Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) Poster

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Tour the solar system on $5 a day
Swift-1223 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler Alert!! 100 years from now scientists discover a new planet in the solar system hidden on the far side of the Sun. It shares earth's orbit and revolves at exactly the same speed so that it has remained undiscovered until now.

A consortium of nations collaborate to send two men to the new planet. Security leaks frustrate their desire for secrecy. The two men crash on the surface of the planet and are surprised to wake up back on earth. They are accused of turning back halfway in their journey since a roundtrip flight would have taken twice as long as their trip.

One of the men dies of his injuries and the other becomes disoriented by his surroundings -- everything is reversed: cars pass on the wrong side of the road, words and letters are flipped. His interrogators are convinced when he can quickly recite lengthy passages of text read in a mirror. When an autopsy on the dead astronaut reveals that his organs are in reversed position, the conclusion is bizarre -- the men did indeed complete the journey but landed on a parallel/mirror-imaged earth. All matter is duplicated, and each person has a doppelganger partner on the far side of the sun. They attempt to return him. With disastrous results.

While it doesn't rank in the top tier of sci-fi classics, Doppelganger is still worth looking for. This film (aka, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun) is an oddity, beginning as pure SCIENCE-fiction then suddenly turning surreal -- almost fantasy. Slow by today's standards, it's intriguing if you put yourself in the mindset of its era, the space-race 60's. (Suiting up and preparing for blast-off was more carefully depicted compared to how someone would film it today) I'm particularly impressed by the art/costuming/production design; it doesn't suffer from a cliched "vision" of what the future would look like. It's a low-budget poor-relation to GATTACA in this regard. The movie indulges in some delightful "gee-whiz" gadgetry -- [A spy uses a miniature camera in his prosthetic eye to record holographic images. A trans-Atlantic flight ends with the craft disassembling itself on the runway so that the passenger section is carted separately for disembarking. Wrist-bands monitor everyone's vital stats and reminds them to take their meds.] This was the sort of attention to detail that embellished "2001: a Space Odyssey", but on a much cheaper budget. Often the miniatures don't look realistic -- but they were always very well crafted and painstakingly rendered. This included a large number of rocketry, vehicles and many outdoor sets (buildings, launch pads, roads). I admired them even in their artificiality; it lent a surreal tone to the project.

Roy Thinnes does a serviceable job in the lead (not his usual blandness) and it's fun to find another performance by Ian Hendry (whose brief career included the first season of TV's "The Avengers", and the sadistic guard Sgt Williams in THE HILL) Patrick Wymark is good as the pushy authoritarian who heads up the project. After the fateful conclusion -- where all evidence is destroyed that might prove the existence of the Doppelganger world -- he is left as a broken mumbling invalid. The film ends as he rolls his wheelchair excitedly into his mirrored reflection.
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A wonderfull flashback!
Lost_cow23 November 2002
I'll admit that like many others here this is a movie I've seen many times as a kid in the 70's. :)

The concept and story are just wonderfull. My favorite type of sci-fi, the kind that makes you think and doesn't completely bombard you with special effects.

Speaking of special effects, without spilling any beans I can say if you like The Thunderbirds, you'll love the SFX in this movie.

Gets a 8 on 10 for me.
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Love it or hate it
x56427 September 2003
Most people who enjoy this film enough to sit through it multiple times probably first saw it, as I did, during their childhood back in the late 60's - early 70's. It was one of the first science fiction movies I saw as a child and it made enough of an impression on me for me to remember it decades later. It was more thought-provoking than your average 1960's "space opera" and the special effects were among the best of its time (second, at the time, perhaps only to '2001' which came out about a year earlier). And although the people behind it were definitely influenced by Kubrick's earlier masterpiece, it contains enough original thought to be fascinating in its own right. Most adults who didn't see this movie when it first came out will probably be too critical to be able to enjoy it if they were to watch it now. As for today's younger audiences, they would probably tend to measure it by the standards of today's movies with their much more advanced special effects and simply dismiss the film as too archaic for their tastes. Unfortunately, this movie is probably destined to languish in ever-increasing obscurity as its original audience gets older and eventually fades away...
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10/10
Really Cool!
ubi-guy10 November 2003
I had never seen this movie before it aired on a local cable sci-fi network. It reminded me of the Irwin Allen TV series of the late 60's (Time Tunnel etc). Excellent effects (they beat Star Trek 5 done 20 years later, but then that wasn't very hard to accomplish).

