Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
Runtime: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
Director: Robert Parrish
Release Date: 11/11/69
Cast: Roy Thinnes, Ian Hendry, Lynn Loring, Patrick Wymark
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is a 1969 British science fiction film that was originally released in the UK under the title of Doppelgänger. However, after the film’s US release it became better known as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun.
In true Twilight Zone style, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun tells the story of two astronauts trapped in a parallel universe. The European Space Exploration Council sends American astronaut Colonel Glenn Ross and British astrophysicist John Kane on an expedition to a new planet that is located directly across from Earth on the other side of the sun. However, their rocket crashes en-route and they find themselves back on Earth-or do they? Clues lead Glen Ross to the realization that they are not on Earth at all, but rather on a parallel universe that looks exactly like Earth except that everything is a mirror image of what it should be. They are on the Doppelgänger Earth-one that is nearly identical to the Earth they are familiar with, but not quite. The writing is backwards; the furniture in Ross’ house is set up backwards; the people drive on the wrong side of the street; and everyone’s internal organs are even the reverse of our own.
Ross tries to explain to the European Space Exploration Council that he is actually from the “real” Earth and that the Glenn Ross that the doppelgangers sent to “his” Earth must have switched places with him, but nobody will believe him. When he finally convinces them of the truth it may be too late for him to return home.
In theory, this plot could serve as the makings for a very good movie. Unfortunately, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun missed the boat. While it may have made a nice short episode of Twilight Zone, as a full length film the plot grows a bit stale. The movie is full of long, drawn out scenes, none of which add any new information or excitement to the plot. The film seems to take itself too seriously, without any break for smiles or laughs. A little bit of the ol’ British humor might have done this film some good!
The movie does make up for the dull plot with the occasional top-notch special effect that is way out of its league for 1969. However, there are just as many special effects in the film that are a disappointment. The inconsistency between the qualities of effects has lead many critics to ask whether or not the makers simply ran out of money or time before they were able to finish the film. This could also account for the fact that the plot ends abruptly, without relevance.
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the producers of the 1960s television series Thunderbirds. The style of the film is reminiscent of other Gerry Anderson productions including UFO and Space: 1999, though these productions followed Journey to the Far Side of the Sun. People who enjoyed these productions are likely to enjoy the film more than viewers who aren’t familiar with Anderson’s other work.