Thursday, 18 March 2021

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969)


Was there ever a producer of children's television more famous among his intended audience than Gerry Anderson? Certainly there wasn't when his shows originally aired. Driven by a desire to make big budget action spectaculars when he had actually been given the job of making TV for the younger generation, Gerry didn't let that get in his way, instead producing a unique, in fact one could argue auteurist, body of work that is still appreciated and remembered (along with the man himself) to this day.

Having found success with shows like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and Joe 90, Anderson made a rare foray into the world of live action features in 1969 with JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN, about to get a DVD and Blu-ray release courtesy of Fabulous Films. Anderson had already been involved with the feature films THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO (1966) AND THUNDERBIRD SIX (1968) but this was the first not to feature his trademark Supermarionation.

We're still firmly in Gerry's world, though, from the font on the opening credits to the intricate model work that looks as if it's just dying to be knocked over by Godzilla or the Giant Turnip Monster From Beyond the Moon. The plot of JOURNEY is more sober, however. A new planet is discovered on the far side of the sun and astronaut Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) and astrophysicist John Kane (Ian Hendry) are sent to explore, but they don't find what they're expecting.

JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN boasts excellent special effect for its era and an interesting cast that also includes Patrick Wymark,  Herbert Lom - whose eyeball-removal was a highlight of many a post-screening school playground conversation back in the day - and Lynn Loring, perhaps best known to readers here for the 1973 William Shatner Vs Menhirs TV movie HORROR AT 37 000 FEET. 

JOURNEY spends a lot of its running time getting our astronauts to the planet, but then this was the era of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and the model work and scenes in space were probably designed to take their time to appeal to audiences wanting more nuts and bolts of spaceships coupling and uncoupling. In fact this is dwelt on so much that the concept of the mirror world our heroes discover isn't given half as much time to be developed before it's all over, with quite the downbeat ending in keeping with other SF movies of its era (this was the year of BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES after all).

Fabulous Films' Blu-ray comes with a trailer and lovely cover art from Graham Humphreys but that's all. 

Gerry Anderson's JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN is out on Blu-ray and DVD from Fabulous Films on Monday 22nd March 2021

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