I found the script very intriguing and mature for this type of production. They would have needed a few touch ups to tie some loose ends on the characters' level, but for a kid movie its surprisingly interesting (especially the the glimpse at futuristic euro- politics, surprisingly similar to today's European Union!)

The plot is indeed reminiscent of Twilight Zone in general (as other users have pointed), but in this case it's a compliment.

Great sets, by the way!

7/10
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Flawed but fascinating. Possibly the most underrated SF movie of the 1960s.
Infofreak26 November 2002
'Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun' is quite possibly the most underrated SF movie of the 1960s. It certainly has some flaws - especially the lack of character development, and a few ponderous sequences seemingly modeled on '2001: A Space Odyssey', released the previous year - but if you overlook them you'll find a quietly intelligent and fascinating movie that deserves to be rediscovered. The brains behind this movie were Gerry and Sylvia Anderson best remembered for their wildly entertaining marionette TV shows such as 'The Thunderbirds'. This movie was their first foray into live action SF and in some ways was the precursor to their 1970s cult series 'UFO'. Ed Bishop, George Sewell and some of the other supporting cast members went on from this movie to that TV show. The real stars however are Roy Thinnes, best known at the time for 'The Invaders', and Brit character actors Ian Hendry and Patrick Wymark. Hendry was the star of the little seen first series of 'The Avengers', and also appeared in Polanski's disturbing 'Repulsion' (alongside Wymark), and the camp classic 'Theatre Of Blood' with horror legend Vincent Price. Wymark appeared in another Price movie 'The Conqueror Worm', and starred in 'Blood On Satan's Claw'. Thinnes, Hendry and Wymark are all very good in this movie, albeit a little too cold and remote for my liking, but that is obviously the script's failing not the performers. I haven't mentioned much about the plot of the movie wary of spoiling it for those who have never seen it. Suffice to say it involves the discovery of a hereto unknown planet in our solar system. The less you know about it after that the more you will enjoy it. Overall, despite the script problems and one or two other minor criticisms I highly recommend this movie to all SF fans who prefer ideas over action.
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8/10
Not the film it should have been
Cornpop27 March 2005
Fans of Gerry Anderson's productions will recognise several actors and vehicles from UFO (which was made after Doppelgänger) - as well as sound effects from various Anderson series. Barry Gray's excellent music (mostly unique to this film) adds to the feeling of familiarity. For these reasons alone, I think any Gerry Anderson fan would find Doppelgänger worth getting.

Judged simply as a film, it has to be said that Doppelgänger is flawed. It is known that there were major problems during production, and I suspect this is why there is a time-consuming plot thread that ends abruptly and appears to have no relevance to the rest of the story. Presumably time/budget constraints prevented the relevance from emerging!

Distractingly, the special effects range from outstandingly good - better than any 1960s film that I know of - to disappointingly bad.

Nevertheless, even with these flaws, Doppelgänger's main story is well told and keeps the viewer (or, at least, this viewer) engaged throughout. The ending is perhaps not what one might expect from Anderson, yet at the same time it is typical of Anderson, and it is certainly appropriate. To find out what I mean you'll have to watch it for yourself. :)
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7/10
Poignant and disturbing little gem with a unique feel
lemon_magic7 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
All right, I'll grant you that some of the science in "Doppelganger" (or "Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun") is kind of dopey.The idea of an entire planet existing undetected (because we can't see it on the other side of our sun) doesn't hold up at all - any Astronomy 101 student knows that another planet the size of Earth would cause gravitational perturbances in the motions of other planets. That's how astronomers deduced the existence of Pluto, after all, and that's how they find comets and asteroids and moons on a regular basis.

