Thursday, May 05, 2005

Trillian, We Hardly Knew Ye

Guys like Arthur Dent, in Adams's version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, simply do not get the sexy and adventurous astrophysicist gals. Sure, Trillian was more of an ironic pin-up for very English science geeks than a psychologized character, but her independence, even in its opacity, could be read as a decent feminist punchline to the "say you and I are the sole surviving humans..." fantasy. Instead of resigning herself to her apparent cosmic destiny of becoming Mrs. Dent, she puts on go-go boots, helps steal a spacecraft, learns to work an Improbality Drive, and suggests that Arthur teach the computer how to make a decent cup of tea his own damn self. She had better things going on! She was an astrophysicist and an adventuress; she knew where the action was, and it wasn't with Arthur. And not in a mean way. Adams's staunch refusal to satisfy Arthur's fantasies on that subject was something of an important lesson to the adolescent version of myself that read those books.

Some movie spoilers through the link.

The new movie, which I otherwise quite enjoyed, engineers a love story between Trillion and Arthur. We get more insights into Trillion's psychology--in a new scene, Zaphod, Ford, and Trillian obtain a "Viewpoint Gun," and we learn that Zaphod is just the latest in a string of men Trillion has dated who are egomaniacal users--but little of her aspirations and intelligence. Never mind that the actor playing Trillian is a bit weak and that the actor playing Arthur manages that English trick of being at once drippy and charismatic. The Trillion of the books has made a series of rational calculations into her adventure; the Trillion of the movie is a space-age Bridget Jones who comes to the sentimental conclusion that Zaphod is just not that into her and that Arthur is the safer, sweeter man.

And here's what killed the film character for me: It is never mentioned that she's an astrophysicist. Narrative economy demands that Trillion be cut down to attainability.


Blogger Jack Naka:

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10/05/2005 05:58:00 PM  

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