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There's a sense of awe to the special effects work of animation specialists Gerry and Sylvia Anderson (Thunderbirds Are Go)--the slow, lovingly detailed introduction of a massive spaceship creeping out of dock and struggling against its bulk while trapped on the ground, and the almost balletic spectacle of the ship elegantly floating against an impressive star field or dramatically flying against the rugged landscape. These moments are the highlights of this sober science fiction thriller about the discovery of a planet on the far side of the sun in Earth's orbit. A mission is hastily put together, with British astrophysicist Ian Hendry teamed with hotshot American astronaut Roy Thinnes for the three-week trip, but when they suddenly crash-land the strange creatures that surround them are revealed to be human. Against all rational explanations they're back on Earth, but Thinnes suddenly discovers that everything is a mirror image of his existence: Through the Looking Glass by way of The Twilight Zone. Though it begins as a paranoid spy thriller set in the near future (the opening details an ingenious espionage caper featuring a very special eyepiece), it quickly turns into a serious and oddly unsettling space-race drama with a heady twist.

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MC26038 Journey to the Far Side of the Sun DVD (1969/Roy Thinnes) $19.98