And the idea that a mirror image Earth somehow evolved in almost perfect parallel to our Earth, down to English speaking scientists and human counterparts for each human born on our Earth...that takes things out of 'hard science' fiction and into "Twilight Zone" territory. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it requires a major suspension of critical thinking to accept and enjoy.

But man, this movie knocked my socks off as an adolescent. I was still used to fairly cheerful, upbeat science fiction films when the hero won through in the end - even "2001" could be interpreted as having an 'upbeat' ending.

But in this case: Thinnes attempted to dock with his orbiting mothership so he could return to his own Earth, only to be bounced back out of his docking berth (Something about 'the polarities not being reversed because his 'doppelganger' wasn't doing the same thing. Apparently Thinnes' 'doppelganger' had decided he was happy in his new home.) Thinnes' ship started the descent back to the CounterEarth launch site, and I was certain that he would somehow get the damaged craft to land safely and try again, armed with the new info that would let him and his backers succeed. He was The Hero after all, and the Hero always wins through in the end.

Instead, Thinnes couldn't maintain control of the crippled craft, and the ship's subsequent crash into the launch site was so horrible and devastating that it killed everyone (except for the chief project leader) and destroyed all records of the project and Thinnes' existence. Thinnes never got to go home, and he perished uselessly, his secrets never revealed.

Except for the Planet Of the Apes series, I had never seen such a sad and downbeat ending, and it always stuck in my mind - especially the ferocious devastation of the crash scene near the beginning of the move (you knew that spaceship was NEVER going to fly again!) and the one at the very end.

I'd love to see this movie again, and see how well it held up over the years.
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7/10
Undiscovered Sci-Fi Gem
virek21330 January 2002
What if there were a parallel world to Earth's always hidden from us on the other side of the Sun?

This is the question that astronauts Roy Thinnes and Ian Hendry ask themselves when they discover a parallel world of Earth always hidden on the far side of the sun in this 1969 cult science fiction melodrama, released here in America as JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN. The plot of the film was devised by British writers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the creators of such TV shows as "UFO", "The Thunderbirds" and "Space 1999". It is exceedingly weird at times, betraying the influence of "The Twilight Zone" and even Stanley Kubrick's 1968 sci-fi classic 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The visual effects work of Derek Meddings, who would also later work on SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, holds up surprisingly well under the last four and a half decades of special effects advancements (including CGI); and while they are not really on the same exalted level of the Kubrick film, they are very superb. If you don't anticipate a STAR WARS-type of a film and can overcome the occasionally trite dialogue, DOPPELGANGER is a good film; it was good enough for me to rank it a '7' and consider it an undiscovered sci-fi gem.
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A favorite of mine from my teenage years
jphuber19598 December 2001
I never claimed this film to be a masterwork. But, when I was a teenage boy, growing up during the Apollo project and the original Star Trek years, I found this film to be imaginative and thought provoking. The music score was especially to my liking - I didn't realize why at the time, but later in my career I came to understand what a fine composer Barry Gray was (I'm a school band director). The criticism offered in many reviews is unjustified. I recently purchased the DVD edition to add to my collection of 1950-77 sci-fi films (the "pre Star Wars" era). I always have held the film as one of the best of the era, largely because of its appeal to the emotions of "awe" and the film's visual and musical effects. Well worth owning, and far better than most of the junk produced during this era (with exceptions such as George Pal films, and of course, the entire Star Trek franchise).
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7/10
A Thinking Person's Sci-Fi Film
In this film, the astronauts sent to explore a newly-discovered planet must deal with several dilemmas, and they do so intelligently. The film approaches it's main plot theme in a unique way, and unfolds it gradually, though it can be guessed beforehand.

