Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun (1969/aka Doppelganger/Gerry Anderson/Universal
C+ Sound: C Extras: D Film: C+
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
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.
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.
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.
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