In the 2005 version of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Heart of Gold appears thus:

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In Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, there are two ships with similarly round designs and thin horizontal windows for the bridge.

The Aries 1B, most similar in shape:

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And the USS Discovery, whose windows more closely match, and has a circle in the center (open here). However, it has the long tail section:

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I don't think a connection is improbable (wink wink). Do we have any information regarding whether or not the design process intentionally made the HoG look this way, or does Zaphod Beeblebrox just have Kubrician taste?

  • Of course, in the books, it looked like a tennis shoe. One could easily argue that the ship looks like all sorts of things as the IID is used, and this is simply what it looks like at the moment. – VBartilucci Apr 7 '16 at 20:25
  • @VBartilucci It took me this long to realize you were talking about the Infinite Improbability Drive. What a week. – user31178 Apr 9 '16 at 1:47

It appears not. According to an inside look at Cinesite, the company responsible for the film's visual effects, the good ship Heart of Gold was originally modelled after a teapot (emphasis mine, and some punctuation added):

An important consideration in the concept was adding humor to the effects. Stylistically we had to make sure that the visual effects fit in with the style of the movie. We worked very hard to integrate the effects. They were sort of comedy visual effects, explains Johnson. The director didn't want it to be too perfect, He was always putting in these little quirky bits to help blend our stuff into the film. In the book, the Heart of Gold was sculpted in the form of a giant tennis shoe, but the production wanted something more visually exciting and modern. Ultimately the design became a spherical porcelain teapot with a blue mural willow pattern. This contrasted with the rectangular concrete blocks that made up the Vogons ships.

This is sentiment echoed in a BBC interview with Matt Johnson, one of the effects producers:

"Garth [Jennings, the director] would often see early visual effects and say 'that's fantastic but it is too perfect,'" Mr Johnson says.

A classic example was the Heart of Gold spaceship - ludicrously modelled on a teapot, it comes across as a less than reliable craft.

Based on Johnson's comments in that interview, it seems as though the CG team started with a teapot-shaped model, and then streamlined it until it looked a little more believable. Although I haven't found any comments explicitly refuting the link, it looks as though any similarity to other fictional ships is purely coincidental.

  • There's such a concrete answer!? – user31178 Apr 7 '16 at 4:45
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    Perhaps we should wonder why the ships in 2001 are modeled on a tea pot? – Jeremy French Apr 7 '16 at 20:54

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