Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) – Blu-Ray Review

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is the American title for Doppelgänger, a film that is now generally known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun elsewhere as well. It’s one of those sci-fi films that came out in the immediate wake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a movie whose influence over the film is debatable. It’s best known as the last feature film that Gerry Anderson of Supermarionation fame was involved in—Anderson was a producer and writer on Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.

It’s a fairly straightforward sci-fi film of that era: there is a mission comprised of two astronauts sent by the European Space Exploration Council to explore a planet similar to Earth on the far side of the Sun. The duo consists of American astronaut, Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes), and British scientist, John Kane (Ian Hendry). One is seriously injured, but it seems like they are back on Earth… or are they? 

The film certainly isn’t some great lost classic of the genre, but it has very impressive special effects given the time… not 2001 good, but what is? If you go back and watch Anderson’s Supermarionation shows, unlike ThunderbirdsStingray and Captain Scarlett they really expertly photographed and the special effects work is sensational. The cast are a mixture of fairly bland British and American TV actors, including some who would appeared in Anderson’s TV shows. 

The film was released in 1969, so it undoubtably was in the shadow of two science-fiction films that came before it: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes, which marked a seismic development in what science fiction could be in the eyes of critics and audiences. Journey to the Far Side of the Sun has some very interesting ideas and an enigmatic ending that seems like a clear riff on that of 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s. Given the fact that Kubrick’s film came out a few months before production started, it’s inconceivable that Anderson, his wife Sylvia Anderson, and the solid, workman-like American director Robert Parrish didn’t have that in the back of their heads while making their film.

It’s a real cult curiosity. It may not completely work, and it flies a little too close to the sun, but Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is worth checking out, especially if you are a fan of Gerry Anderson and/or late ’60s science-fiction cinema. 

The release from Fabulous Films includes a theatrical trailer and a double-sided sleeve with all new artwork by Graham Humphreys.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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