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.
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!