When scientists a hundred years into the future discover a "duplicate" Earth on the other side of the sun, the stage is set for tense science fiction adventure and suspense. Determined to find out what this new world is li... more »ke, the Western nations of Earth set up an expedition headed by former astronauts Roy Thinnes and Ian Hendry to reach the new planet. All goes according to plan until the spaceship makes a crash landing on a planet somethree weeks earlier than expected. Have the space travelers actually returned to Earth or are they on some strange mirror-imageworld where they must prove who they really are or die trying? This imaginative space adventure offers a journey few will ever forget.« less
Christopher Dalton | Louisville, Kentucky | 10/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One thing you've got to hand to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. Not only were they on the forefront in terms of creating excellent science fiction with wonderous costumes, sets, and the like, they also create science fiction with an excellent, if not bizarre twist to it. Much like 2001 and Planet Of The Apes. They would go on later to create Space:1999(another science fiction classic).I first saw Journey To the Far Side Of The Sun at my grandmother's on a Saturday afternoon, watching it on the Saturday afternoon movies portion on one of the local television stations, and I must say that I was totally blown away by its plot twist. A mirror-Earth on the far side of the sun. And the explosive ending where astronaut and U.S. Air Force Colonel Glenn Ross(played by the great Roy Thinnes)tries to make an emergency landing in his spacecraft. The film was definately a quantum leap in science fiction. Especially with a plot twist that would have made a good Twilight Zone episode. Everything about this movie was great. From the plot to subplot, to the acting, etc. It is truly a cult classic among fans, especially those of the Andersons.Roy Thinnes, as always, does an excellent job with the material he is given. From an astronaut that has marital problems, to being in a weird and bizarre situation, he does an excellent job of playing someone who is in the most strangest of circumstances. The other actors also do an excellent job as well. The soundtrack by the late Barry Gray, very powerful and moving. Especially in the scene where Thinnes is in front of a mirror in the space center administrator's office, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.If you enjoy science fiction with a twist, be sure to check out this film. Man has gone to the moon. Now take another extraordinary journey!"
Long out of print cult gem back at last!
Paul Carson | Oregon -- United States | 03/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bust open your Major Matt Mason figures, sixties sci-fi at its best is back! From British cult science fiction legend Gerry Anderson, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (aka Doppelganger) has been unavailable for ages, short of paying over seventy-bucks for it on eBay! Now it's back! We'll have to wait 'til June to see if there's anything juicy on this edition, but at this price -- considering how scarce it's been and how unbelievably cool it is -- preordering is a no-brainer, kids.
All through the sixties, Gerry Anderson was making a name for himself with supremely high quality marionette "Supermarionation" entertainments like The Thunderbirds, all too often dismissed as "kid stuff." His productions continued to evolve --showcasing some of the best special visual effects anywhere -- and by the late sixties he was ready to make the jump to working with actors and using a wider canvas. Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is his first big reinvention. I'm leaving most of the plot for you to discover on your own, let's just say we're talking astronauts and jaw-droppingly cool vehicles -- always an Anderson trademark -- a mysterious planet and some mind-bending discoveries across the gulf of space... After Journey, Anderson continued his quest to deliver live action via TV series such as UFO -- probably one of the best cult series EVER, featuring many cast members from Journey -- and Space:1999.
If you grew up during the sixties on a diet of afternoon syndicated sci-fi matinees, you probably already know Gerry Anderson. He's nothing short of a cult legend. If you haven't discovered his live action work, you're in for a treat. The Oscar-nominated special effects in Journey to the Far Side of the Sun are simply phenomenal! Make sure you've got your seatbelts fastened!
Among cool sci-fi acting icons, star Roy Thinnes is probably one of the all time best, certainly one of the most underrated. In addition to this gem, he's appeared in the X-Files and many other fantastic films. And it's a great time to be a Roy Thinnes fan, because The Show of sixties cult shows that made Thinnes imortal -- The Invaders - The First Season -- is also coming out on DVD on May 27th! If you've never seen that one -- you are in for something truly special. A Roy Thinnes character will go where few others dare to and look trouble right in the eye. In sci-fi from this era, he was the definition of cool.
Sure, it's fashionable and fun to poke a little fun at sci-fi from this era -- with hard-drinking, nehru-jacket wearing astronauts and psychedelic production design, you may think you're on a journey to the "Far Out" side of the sun -- but this is one sensational era in the evolution of modern science fiction and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun showcases the talent and vision and pure command of entertainment that makes Gerry Anderson a pure treasure. Highly recommended."
