a universal guide book, and that the Earth is to be demolished later that day by a race called Vogons, in order to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
Arthur sadly reminisces over blowing his chance with an American woman named Tricia McMillan when he is reminded to check on his house, which has been promptly destroyed. Before Arthur can complain, a Vogon Constructor Fleet appears in the sky and announces its intent to blow up the planet. Ford uses his ring to "[hitch] a ride" as the planet is blown up. Ford and Arthur end up on the Vogon ship where the former gives the latter a Babel fish so as the understand alien languages. The two are discovered, forced to listen to Vogon poetry and are then thrown out an airlock, but are picked up by the starship Heart of Gold. They find Ford's "semi-half brother" Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy. He has stolen the ship along with Tricia, now going by Trillian, and Marvin the Paranoid Android.
Trillian is unaware of earth's destruction and Arthur is threatened by Zaphod not to bring it up, as he is directly responsible for the mishap. Furthermore, Zaphod possesses a second head under his chin that suppresses his "unpresidential qualities" and a third arm, surprising Ford. Zaphod explains that he is seeking the planet Magrathea, where he believes he can discover the Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything to match with the answer "42" given by the supercomputer Deep Thought. Zaphod stole the Heart of Gold to use its improbability drive to get to Magrathea through trial and error.
During one of these attempts they end up on the planet Viltvodle VI. Zaphod decides to visit Humma Kavula, his opponent from the election. Upon learning of Zaphod's plan, Kavula reveals that he has the coordinates to Magrathea. He takes one of Zaphod's two heads hostage and demands they bring him the Point-of-view gun created by Deep Thought, which allows the target to understand the shooter's point of view. As they are leaving the planet, Trillian is captured by Vogons. The others travel to rescue her from the Vogon home world bureaucracy, facing long lines and frustrating form processing. Trillian is outraged to learn that Zaphod signed the authorization for the destruction of Earth thinking it was a request for an autograph and scolds Arthur for not bringing it up.
Back on the Heart of Gold, Arthur and Trillian make up when the ship is suddenly chased by the Vogons, led by Galactic Vice-President Questular Rontok, who is attempting to rescue Zaphod from himself. As the Heart of Gold arrives in orbit above Magrathea, Arthur triggers the improbability drive to avoid the automated missile defense systems. The missiles transform into a bowl of petunias and a "very surprised looking" sperm whale.
On the planet, Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian take a portal to Deep Thought while Arthur stays behind as he was too cowardly to go through the dangerous looking portal before it shut off. When they ask the computer whether it has calculated the ultimate question, it reveals that it designed another supercomputer to do so - Earth. When the trio finds the Point-of-View gun, Trillian shoots Zaphod, making him understand how she feels about the destruction of Earth. She also finds out how much she loves Arthur, only for the three to be captured by two mice.
Arthur and Marvin encounter a Magrathean called Slartibartfast, who takes Arthur on a tour of the construction floor where Earth Mark II is being built. Slartibartfast takes Arthur home, where the others are enjoying a feast provided by pan-dimensional beings who were the mice from earlier. Arthur realizes he has fallen into a trap. The mice, who constructed Deep Thought, used the supercomputer to build an even larger supercomputer, the planet Earth, to determine the Ultimate Question. Believing Arthur, the last remaining supercomputer component, may hold the Ultimate Answer, the mice attempt to remove his brain. Arthur kills the mice.
As the crew regroup outside the house they are surrounded by Vogons and take shelter in a caravan as the Vogons open fire. Marvin is left outside and shot in the back of the head, and uses the Point-of-View gun on the Vogons, causing them to become depressed and unable to fight. As the Vogons are taken away and Questular rejoins with Zaphod, Arthur chooses to explore the galaxy with Trillian and lets Slartibartfast finalize the new Earth without him. The Heart of Gold crew decide to visit the Restaurant at the End of the Universe while Marvin points out they are going the wrong way.
- Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent
- Zooey Deschanel as Tricia "Trillian" McMillan
- Mos Def as Ford Prefect
- Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox
- Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast
- Anna Chancellor as Questular Rontok
- John Malkovich as Humma Kavula
- Warwick Davis as Marvin the Paranoid Android
- Kelly Macdonald as Reporter
- Steve Pemberton as Mr. Prosser
- Jason Schwartzman (uncredited) as Gag Halfrunt
- Edgar Wright (uncredited) as Deep Thought Tech
- Stephen Fry as Narrator/The Guide
- Richard Griffiths as Jeltz
- Thomas Lennon as Eddie the Computer
- Alan Rickman as Marvin the Paranoid Android
- Bill Bailey as The Whale
- Helen Mirren as Deep Thought
- Mak Wilson as Vogon Interpreter
- Ian McNeice as Kwaltz
- The League of Gentlemen as Vogons
- Garth Jennings as Frankie Mouse (uncredited)
- Main article: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (soundtrack)
Besides the soundtrack, two additional set tracks were released through iTunes:
- The Marvin Mixes are remixes of a new version of "Reasons to be Miserable", here performed by Stephen Fry, as well as a new vocal and a new instrumental track for "Marvin", also performed by Fry. Stephen Moore had recorded the vocals of both tracks in 1981.
- The Guide Entries are new spoken "Hitchhiker's Guide" entries, all read by Fry, with accompanying music by Joby Talbot (with further orchestrations by Christopher Austin), who wrote the film score.
Comparisons to the source
While the franchise has differed over its various adaptations, the film has differences that are unique to this rendition.
- The opening scene describing the dolphins leaving earth, happens later in the story. The original opening featured the Guide describing what earth is like (full of miserable people), before mentioning a woman, later named Fenchurch, figuring out how to be happy, only for the earth to get destroyed.
- Mr. Prosser's connection to Genghis Kahn is never brought up.
- Ford Prefect's attempt at stopping the constructionists from destroying Arthur's house is different. Ford is usually depicted coercing Mr. Prosser into lying in front of the bulldozer for Arthur; reasoning that he is willing to wait for him anyway regardless. The film has him providing beer and peanuts to everyone as a distraction (it is implied that he brought it for him and Arthur).
- The film is the only adaptation that Arthur and Trillian are depicted with an actual romantic relationship. In every other adaptation, the two are implied to be only friends, though in the books and radio series, Ford assumed that the two were a couple and Trillian, after getting married, accuses Arthur of having repressed feelings for her.
- Zaphod Beeblebrox two heads and three arms are usually out in the open in most adaptations. In the film, his second head and third arm are hidden away.
- The entire section where the crew visit at Viltvodle VI to meet Humma Kavula, followed by Trillian's kidnapping and rescue were invented for the film. However, Viltvodle VI and the Jatravartids are mentioned in other adaptations.
- The subplot where the crew must acquire the Point-of-View gun for Humma Kavula was invented for the film. However, Douglas Adams did come up with the concept for the prop, based on the Total Perspective Vortex from the other adaptations.
- Humma Kavula and Questular Rontok were invented for the film.
The film trailer featured voice over work by Stephen Fry as the Guide, describing the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's entry on movie trailers.
The "Hitchhiker's Guide to Technology" claims that if you make yourself a cup of tea and attempt to get an object working and the tea goes cold before you finish, you are dealing with technology. Other guides include the Hitchhiker's Guide to Blogging and the Hitchhiker's Guide to Deadlines and the Hitchhiker's Guide to How to be Cool which discusses how an individual can truly be cool, instead of by following crowds, but concludes by suggesting the listener attend a showing of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The Guide to websites HitchhikersMovie.co.uk describes a website as "a wonderful new invention that allows people you neither know nor care about to inform you what they had for breakfast this morning, without all that tedious mucking about in the postal system". The 'Guide to fanboys, written by Disney's copywriters as part of their promotion of the movie, only ever appeared as website text. Though released at the same time as the iTunes entries, it was never intended to be recorded and is otherwise unconnected with the Fry/Talbot/Browse works.
- According to the back cover of a 2005 novel, this film was originally going to be released by Walt Disney Pictures. This likely happened before it got its rating, because the final version was released by Touchstone Pictures.
- The decision to have half the cast be American was approved by Douglas Adams, after he pointed out that Arthur was the only character that actually needed to be British. Besides the fact that Ford is portrayed by an African-American, the book only mentions that his hair is wavey brown while Trillian in the book is described as "vaguely Arabic", yet is played by a Caucasian actress, though past portrayals have made her Caucasian.
- The movie had been in development hell for 15 years. At one point, Ivan Reitman was attached to direct and considered Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd for the role of Ford. They both instead offered that he help make Ghostbusters and left to do that project instead.
- Jay Roach almost directed the film with Hugh Laurie as Arthur, Jim Carrey as Zaphod and Nigel Hawthorne as Slartibartfast.
In 2019, a new television adaptation was announced for Hulu with Carlton Cuse as showrunner and Jason Fuchs also involved. The series had already been renewed for a second season and was expected to be released in 2021. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the series has most likely been delayed.
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