Journey to the Far Side of the Sun

( 1 )

Overview

A previously unknown planet is discovered within our solar system, orbiting on the far side of the sun exactly opposite the position of the Earth, and at precisely the same speed. The European space agency Eurosec, headed by Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark), whose solar probe made the discovery, decides to send a manned mission to investigate, teaming America's top astronaut Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and British astro-physicist John Kane (Ian Hendry). Their voyage aboard the space vehicle Phoenix is supposed to take ...
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Overview

A previously unknown planet is discovered within our solar system, orbiting on the far side of the sun exactly opposite the position of the Earth, and at precisely the same speed. The European space agency Eurosec, headed by Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark), whose solar probe made the discovery, decides to send a manned mission to investigate, teaming America's top astronaut Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and British astro-physicist John Kane (Ian Hendry). Their voyage aboard the space vehicle Phoenix is supposed to take six weeks, but when the ship returns to orbit in only three weeks -- ending in a crash of their landing vehicle that kills Kane -- Eurosec can only conclude that Ross has engaged in some sort of sabotage. The astronaut is at a loss as to how they could have done a round-trip in just three weeks, until he makes a startling discovery -- that everything that he sees, from the layout of rooms and buildings to all of the writing around him, is reversed, left to right and right to left. It takes Ross, amid his confusion, to arrive at the only possible conclusion -- that he and Kane did, indeed, journey to the new planet, and that world is a duplicate of Earth (and visa versa) down to the last molecule, a perfect mirror-image; and that world dispatched its own mission, with its own Ross and Kane. He and Webb, and Eurosec, scarcely have time to absorb the implications of this discovery -- if true -- as they prepare for a return flight for Ross, despite enormous risks and some potentially very dangerous unknowns in getting him back to the Phoenix.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
This science fiction/adventure film was one of the better works in the genre to emerge in the immediate wake of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey -- it was also notable as producer Gerry Anderson's first venture into science fiction involving live actors, as opposed to the marionettes that had previously populated his productions, on television series such as Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds. The problem is that Anderson and his production team didn't sufficiently change their methods, techniques, or approaches to their work -- so that except for the performances by Patrick Wymark, Ian Hendry, and, to a lesser degree Roy Thinnes and George Sewell, none of what we see is terribly fast-moving or animated; and Herbert Lom is all-but-wasted in what amounts to an extended cameo appearance. Audiences were apparently supposed to be absorbed by the elaborate model work and effects -- especially the explosions that come up mid-way through the movie and at the end -- and in theaters these were probably very impressive; but on the small screen, they lose their impact. Additionally, the basic concept of the plot, an ultimately doomed (indeed, planet-altering) effort to explore a newly-discovered world on the far side of the sun, doesn't hold up under the treatment it receives here. The pacing is lethargic, and long stretches are given over to the quasi-psychedelic effects of suspended animation on the two (or four) space travellers involved. Those languid minutes kill the already shaky momentum behind the story, which is a fascinating idea, about two parallel, identical planets orbiting opposite each other around the sun -- what should have been a good sci-fi thriller ends up being more frustrating than anything else, for the opportunities that that missed. (And, apparently, the execution was so low-key, that the plot and content eluded one television production executive working for Turner Broadcasting in the 1980's -- the idea of two opposite, mirror-image Earths, on which everything is reversed, was achieved by "flipping" the film for the second half of the story; but some genius on WTBS, thinking the print had actually been flipped by mistake midway through, ordered it reversed and "corrected," so that those watching this movie in its early WTBS presentations couldn't see the mirror
eversal of the two worlds that unnerved Roy Thinnes's astronaut, and were almost as confused at home as the astronaut was supposed to be on the screen . . . . ).
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/24/2008
  • UPC: 025192603822
  • Original Release: 1969
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Subtitled / Dubbed
  • Time: 1:42:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 29,658