A+ for a B Film from the groovy 60?s
Michael Pinto | NYC, USA | 02/04/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a low budget cross between James Bond and 2001. Produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, this video is a must have for any fan of the television series Space:1999 or UFO. While the plot (which is right out of a standard Twilight Zone episode) can get a little bit thin, the attention to detail makes up for any flaws. Every inch of the production is crammed with futuristic gadgets, mod furniture and cool looking spaceships, cars and airplanes. You really get to taste a 60's view of the "future" filled with video teleconferencing, x-ray security checks and a space program plagued by budget cuts. Graphic designers will love the look of the opening titles which contrast minimal typography with high tech photography (by the way the titles are the only part of the movie which are sort of in letterbox). Despite wooden acting and a slow editing pace, you will find yourself in love with the look and feel of this film. No it's not a "great film", but there is some nice model work, good art direction and decent music to keep a sci-fi fan entertained."
Little-known but enjoyable late '60s sci-fi
A reader | 08/27/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Doppelganger" a/k/a "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" was the Andersons' first live-action production. It's an atmospheric, moody, well-produced piece of science fiction, unusual for its day in that despite the (relatively) high production values and excellent special effects, it focused on feelings of alienation and isolation rather than on action. It has a rather leisurely pace, especially compared to films which cater to the attention-span-deprived audiences of today, but I didn't find it slow or boring at all (with the exception of a spaceship sequence which lasts three minutes but feels like an eternity).
Fans of the Anderson's live-action series "UFO" (whose production immediately followed this film) would get a real kick out of "Doppelganger." There are plot similarities (the head of a multinational space agency has to struggle to get his missions funded), and 11 of the actors went on to appear in "UFO," including series leads Ed Bishop and George Sewell. Interestingly, many of these actors fill roughly the same function in "Doppelganger" as they do in "UFO," including Sewell as an operative who gets a lot of the dirty work done, Vladek Sheybal as a somewhat sinister doctor who works for the space agency, Keith Alexander as a communications operative/announcer, and, amusingly, Norma Ronald as the agency head's receptionist/secretary (she played exactly the same part as Miss Ealand in "UFO"). Also making their first appearance in "Doppelganger" are "UFO"'s life-size futuristic cars and jeeps (they were given a new coat of paint for "UFO," but I must say they look better in "Doppelganger").
The plot is fairly simple. In the near future (I don't recall if the year is specifically stated), Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark), the agency head, is proposing a mission be sent to investigate a newly-discovered planet which matches Earth's orbit but exactly opposite the Earth, on the other side of the sun. After initial resistance from the member countries, and the discovery of a spy, Webb is able to convince the American representative (played by Bishop) to kick in a billion dollars, which gets the ball rolling so that the other countries eventually accede. The rocket is launched with two astronauts aboard -- the agency's British chief scientist John Kane (Ian Hendry), and an American astronaut, Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes, fresh from his success as the lead in the U.S. series "The Invaders"). The astronauts crash-land on the planet, and then the plot thickens...
It takes about half the film to get that far. Much time is spent showing the skullduggery involving the spy, the preparations of the astronauts for launch, the launch itself, and the crash landing, but there's plenty to keep the viewer interested. There are several small touches which add depth to the film and help to create a believable world. Webb is the same kind of driven, borderline-obsessed leader that Bishop plays in "UFO." Ross is a rather stereotypical macho U.S. Air Force kind of guy, but his wife (played by Thinnes' real-life wife) is an unpleasant character who is rather cruelly manipulating him. Some reviewers here have criticized the film by saying it's very Twilight-Zone-like. It's a bit of a superficial, easy-to-make criticism, but in some ways it *is* rather Twilight-Zone-like in the way the plot unfolds and in its distinctly uneasy, shadowy, sometimes downright creepy tone. After a surprise twist is introduced following the crash-landing, the film seems to take a sharp left turn, and progresses to an even more surprising, completely unexpected ending.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the screenplay (by the Andersons, with help from Donald James). It seemed to me a step above the Andersons' TV shows, even the ones (like "UFO" and "Space: 1999") that were specifically geared for adults. Every line of dialogue had a specific purpose and helped either to drive the plot forward or to establish the mood, often accomplishing both simultaneously. My only real complaint about the script is that I think the Andersons were a bit too taken with both "2001" (which had premiered the previous year) and the Bond films. The business towards the beginning with the spy (played by famed character actor Herbert Lom) played out in a very Bond-like fashion, and the seemingly endless spaceship sequence alluded to above is reminiscent of "2001," but without Kubrick's filmmaking genius to keep the viewer interested.
Much as I enjoyed the plot and the dialogue, I have to admit that my primary pleasure in watching the film was from the production values. While the Andersons were reportedly unhappy with Robert Parrish's direction, I thought it was a well-directed film. There's a lot of very stylish camera movement, and the camera work dovetails nicely with the extremely satisfying sets. The sets of "UFO" and even of "Space: 1999" can feel somewhat cramped (although this is logical given where the shows take place), but in "Doppelganger" the added resources allowed for vast, expansive sets which really helped create a believable future world. The camera glides around and caresses the sets and actors in a very effective way. There's also very good use of fast cutting to increase the tension in certain scenes. The film is so well-made that I was able to watch it twice, hardly ever losing interest. I particularly liked the opening credit sequence (I assume Parrish was responsible for it) which shows computer tapes and punch cards, ironically juxtaposed with Barry Gray's soaringly emotional music. Parrish was an Academy-Award-winning film editor, and I don't understand why he didn't have more success as a director. He only directed three other films after this one.