The acting is very good, though sometimes stiff, as some late-60s acting can be. It can also be somewhat wordy and even melodramatic, especially after the plot theme reveals itself. Visually, it has a scene that resembles one in the previous year's "2001: A Space Odyssey", and that tends to date the movie. Some of the actors went on to star in the 1970 TV show "UFO," which is delightfully campy and worth checking out on DVD.

Despite these small points, the space flight itself is realistic, and considering this was 1969, the scenes inside the cockpit of the spacecraft also had a realistic look. (Look for some 1990s/2000s video technology in use, too!) One thing: I suspect a love scene has been cut, but I can't prove it! It would have been a distraction anyway.

Unlike most Sci-Fi films, this film will make you think about the plot, and that's well worth a look. I'm pleased to have this film in my video library.
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10/10
Dated in it's own time but still excellent!
zillabob1 September 2006
Gerry Anderson's first live-action foray in the way of a major motion picture that benefits from incredible model FX work and,a great Barry Gray music score. The reel-to-reel analog computers, in the far-off year "2069" (I guess Anderson really wanted a safe date of a 100 years later!) are a hoot to see as are the guru-jacket fashions, but one could easily accuse 2001 of the same violations, but no one could have foreseen some things as they turn out. This film was the springboard for the series UFO the following year, and in fact not only had the same FX people, and producers but many of the cast were regulars in that show.

It always comes off like an "alternate history" future more than anything else-the "Apollo-like" rocket used in the lift-off, it always seems like this is really another planet than earth. Given the "alternate earth" plot, one would assume that was the feeling they wanted. We end up with an ending that posits more questions than answers. That because the "other earth" exists every movement, event and thing said is duplicated as it's happening on both worlds. Because of that given, and the sun in between, the two versions of the same person (in this case Glenn Ross, astronaut) can never meet. A complete accident discovered the planet in the first place when it would have most likely stayed a secret forever.

Filmed mostly in Portugal with FX work in England, it's a must-own for any Gerry Anderson fan. I have the Image bare bones DVD from a few years ago now out of print, but one hopes Universal will re-release it with, perhaps extras and even a Gerry Anderson commentary.
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7/10
Interesting enough to rent.
shiloh-73 February 2000
Interesting premise; interestingly worked out; the strongest feature of this film is the emotional tension of the astronaut who knows a truth, but is unable to convey it to others. Overlook the weaknesses and just enjoy the movie, but be prepared for a certain level of suspense.
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6/10
An old favourite.
MuggySphere11 May 2003
One of my favourite films, whenever it is on, although I do admit one time missing it when it was on Foxtel last year.

Despite the age of the film it doesn't look like that and the story even though it'd been done a thousand times before still felt entertaining. There were one or two little niggles for me in the story but I looked past them and just enjoyed the film for what it was.

Overall I give it a 7/10
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5/10
An intriguing idea
bkoganbing25 November 2014
How well I remember seeing this made for TV movie when it finally got over to this side of the pond on American television. This British made for TV film has a most intriguing idea, but it could have been better conceptualized.

Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun begins with the discovery some time in the future of a planet never seen before which is 180 degrees on the same plane diameter on the opposite side of the sun. Naturally the European Space Agency and its head Patrick Wymark want to make a voyage, certainly not in a straight line I hope or things could get hot for the astronauts.

Picked to go are American Roy Thinnes and British Ian Hendry. What they find there is something pretty frightening.

A lot's at fault here. I would think that an opposite Mercury and Venus would have been discovered as well, but no mention of that let alone the planets farther than earth from the sun. And while this body moves with'the same speed exactly across the diameter of the orbit the others certainly would have been noticed before even our time.

I also don't think the marital issues between real life husband and wife Roy Thinnes and Lynn Loring have anything to do with the main plot and add nothing.