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Roy Thinnes Col. Glenn Ross
Patrick Wymark Jason Webb
Ian Hendry John Kane
Lynn Loring Sharon Ross
Loni von Friedl Lise
Herbert Lom Dr. Hassler
George Sewell Mark Neuman
Franco Derosa Paulo Landi
Ed Bishop David Poulson
Philip Madoc
George Mikell
Vladek Sheybal
Technical Credits
Robert Parrish Director
Sylvia Anderson Producer, Screenwriter
Gerry Anderson Producer, Screenwriter
Bob Bell Art Director
Brian Burgess Production Manager
Barry Gray Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Donald James Screenwriter
John O'Connor Sound/Sound Designer
John O'Connor Sound/Sound Designer
Harry Oakes Special Effects
John Read Cinematographer
Geoffrey Rodway Makeup
Len Walter Editor
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Disc #1 -- Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
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      Subtitles: English SDH
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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Honor list of sleeper thrillers

    Journey to the Far side of the Sun is a rare gem of a movie --it has the essence of a Greek high tragic epic. In its far ranging thrust to the far side of the Sun, it brings to mind the epic reach of Homers The Odyssey. The film's action -- a European space mission beyond the Sun, along with its release in the fall of 1969, coincided with the lunar landing of Neal Armstrong and NASA's Apollo 11 crew. The work is a study in the synchrony/asynchrony, all in search of a balance, equipoise -- akin to the Greek axial age of Pythagoras/Pythagoreans at Delphi, seeking to balance Dionysos' abandon with Apollo's wisdom.
    Journey's basic dramatic premise is that a planet mirroring Earth exists on the opposite side of the Sun. This brought to mind the great Greek nature philosopher, Pythagoras, whose cosmic scheme for the 'Kosmos' he both conceived and named, envisaged as did the film, a 'Counter Earth' on the far side of the Sun. Journey's mysterious twin planet on the other side of the Sun, as had Pythagoras counterpoised Earth and Counter Earth to the Earth, both circling about the Sun in his conception of a heliocentric planetary system. This was in contradiction to what Aristotle, some two centuries later erroneously deemed a geocentric universe. Aristotle also took umbrage at Pythagoras' concept of a Counter Earth calling it a "plug" to complete his (Pythagoras) Table of Planetary Spheres so it constituted "the perfect Pythagorean number ten."
    All this mythic lore came to mind on seeing Journey once again. On second viewing, it confirmed my memory of the twists and turns in its complex plotline. Throughout the film there is a pattern of 'counter' conventions. Such as, the plot starts with counter espionage, (ferreting out a mole). A counter love interest, (Col. Ross loves his wife, but she doesn't love him). A counter courtship, (rather than the man chasing the woman, the woman chases the man). During the three-week journey pass the Sun, the images all switched from clockwise to counter clockwise, as well as an inversion of light and dark. Each observer will have a different take on the film; such is the rich texture of its allusive images. The two images that had greatest impact on this viewer of director Robert Parrish's Journey were first, the shot of the mirror-image reversal of the film's protagonist, Col. Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and the closing shot of Dr. Hassler, the Eurosec Space Administration exec. in charge of the failed mission (played to the hilt by Patrick Waymark).
    A key image: earthling Col. Ross discovered in the 'mirror-reversal' shot of his Counter-Earth 'double' (the films German title being Doppelganger 'Double'), a familiar term in German expressionist films. Col. Ross held up to the mirror a bottle prominently labeled 'COLOGNE'; the viewer reads the reversed lettering in the reflection. A historically contextual aside, could this be a subtle allusion to the destruction of the German city of Cologne, which in 1942 was the target for "the Millennium Raid" of one thousand heavy bombers that pulverized all but the famous Cologne Cathedral? Journey's powerful last image of the now psychologically devastated director of Eurosec's failed mission, immobilized, confined to a wheelchair, wheels down a corridor towards a full length mirror that shatters as he crashes into it. His horror stricken face last caught in grotesque extreme close up, and a quick cut to the mirror's hail of glass shards, talk about a boffo climax.

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