As with the Anderson's TV shows, the model work is absolutely brilliant. The models are so well-done and well-shot, they give the illusion of great mass, even when you know it's just a model. During the rocket launch there are several shots of the rocket on the launchpad which are are astoundingly realistic. I simply am in awe of the care and attention that the model-makers must have put into their work. Once in space, the shots which include the visibly-spinning Earth are simply stunning, with the atmosphere visible as a soft white glow surrounding the planet. Then we come to the unfortunate sequence where the astronauts leave their command module and transfer to the on-board landing vehicle. I timed the sequence and it was three minutes, perhaps not that long after all, but the film just grinds to a halt.
The best effects sequence is the crash landing of the landing vehicle. It's very impressive, in fact it's quite hair-raising. It looks as one might imagine an actual crash landing would look, with point-of-view shots showing the rocky landscape zooming by and the ground coming alarmingly closer. I don't think any subsequent film's crash-landing sequence has surpassed this one. The actual crash and subsequent explosions are also impressive. And there then follows possibly the eeriest moment in the whole film, when Ross sees a round light like a spotlight hovering above the crashed lander. We have no idea what kind of life, if any, is on this planet, and out of the night and the mist and the smoke from the crashed lander, a spotlight shines through... it gave me goosebumps!
Another common criticism for this film is that the acting is wooden. Again, this is a criticism often made of the Andersons' live action productions and sometimes I think people say it just because they've heard other people say it, and it sounds clever given the Andersons' previous marionette shows. I thought the acting on the whole was excellent, particularly Patrick Wymark as agency head Webb. An intense actor, I do believe that while not as handsome as Ed Bishop, he could easily have played Straker in "UFO." I was surprised to discover that he was only 42 when the film was shot (he looks much older). His career really seemed to be taking off at that time, he shot several films in the 1968-70 period, but sadly he died in 1970.
It's interesting how different some of the actors look between their appearances in "Doppelganger" and "UFO." Ed Bishop looks handsome but not exceptionally so in "Doppelganger," but I think it was ingenious of Sylvia Anderson to put him in the blond mod wig for "UFO," because it makes him look quite striking. And George Sewell, who is a stocky and friendly presence in "UFO," looks almost sepulchral in "Doppelganger," with his hair darker and slicked back. Ian Hendry as Kane did a good job. I liked Thinnes but I wish he had been given a bit more to do, perhaps some more interaction with his wife. His character is a bit blank and cold, we never really know much about him.
And of course no review would be complete without mentioning Barry Gray's wonderful music. In fact, except for the production values, I would say the music is the best reason to watch this film. It's Gray at his best, a truly cinematic score which takes full advantage of the bigger budget compared to TV. The already-mentioned opening title sequence and the scene where the spy develops his photographs are standouts. Much effective use is made of the Ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument similar to a theremin, to produce eerie sounds.
I'm baffled that the film world didn't sit up and take notice of this supremely talented composer. Unless I'm mistaken, Gray didn't compose any films after DOPPELGANGER, and based on this score alone, I would have thought film producers would have been breaking down his door to get him to score their pictures.
I have to say, I don't really know how I feel about the ending. On the one hand, the unexpectedness of it is quite intriguing. It also has a certain cold elegance and logic. But my problem with it is that the events at the ending occur not because of anyone's character, not because of what anyone does. Thus, the ending seems a bit calculated and forced, and pointless as well, because no one learns anything, no one grows or develops as a result. Here, the Twilight Zone criticism does perhaps have some merit, because this kind of ending is really more suited to a short story or a half-hour episode of an anthology TV series, where the ideas are more important. But perhaps it's less appropriate in a film, where we've invested two hours in the plot and gotten to know and (to some extent) care about the characters.
All in all I found it a fascinating film and quite enjoyable."
"Z" MOVIE WITH "A" SPECIAL EFFECTS
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 05/11/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The plot of JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN could have been the subject of a good sci-fi novelette but is too weak for a 100 minutes movie. The idea is the following : there is a symmetric earth behind the sun. So why not go there and see what's on this planet.Actors are very serious, the clothes very 1970 in an action set at the beginning of the 21st century I presume. But what is truly a surprise in this movie is the quality of the special effects ; in my opinion, they are the best I have seen, except for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY of course, in a movie of the sixties. You have to see the final explosion to understand what I mean.Special features reduced to the minimum : english subtitles and a scene access.A curious DVD curious A."