What’s wrong with this picture?

From right to left, Ford, Marvin, Trillian, and Zaphod. If you don't know what this is a picture of, then you can safely stop reading now.

I came across this via a link from Scoble, who linked to a Greg Hughes Post. While it's pretty likely that I'm going to see this movie, having looked at this and watched the trailer, I'm worried that Touchstone is going to take a groundbreaking book and make a very average movie.

So, did you see it yet?

No, I'm not talking about Marvin, though I'm pretty sure that a) he has to have a cylindrical leg to be consistent with LTEAE, and b) he shouldn't be white, but I can allow a little liberty to be taken (though it does look like somebody misread "Brain the size of a planet" as "Brain the *shape* of a planet").

Nor is it that the fact that the trailer looks like a trailer from "Independence Day".


Count the heads.

In my book, if you don't have two heads, you're not Zaphod Beeblebrox.

With the current level of CGI sophistication, it's feasible to do a movie in which a character has two heads. Which means Touchstone *chose* not to do so. That makes me guess that the movie will roughly follow the story without having the right feel.


I'll be overjoyed if I turn out to be wrong, but if I'm not, I'll take some solace that Douglas is not around to see it.

Comments (21)

  1. If you watch the most recent trailer, there’s another head hiding in there somewhere. The one pulls back, and the other one appears. Same with his third arm. It’s apparently not always visible (as in the picture)

  2. Ricky Dhatt says:

    Not to fear, the 2nd head is in the movie; I saw it on the Amazon trailer. You see it "pop" out about three-quarters into the trailer.

  3. you should watch the last released trailer, the second head of Zaphod appears during a few seconds =) in facts, his second head is placed below his first, as i understood.

    but i agree with your opinion, it doesn’t respect the original book :/

    so, wait & see..

  4. James Curran says:

    On first seeing it, that was my opinion also, but on reflection… I think the "two-heads" is a better radio joke — where it can be refered to without actually being seen — than movie joke.

    To really to it right, you’d not only have to add a second head to the actor, but also digitally move his real head a few inches to the side, which would double or more the cost of doing it right, for a joke that’s funny at first and then becomes tiresome… Which bring us to the next point…..

    Constantly see Zaphod with two head interferes with the two-headed jokes in the book. While reading the book (or listening the radio play), it’s easy to "forget" he has two heads — until it’s the puchline of a joke. Then we remember, and it’s funny all over again. If you always see him with two heads, you can never forget about it, so the jokes don’t work.

  5. Steve R says:

    I think they are trying to hide the fact he has 2 heads in the trailer to surprise the people that haven’t read the books. But unfortunately thats who I think the movie is going to cater to, the people that haven’t read the books not the fans.

    I am disappointed in Marvin, I pictured him more to be like the bbc portrayal:


  6. Eric says:

    Thanks, all, I didn’t see that in the trailers.

    James: Your last point is one that I hadn’t thought of. I guess I’ll have to wait and see how that part comes out.

  7. Kevin Daly says:

    So it looks like Zaphod’s extra bits are safe, although the picture provides no hint of an answer either way to what’s really been worrying me (based on past experience):

    I pray (fervently, even) that Arthur Dent hasn’t been transplanted to the US: Arthur and his life are *very* English (down to the officious and sadistic local body official [unwitting descendant of Genghis Khan] in charge of knocking down his house), and it would ruin the story to change that.

  8. denny says:

    Don’t forget to bring a towel!

  9. You mean LT*U*AE, right?

    Or am I missing a joke?

  10. Ahh good ol’ Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. I actually have the original BBC make of the book. Amazon has it in case you want to see it before the new one.

  11. Roy Green says:

    PEOPLE OF EARTH! it is NOT "the original book".

    The radio series was first in 1978; the books were forced on DNA when the series became wildly popular (and he had to dish them out quickly in 1979). Finally, the TV series in 1981 (DNA always said he was unhappy with it). And the cardinal rule was, there is no cardinal rule. They all had major differences with each other. Oh, and there was also a play and a couple of records (which were not quite transfers of the radio series).

    Zaphod’s second face (not really a second head) is a bit of a cop-out, but James is right. The joke works better when it is not always out front.

    Arthur is English, but it isn’t clear where he is located. The pub in the trailer looks just like the pub in the TV series, so it may indeed be set in England, for as much as that’s worth.

    Trillian was English in the radio series, but American in the TV series, so Zooey Deschanel should fit right in.

    Alan Rickman is the voice of Marvin, so he should fit perfectly. As to Marvin’s shape, remember that he *is* from Sirius Cybernetics Corp, who’s marketing tag line is "Your Plastic Pal Who’s Fun To Be With". I never liked the looks of the TV Marvin anyway.

    My one question about the movie is whether they’re going to use the Eagles’ "Journey of The Sorcerer" anywhere (it was the theme song to both the radio and the TV series). I don’t like the music I hear on the trailer, but then they usually use drop needle tracks on trailers.

  12. Roy Green says:

    Ah, the newest trailer is now online, and features The Book talking, a couple of speaking lines for Marvin, and in the final montage, a strange shot of the main characters as sock puppets! oh, and falling whales and a girl in a bikini!

    Plus, if you don’t mind a couple of spoilers, the trivia section at IMDB.com has some information about the "faithfulness" of the file to the original.

  13. Darren Oakey says:

    Marvin’s too big…

    Zaphod’s missing his other head. I know he’s going to have it hidden somewhere, but we know he typically hides it by making it look like he’s wearing a birdcage on his shoulder – and I don’t see no birdcage!

  14. Merak says:

    Now the headcount thing is (sort of) settled, I think the worst thing about him now is how much he looks like Don Box…

    Did anyone see a bath tub in the trailer?

  15. Jason D says:

    I think the casting choice for Arthur was perfect. I am hopeful that the movie will be good, even if it’s not a direct translation of the books.

    I know Douglas Adams wrote most of the screenplay before he passed, and he *did* add some characters specifically for the film. Hopefully whoever took over the scripting duties after his death didn’t rip out most of his wit under the guise of making it more ‘accessible’ or something.

    As long as Zaphod behaves as Zaphod should, the location of his second head won’t bother me too much.

  16. Len says:

    the head is hidden as is the arm.

    I like this new marvin more.

    they better be faithful to the book or someones gonna hang the makers.

  17. Kyle Bennett says:

    From the site:

    14. "Does Zaphod have two heads? How did they film that? If not, er… it won’t be Zaphod, will it?"

    GARTH: Zaphod has two heads. We’ve used some brilliant special effects to bring it to life and it looks wonderful. It’s definitely Zaphod but no paper Mach? or eye patch.

    NICK: One of my favourite moments of the film was trying out the first Zaphod 2nd head tests with Garth and a video camera. There was a big smile on everyone’s face when we showed the results, because it really worked! As far as filming it was concerned it was never going to be easy, however hard we tried, we ended up using 3 different techniques depending on the shot to create the effect.

  18. Roy Green says:

    What Jason D said.

    The newest trailers (there are US and UK versions, with obvious differences) are both out. The good news for me comes from the UK version, which does use a reworked (not performed by the Eagles) cover of "…Sorcerer". And "The Book" (Stephen Fry) sounds about as close to the old "The Book" (the late Peter Jones) as can be.

    This movie may be more about the Vogons and Magrathea, plus the new stuff about the Jatravartidian religious sect. And it may end before Milliways and not even approach talking about the Golgafrinchams. Oh well, only so much you can fit in 110 minutes.

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