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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Thriller > British > Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun (1969/aka Doppelganger/Gerry Anderson/Universal DVD)

Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun (1969/aka Doppelganger/Gerry Anderson/Universal DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C     Extras: D     Film: C+



When Stanley Kubrick was developing 2001: A Space Odyssey, he wanted to talk with Gerry Anderson about visual effects (often by Derek Meddings) and the innovative model work his hit shows like Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett delivered.  Though no official collaboration resulted, it is said that some of the Anderson crew people landed up working on Kubrick’s classic just the same.  Many films then raced to capitalize on Kubrick’s work and one of the first was an Anderson production called Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun released a year later after 2001 in 1969.


Roy Thinnes was coming off of the TV classic The Invaders (reviewed elsewhere on this site) and was paired with the great Ian Hendry, still pursuing big screen stardom after leaving The Avengers in the early 1960s.  A good pairing, they play astronauts on a secret government mission to discover a strange new planet near the sun, but something is not quite right about it and why is it surfacing now?  Despite being top secret, there are spies trying to find out about mysterious rumblings and since this is Cold War time, could get prized information they could sell to the highest bidder.


But there may be forces beyond what anyone may immediately understand and that becomes the twist in the film, as the screenplay (By Gerry & Sylvia Anderson and Donald James, who worked on several Anderson shows as well as The Avengers, The Saint and Mission: Impossible) is ambitious and interesting, but has problems holding together in the end.  Still, it is an interesting film and is never boring, thanks to its groovy sets, gadgets, cars, clothes and technology (supposedly 100 years in the future, but looking more like a time capsule too often) is full of surprises.


Then there is the great supporting cast that includes Ed Bishop, Patrick Wymark, Lynn Loring, George Sewell, Philip Madoc, Vladek Sheybal, Herbert Lom, Loni von Friedl and Nicholas Courtney that keeps this as real and alive as any Science Fiction film we’ve seen latterly, few of which have tried to be as intelligent.  Ironically, it is Danny Boyle’s Sunshine (2007, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) that this film reminds me of in theme and intelligence.  Robert Parrish, an actor-turned-director who helmed original Twilight Zone episodes and was one of several directors on the 1967 Casino Royale also deserves credit for making interesting choices throughout that up the suspense.


As far as imitating 2001, the Anderson’s would hit the nail on the head for at least the first season of Space: 1999 and only a few years after this would move from their SuperMarionation series to live action Sci-Fi with the grossly underrated U.F.O., but Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun remains yet another one of those underrated, ambitious British Science Fiction films like Zardoz or Z.P.G. that does not get the credit it deserves and is long over due for DVD.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a little softer than one would want, but for a film that was released in dye-transfer three-strip Technicolor, this looks very good and often like such a print would.  The inevitable Blu-ray should reveal more of longtime Anderson Director of Photography John Read’s work at its best.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is more compressed than it should be and can sometimes be a chore to hear, but other times, dialogue and the Barry Gray score are good.  Too bad this is not in stereo.  There are no extras, though you think they could have thrown in a trailer.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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