An interesting idea not well thought out.
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6/10
Interesting, Thought Mediocre--CONTAINS SPOILERS
bean-d25 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" (1969) is a beautiful movie with impressive special-effects (given the year) and is well worth watching, although ultimately disappointing. Part of the problem lies with the script. First, the initial fifteen minutes of the film feature some impressive espionage by Herbert Lom for which he is murdered, but this vignette seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the film. Second, the main theme of the film--that a second, identical Earth has been found behind the sun in orbit directly opposite of our Earth--is never explored beyond the superficial. Apparently the only things that distinguish this second Earth are that words are backwards and our internal organs are on the opposite sides. Oooh, wow. Perhaps if the producers had not spent so much time in the filming of the space-flight special effects, they could have dedicated more time to exploring the paradoxical effects of a reverse Earth. Still, the film does have an allure; you can feel the sincerity of the filmmakers.
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Symmetry
dbdumonteil21 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
In a symmetry in relation to a centre ,the image is reversed ,like in a mirror.That's what happens in " Doppelganger" ,one of the most underrated imaginative and fascinating film sci-fi has ever produced.Funny how Robert Parrish can be praised for his westerns (such as "the wonderful country" ) and how his only attempt at a science-fiction movie can be passed over in silence.

"Doppelganger" was certainly influenced by Kubrik's "2001" (the journey,the psychedelic effects) but it predates Shyalaman's works by thirty years.Other prominent influences include Lewis Carroll and Jorge Luis Borges.If the first part is a bit talky,(but it does have the strange sequence of the glass eye),the second part is a model of what clever sci-fi should be .The way the hero discovers that he is not on his planet is absolutely mind-boggling.The last picture,which might mean that everything happened in Webb's mind is downright disturbing and makes sense in a terrifying manner.As strong as the final sequence of "planet of the apes" (1968).

There's life in the mirrors.

NB :"Another earth" (2011) imitated the subject,with much less imagination .
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Flawed but interesting sci-fi flick with a certain Kubrickian ambiance
chaos-rampant19 January 2009
Oscar winning editor Robert Parrish (for BODY AND SOUL) directs this sci-fi flick about the discovery of a new planet in the solar system, located in the diametrically opposite direction from Earth and sharing the same orbit. An expedition is mounted and dispatched to explore the unknown planet for signs of life and unexpected things happen as soon as they set foot there. Even the most ardent sci-fi fan will have a tough job defending the concept of the movie, as many of the scientific ideas are suspect at best, while others work purely in the realm of fantasy. Yet that doesn't stop the movie from being fairly entertaining and watchable throughout. Shot in English studios and Portugal, this Universal production benefits significantly from a major budget, as the sets, special effects and miniature work were top notch for their time and still work admirably well. The detonation of the spacecraft set to a score eerily reminiscent of Strauss's Thus Spake Zarathustra theme; the late 60's trippy psychedelia of the space journey towards the sun; the space sequences; all these indicate not a passing resemblance to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. What 10 years ago would've been a schlocky attempt at atomic horror filled with space monsters, one year after Kubrick's magnum opus opts for an air of majestic grandeur. The main problem with the film is the weak script and under-developed story which never appears to go anywhere, lacking direction and focus. It's still nice to look at though, it has some nice SFX and good acting, particularly by Patrick Wymark and Herbert Lom.
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5/10
A Sinistral Look
johcafra27 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm glad to see this guilty pleasure re-issued on DVD, even absent observable extras let alone selectable scenes. Let's get this straight from the start: For its place in the genre Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is no worthy successor to the magisterial 2001: A Space Odyssey, but to this day I admire the Century 21 Supermarionation productions if only for their craftsmanship and earnestness, the sheer effort that had to require, and the sheer fun that had to inspire.

Towards the end of the Supermarionation run for syndicated television you could tell Century 21 was moving towards live-action. I can only infer that Journey continued the trend with the increasing sophistication of the special effects and the box office from the two feature-length Thunderbirds films. The syndicated live-action television series "UFO" and The Protectors would soon follow.

