Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun!

It's just barely possible I saw Journey to the Far Side of the Sun in the theater in 1969. I have some nagging memory of that, but no certainty. I've long wanted to get another look at, especially in light of rediscovering so many great Gerry Anderson productions such as UFO, Space:1999 and Captain Scarlet and the MysteronsThunderbirds among others to my collection.

This movie was called Doppleganger in Europe, a name which has a proper mystery to it and of course points quickly the theme of the flick which features many of the classic Anderson touches. After years of puppets on television the Andersons wanted to break into live action and especially into film. They certainly the technical chops for it, but as this movie demonstrates, there's a lack of thematic depth which holds the work back.

The story is a simple enough affair. A new planet is discovered on the far side of the Sun in 2069 and Eurosec director Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark) wants to send men there, but it costs a lot of money. To fool the U.S. into being the sugar daddy for the operation, Webb allows the secret discovery to fall into the hands of the Soviets. This triggers a team up between Europe (Britain really) and the U.S. with Roy Thinnes showing up as ace astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross. Along with Ian Hendry in the role of Dr.John Kane, the two train then eventually head to the new planet. Crashing upon a arrival they discover that the world they have arrived at seems almost like the one they left.

This movie is a wonderfully quiet and technically sound presentation of space flight. The characters are by and large restrained with just enough personal intrigue to tell them apart. The movie seems to want to tap into the 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe with some psychedelic sequences and an ending which really does evoke the classic Kubrick space opera. The biggest problem with this movie is that the payoff doesn't really measure up to the build-up. The discovery is curious, but doesn't seem to sufficiently challenge the protagonists enough to make me really care about their fates. It's all a bit too low key all the time.

This is a beautifully fabricated movie, but it sadly lacks enough of a point to make it elevate to a really rich viewing experience. If I actually did see this movie when it came out, I'm realizing why it left such a vague memory.

NOTE: This is a Dojo Revised Classic Post.  

Rip Off


  1. I remember this film being shown on TV when I was about 9 years old but shortly before it was due to begin something went wrong with our TV so my father asked a neighbour if I could watch the film on her TV and she agreed and even made me sandwiches.

    1. Nice memory. I am not nearly so close to my neighbors as to ask such a thing. Well, maybe one. Sci-fi was so rare back then, these events stand out.

  2. Fortunately -- in the L.A. area anyway -- there was no shortage of sci-fi, horror and fantasy films on the tube. A long string of horror hosts, as well. Can't say as I ever remember this one, though.

    1. I think in general sci-fi and fantasy was special back in the day. There were those Saturday cartoons, afternoon movies, and the relative rare theatrical release. There was some dark fantasy after ten, but I was too young for a while for that. We never had a horror host in my area that I remember, but the Universal sci-fi flicks were a staple.