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Review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Filming of the Douglas Adams Classic

From Newmarket Press comes this deluxe guide to the Guide in its 2005 feature film form. Early on in the book editor Robbie Stamp and text writer Paul Simpson highlight this 1995 comment by The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy creator Douglas Adams: "I'm very confident that the film will actualy go into production any decade now." One decade later, and four years after Adams's untimely death at the age of 49, his baby The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy—already a radio series, five novels, TV mini-series, and computer game—hits the silver screen as a Touchstone film starring Martin Freeman as Arthur Dent, Mos Def as Ford Prefect, Zooey Deschanel as Trillian, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Stephen Fry as the Voice of the Book.

This 184-page hardcover packs in 400 color photos and comments from much of the production team, including Stamp, Fry, director Garth Jennings, producer Nick Goldsmith, co-screenwriter Karey Kirkpatrick, the design team, puppeteers from the Jim Henson Creature Shop, the special-effects team, and even Warwick Davis's dresser. With a focus on the creative choices of Jennings in tandem with his designers, the book's sections cover the principal characters and all of the major settings: Earth, Vogon bases, The Heart of Gold, Magrathea, and so on.

Readers can examine in detail photographs of proposed props and design drawings that were rejected, as well as the final versions deemed camera-ready. For example, almost fifteen different versions of the Guide prop fill three pages, followed by "screen shots" of the Guide and early concepts of the same. Reproductions of Vogon signs (helpfully translated) make it possible to identify the motto "Need help? SUFFER" on future viewings of the film. Glossy stills reproduce scenes from the film and exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses of the poor sods zipped and packed into the Vogon and Marvin costumes.

Learn the fine points of wrangling mice and when during the film to don your old 3D glasses. Browse through the colorful elements that resulted in the look of Magrathea, from production art to sets to digital compositing. Enjoy fiddly bits of dialogue from the film and books. Trivia that will be of use at cocktail parties fill the remaining space: where to find Douglas Adams's family in the film, the identity of the noses in Humma Kavula's temple, and the plans for the scrapped original ending of the film.

In all, fans of the film will salivate over this fancy companion book, even as they long for more, like elaborations on story development, cast insights, and the seemingly inevitable publication of a shooting script (Stamp refers in his acknowledgements to a print "deadline that was just short of impossible"). With sequels likely, can a sequel to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Filming of the Douglas Adams Classic be far off?

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