Also known as Doppelganger, this British production looked like a hokey piece of nonsense, although I admit I was judging this “book” by its cover – or maybe that should read promo. I thought I’d have a chance to pan a sixties film about guys landing on another planet, but instead I was amazed. This is the same company who created Space 1999. As much of a fan of that TV series as I was, this film beat it hands down.
While the project has a few moments of 1960s fashion – mostly on the women “? it is an amazingly well done production. The fashions on the cast members are not excessively “spacey”. Remember that point if you decide to produce a film set in the future, please, just minor clothing changes. In Journey, men wear casual style suits without ties (I think that’s a great idea for men nowadays).
The sets and props are well done – especially since this production is over 30 years old and probably didn’t have a monster budget. One of my favorite gizmos was an arriving plane which looked like a cross between the Concorde and a Harrier Jump Jet (which is just cool anyway). This craft lands and a neat little loading machine drives up behind it and off-loads the entire “cabin” area as the nose of the plane lifts out of the way. Too cool!
I like the name of the space agency, EuroSec, because it sounds so plausible since we now have Euros as currency in Europe. So many films have goofball spacey names.
Most famous of all the actors is Herbert Lom (playing Dr. Hassler) who you’ll no doubt remember from all the Pink Panther movies as Inspector Dreyfus, the man that Clouseau kept driving insane. This time he has a “cameo” appearance and gets to be very serious in his role. He is a traitor. He is also equipped with a pretty nifty “spy equipment” piece. I won’t spoil the neat surprise.
Derek Meddings was in charge of visual effects, and what a great job he did. I also give credit to the music and sound effects teams. The project hummed along nicely because of the understated use of sound, effects and gizmos.
Fans of 1970s films and TV will recognize the American, Colonel Glenn Ross (played by Roy Thinnes), who must go to the planet behind the Sun with British counterpart John Kane (Ian Hendry) to investigate it. A team is therefore hastily put together and trained. They have lovely implants put into their arms so that they can take a swell three-week medicated snooze. It actually looked pretty good as these things go.
Ross survives the crash landing on “the planet” but his British partner dies. It takes Ross a while to realize that although he is around everyone he usually knows, things aren’t quite right. It takes him time to see that the writing on this planet is backwards to ours. It’s English all right but it is read the other way. His internal organs are backward to theirs and his home’s furniture is also in reverse. He heads over to the head of the program and explains his theory. Oddly enough some really great writing takes place. Instead of the usual, “He’s mad!” lines being recited, we find out that the head of the program is just as convinced as he is. It’s a nice touch.
So of course the only thing to do is go back to your own planet right? Uh, yes, except when he decides to do that there are a few problems. He gets inside his spacecraft orbiting the planet but finds the ship is starting up without his ok so he aborts that plan. It ends in a crash. The film creators are obviously not sold on “Happily Ever After.”
The only one left is a man who’s been in a sanitarium for ages, Mr. Webb (played by Patrick Wymark). Seeing a giant mirror at the end of a hall one day he takes off in his wheelchair and smashes into it. Roll credits.
Ok that wasn’t the ending I would have picked but it was certainly more creative than some formulas out of Hollywood. The problem I have is that it’s very common as a British film ending. Though I like British films it’s getting has-been now. My only qualm was the ending.
Laura Seymour first published herself, at age 8. She has since gone on to publish a cookbook for the medical condition Candida. She is working toward her B.A. (Psyc).