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THE HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY! (article first published : 2005-07-21)

It took 20 years to bring to the big screen. It’s one of the most anticipated films of the year and it’s opening on the South African film circuit on the July 29.

Based on the books by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a story known to millions around the world. From physicist Stephen Hawking to former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney to fantasy filmmaker George Lucas, artists, scientists, philosophers and hipsters around the world fell in love with Adams’ brave new world.

It all begins with Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman), a typical guy having a very bad day. Arthur’s house is about to be bulldozed, his best friend turns out to be an alien and, to top things off, it appears that Planet Earth will be demolished in mere seconds to make way for a hyperspace freeway. Arthur’s only chance for survival: hitch a quick ride on a passing spacecraft, with the help of his best friend Ford Prefect (Mos Def). Jetting off into the complete unknown, Arthur makes some major discoveries about the true nature of the universe. He finds that a towel is the most massively useful thing a person can carry. He uncovers the precise meaning of life.

Originally started as a radio series on the BBC in 1978, the story went on to become a five-part trilogy of novels, a BBC TV series, a groundbreaking computer game, the subject of college courses and more. And now this cultural phenomenon has been turned into a big-screen movie.

The film version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy pays homage to the spirit of irreverence and invention that have made this story so enduring. Using an eye-popping mix of state-of-the-art and old-school special effects, the film propels audiences - whether long-time fans or the as-yet uninitiated - right out of everyday reality and into a side-achingly alternate universe that plays by its own set of rules.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is directed by Garth Jennings, who makes his feature film debut after cutting his teeth as a founder of one of the UK’s most innovative young production companies, Hammer and Tongs. The screenplay is written by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick and is based on Adams’ book.

The unforgettable characters that Douglas Adams cast off into space come to life through the work of an ensemble of actors that includes Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Charlie’s Angels) as the two-headed, three-armed president of the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox; Mos Def (The Italian Job) as Ford Prefect, Arthur’s best friend; Zooey Deschanel (“Elf”) as Zaphod’s girlfriend, Trillian; Martin Freeman (The Office) as Arthur Dent; Bill Nighy (Love Actually) as the planet designer, Slartibartfast and John Malkovich as religious cult leader Humma Kavula, an original new character created by Adams specially for this movie.

Also appearing in cameos are members of Douglas Adams’ family, including his daughter, brothers and sisters—as well as one of the original cast members of the radio series, Simon Jones (who played the original Arthur Dent).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has captured the imagination of filmgoers – even those who don't know their Slartibartfast from their Babel Fish.




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