Unfortunately, the more live the action the more serious, the less fun, and the greater challenge posed the viewer to suspend disbelief. Most unfortunately, Journey suffers from a characteristically padded and uninformed script (air/sea rescue in Mongolia?) premised on howling bad science (whilst conducting their orbital "electronic survey" our intrepid astronauts couldn't just switch on the wireless and LISTEN?) and ending with disappointing ambiguity (was it all a flaming--???). If you're still intrigued by the premise but want more meat on the technical bones you'd do better to read Arthur C. Clarke's short story "Technical Error" and Martin Gardner's The New Ambidextrous Universe (and, most recent, Neil F. Comins' What If the Earth Had Two Moons?).

And Yet: Flashes of directorial style, genuine suspense and delightfully parched wit. An astronaut's dream sequence superior to Jordan Belson's fleeting counterparts in The Right Stuff. If you must call the musical score cheesy, call Barry Gray's cheese artisanal. Near-seamless transitions between live action and in-camera miniatures, a Derek Meddings trademark. A production designer who must've been delighted to not have to work with colanders and matchbook covers. And a director and cast who must've agreed to do their very best with what they had and take their chances with that. In spite of yourself you will want to stay to the very end.

Journey earns five stars at best, the fifth awarded out of fondness, with an E for Effort.
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7/10
A Back to front world.
Feararamac22 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw that this film was being aired on late night TV I initially decided to give it a miss. I am glad that I then started watching. Yes the special effects are the same as Gerry Andersen's puppet shows. Some of the actors/actresses are from his other productions, he obviously used the same composer later on, as the cheesy soundtrack could only have come from one of his productions, and the plot is as slow as a wet weekend. Get by all that and you have a film that shows up intriguing possibilities. Is there a planet on the far side of the sun? Is it a duplicate earth? Is everything about it reversed and if so do they speak English in reverse? I love this dated SF if only for Gerry's wonderful model cars, planes, buildings and spaceships. Some of them are not so far fetched as they seemed back then. And did you see the European Space Centre logo? Very reminiscent of the Euro logo of today. Suspend belief and spend a couple of hours watching this, you will be glad you did.
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8/10
A must see for sci fi fans!
miken-324 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This lesser known film starring Roy Thinnes (From TV's Invaders) is actually what I consider a lost gem. It was made at a time where the story was more important that the special effects (though the effect are fairly good for its time). A scientist theorizes that there is another world in Earth's Orbit directly behind the sun. Since the sun always blocks it from us we can never see it from Earth. Roy Thinnes is selected to go on a mission to get to this world. I don't want to tell the rest of the plot because it will give the rest of the movie away. Let's just say there are some real surprises.

The movie is British and has that good British flavor of acting that was in such TV series like The Avengers.
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Sylvia and Gerry Anderson's best work
jlafitte16 April 1999
Undoubtedly the best movie Sylvia and Gerry Anderson ever made. While falling short of Stanley Kubrick's contemporaneous "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun" has a strong, enigmatic plot and is plausible (apart from the novelty of its main premise) on both the human and technical levels.

I think that this movie succeeds most on the philosophical level, and it may be the only time that the Andersons have managed this in one of their movie-length productions (although there were certainly occasional glimpses of emotional and philosophical depth in their "UFO" and "Space:1999" serials).

