Doppelgänger

Doppelgänger

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Doppelgänger AKA Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was Gerry Anderson's first, and only, try at feature filmmaking sans marionettes.  The man behind such classics as Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Joe 90, Anderson decided that, after eleven years of making puppet shows on television for children, it was about time to have a go at live-action movies for adults.  So, in 1969, in the wake of the über-cerebral 2001: a Space Odyssey, Anderson's Century 21 company  released a space adventure intended to cash in on the conundrum-posing metaphysics of Stanley Kubrick's epic.  Unfortunately, this turned out to be less a case of jumping on a bandwagon and more of falling off and getting run over by the wheels as audiences, somewhat unfairly, saw Doppelgänger as a rip off of 2001 and left the movie with disappointing box office returns.

On the plus side, Doppelgänger was nominated for an Academy Award for special effects in 1969 and in the decades since has become something of a cult classic.  It's also one of cinema's most interesting forays into Future Past with a portrayal of the intrigue and espionage plaguing a 21st century European space programme that pays such close, yet restrained attention to technological details, that in many ways it comes off as much more plausible than Kubrick's better known and more successful work.  Even though the second half of the story is about as daft as a barrel of Euro MPs, one comes away from Doppelgänger suspecting that if manned spaceflight had kept its momentum after the triumphs of Apollo, our present day spaceships would look rather similar to those launched by Eurosec.

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