Friday, May 27, 2005

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Making a Better Movie 

Quite a novel experience for me: I've finally found a movie that's better than the book*. If I had 10 cents for every novel I enjoyed that was disappointingly adapted to the screen I would have enough money to buy at least a cheeseburger. But having first seen a few weeks ago and now having just finished reading "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" I can honestly say the movie is a great improvement on what otherwise is a one of the cult books of the late twentieth century.

Most films-from-books suffer from the fact that so much good material that adds to the plot, the color and the texture of the book has to end up on the cutting floor to make the finished product fit in under 2 hours running time. "The Guide" - made from a rather thin book - benefits from the fact that so much good material has been added to make the characters fuller and the plot more satisfying. The end result is a movie that's different and charming, and that's not an adjective I use very often with films. By contrast, I thought the book unfunny and rather pedestrian (here comes hate-mail from the purists).

(Mark Steyn (scroll down), by the way, is not as charitable to the movie - but then again, it's a very rare an occasion when a film tickles his fancy.)

This wouldn't be a political blog, without a bit of political trivia: while both the book and the movie are thankfully politics-free (at least in the overt, in-your-face way that Hollywood seems to be so fond of), in the book, Douglas Adams hints that the lead character, Arthur Dent, is a leftie, describing him as a regular "Guardian" reader. Since "The Guide" was written in the late 1970s, that's even scarier.

* I'm lying - come to think about it, I enjoyed "The Lord of the Rings" more as a movie than a book (here comes even more hate-mail).


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