JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN
A cutting nevertheless true comment often made about the Andersons live-action productions is that they are essentially puppet shows made with real people. All Anderson puppet characters seem to exist in a perpetual state of boyhood, youthful heroes off to save the world and to whom girls appear only peripherally or as an awkward embarrassment that leaves them tongue-tied. The live-action characters rarely even have these features. In these techno-heavy productions, humans seem like accessories to the marvellous vehicles and space age machinery in operation. In Doppelganger, the astronauts are veritable blanks as characters and definitely play a very distant second-fiddle to the displays of technology and model effects. Certainly, the models and effects work here are up to the expectedly high Anderson standards there is a glorious rocket launch sequence and a wondrous plane with a detachable pod (which would surely be of doubtful functional value). It is worth waiting to the climax to see everything go up in a massive explosion in characteristic Anderson style.
Unfortunately, it is the story that soon hobbles Doppelganger. The premise of a planet on a counter-Earth orbit that is an exact mirror opposite of the Earth has to count among one of science-fictions more hare-brained. The odds against two worlds evolving identically right down to the minutest detail is so astronomically absurd as to be impossible. Nobody seems to have put much thought into the idea How can the astronauts manage to conduct a survey orbit of the planet while failing to pick up sign of life or the fact that the world would surely have exactly the same continental configuration as Earth? Why is there just a counter-Earth, why not all the other planets too? To follow the films own lunatic logic, if the counter-Earth does everything as a mirror opposite, then why do people not speak backwards too?
It might have served as a cute half-hour episode of The Twilight Zone (1959-63) but at feature length the idea flounders. The presentation of the idea feels slim three-quarters of the film is spent getting to the destination. Moreover, it is not a terribly interesting three-quarters, being padded out with spy dramas and dream sequences that have clearly been modelled on the light show in the previous years 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). When the film gets to its destination, it is at a loss to know what to do once the main surprise has been let it out of the bag and of course the only way to wind it up is in the Anderson tradition by blowing everything up.
Doppelganger/Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was only a moderate success, but did surprisingly inspire a spate of Counter-Earth themes over the next few years including the interesting Quest for Love (1971) and the tv movie The Stranger (1973), as well as the more recent Another Earth (2011).