I am glad that this movie was re-released on DVD as it will give me a chance to enjoy it all over again (for the first time in nearly 20 years).
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A very backward land
Kevin-27824 November 2000
I must admit that this film is a guilty pleasure. I first saw it when I was a kid and when I found out it was on again I couldn't miss it. The story is like an episode of the Twilight Zone and the effects, while looking alot like something from the "Thunderbirds" are quite good for '69 (especially the space shots). The funnest part I found on my latest viewing is watching the future technology. We have already gone to Mars but everything, except the cars, looks a lot like the 60's. I mean even Star Trek tried harder. Punch tape...really people. Enjoy.
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7/10
A Guilty Pleasure for Space-aholics
Rodone31 August 1999
I first saw this in the 70s on syndicated TV and admired its production values, which were high tech for the time. The remastered video is rich and colorful, far more intense then the pale 35 mm TV prints. This movie deserves more attention: it paved the way for UFO, Space: 1999 and even Star Wars with its detailed miniatures and cleverly conceived gadgets. Sure, the story of an alternative anti-matter planet Earth has been recycled a hundred times since Star Trek, but the beauty of this film is its self-conscious European flair for design: from the Rolls Royce space engines to the "Euro Sec" letterhead business paper, JFSS or Dopplegangers as it was called in Europe is enjoyable for the imaginary vision of Europe in space in the shadow of the Superpowers. Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's ambitious epic gets a little tedious when the American astronaut finally realizes that he is on the doppleganger Earth, and everything is literally downhill after the poetically graceful shuttle boarding sequence. A mediocre story is helped along by a grand and lyrical classical score by the late great Barry Gray, the John Williams of Britain.
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7/10
Different sci-fi movie
Walle-26 April 1999
This movie separates much from those original sci-fi space movies. On earth they´ve discovered a planet alot like our earth, just on the other side of the sun. They send out a crew to explore it. But something goes wrong and the spaceship crashes back on our earth, or does it? I´m very glad that I´ve seen it, because I thought it was gonna be a bit boring, but it wasn´t it was very scary but not in a frightening way. Just scary because of the situation.

7 / 10 I give it.
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8/10
A pleasure if you are a Gerry Anderson groupie--otherwise, it's still pretty intriguing.
MartinHafer22 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This film would probably be more interesting to the viewer if they are already fans of Gerry Anderson's series "UFO" or "Space: 1999". Plus, if you are a "UFO" fan, you'll delight to see two of this series' leading men, Ed Bishop (with actual dark hair) and George Sewell, as two of the main characters. But, fortunately, unlike "UFO" the costumes, wigs and set design are all a bit more restrained (no purple wigs in this film)! However, you can see some of the props (such as the futuristic cars) that were used in "UFO" and it does have a similar look.

The film begins at a time in the future--though exact when is uncertain. Using a cool bit of spying, as an agent (Herbert Lom) is able to steal secrets from the European Space Authority. What he's passed on to his comrades is that there might be a planet on the other side of the sun--one that is blocked by the sun so its existence was previously unknown. As a result, if a space flight is made there, they need to do it soon--before someone else beats them to it. However, the Europeans don't have the will for such an expensive program and look to the Americans for help. A NASA astronaut (Roy Thinnes) is chosen to command this bizarre trip to this planet and his co-astronaut is from the European program (Ian Hendry).

Because the flight is long, they devise a sort of hibernation for the crew--they'll sleep during most of the flight and awaken when they arrive at the new planet. However, when they awaken, they find themselves back on Earth! What about the new planet?! What gives?! I'd say more, but don't want to spoil it for you.

Considering that I have lamented that "UFO" was prematurely canceled, seeing this film was a treat for me. It's sophisticated enough that it is a far cry from Anderson's puppet films earlier that same decade and is pretty well done--like "UFO". It's funny, but had "2001" not debuted a year earlier, this film would have been a standout for its special effects--and many of the scenes still look very nice today. But to the sophisticated viewers of 2011, the film does look a tiny bit dated. For me, this was not an issue--I liked the Sylvia Anderson set and costume designs and don't mind the use of the usual Anderson models (used far less effectively in previous projects, such as "Thunderbirds"). I think they are kind of quaint and I recommend the film. Plus, unlike "2001", the film is entertaining and does NOT make your brain hurt. In other words, it's very approachable for the normal everyday person.

By the way, if you are a trivia nut, look for Vladek Sheybal as a psychiatrist. He was a semi-regular on "UFO" and also played a Bond villain in "From Russia With Love". Of course, he also played the god-awful 'Mr. Boogaloo' in the horrid movie "The Apple" (and that's a film so bad that bad film buffs will adore it).
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