A Film Rumination: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (variant title: Doppelgänger), Robert Parrish (1969)

5/10 (Average)

Robert Parrish’s Journey to the Far Side of the Sun is a British science fiction film of average quality.  The first two thirds are well done before the final act kicks into gear with all its hokeyness and painfully glitzy camera work.  The central “idea” is on the surface an intriguing one — another planet discovered in the solar system at the exact point of the Earth oposite of the sun.  But the film quickly devolves into the vaguest half-hearted attempt at introspection…

I’ve often read that this is a lost classic, “an understated masterpiece” (even “a masterpiece for the thinking man”), and a work positively influenced by the slow, deliberate, otherworldly qualities of 2001: A Space Odyssey.  I’d like to hear your opinions if they approximate those conclusions since I’m having difficult seeing any real merit in the film.

The film does have competent special effects, a good first half depicting the training for the space mission, some interesting sets of Future Earth,  and a generally competent (if occasionally irritating) main cast.  The gender dynamics are pretty standard  for 60s sci-fi (that is, token women in important positions doing token work solely concerned with looking pretty/running after the dashing men).

Brief Plot Summary

After the discovery of another planet along the same orbit of the Earth on the opposite side of the sun a joint European Space Agency and Nasa operation is sent to investigate.  The spaceship crashes on the other planet.  After a hallucinatory rescue, the surviving astronaut realizes that the planet is a perfect parallel duplicate of Earth.

The film, surprisingly, ends on a disturbing note but it isn’t enough to separate this particular film from the horde of 2001: A Space Odyssey (special effects, spaceship shots, etc) imitators.

Final Thoughts

This film leaves me at a loss.  I found the first half quite exciting and the last third truly awful.  The acting is on the whole fine and the sets/spaceships/special effects are pretty good for the day.  A desperate attempt to construct a film around a hard science fiction premise is valiant but in the end no more than pastiche of better 60s sci-fi films.

Again, there appears to be a movement to rehabilitate this film and I would love to hear a persuasive counter opinion!

8 Replies to “A Film Rumination: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (variant title: Doppelgänger), Robert Parrish (1969)”

  1. It looks rather intriguing and well-done (visually). It has some interesting retro-futurism going on, which was very common of 1960’s and 70’s sci-fi films. I’ve never seen it, but it might be worth a look.

  2. I thought it was intriguing and well-done visually until the last third — and then it couldn’t end fast enough. It’s ultimately ultra-simplistic and hokey which can be good thing but the film is generally not bad enough to be laugh inducing….

  3. Your review pretty much matches how I remember the film. I last saw this… oh god, probably in 1980. I must have seen it a dozen times in the 1970’s and each time wanted to like it, loved the beginning and remember having been bored by the last bit… so much so that I couldn’t tell you what the actual conclusion was.

  4. Yeah, the main astronaut crash lands into the facility accidentally so no body knows what actually happens. The controller of the European space agency is put in a asylum and runs his wheelchair into a mirror since no one believes him…

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