Gerry and Sylvia Anderson wrote and produced this tale of a heretofore-hidden parallel world on the far side of the sun – a planet which is an exact reverse duplicate of the Earth.
It is the year 2069. The European space agency EUROSEC (European Space Exploration Council) is run by the hard-driving Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark), who is determined to launch a space mission to examine a new planet in the solar system that can’t be observed from Earth but was discovered by the recently launched Sun Probe.
The flight to the new planet will cost one billion dollars so America and NASA are brought in to share the cost of the mission, forcing Webb to compromise and agree that American astronaut Colonel Glen Ross (Roy Thinnes) – who had been the first man on Mars – be placed in command of the flight.
Ross is facing problems at home and has not been able to conceive a child with his sexy but harsh wife, Sharon (Lynn Loring ) – the daughter of an ambitious American politician – who believes his sterility is due to his work in space.
Joining Colonel Ross on the mission is John Kane (Ian Hendry), a British astrophysicist who has never been to space before. The two men train for the arduous six-week mission and the film follows every detail of the process.
When Ross and Kane eventually reach the distant planet onboard the Phoenix, their lander crashes on the surface and Kane suffers life-threatening injuries. But Ross awakes to find himself (he believes) on Earth – which is, in fact, a duplicate of Earth where everything (including the writing) is reversed.
The film ends with a grim final act and an uncompromising, bleak finale.
After several interrogations by the alternate EUROSEC, Ross is able to convince the alternate version of Jason Webb of the truth – that he completed the mission successfully and now stands on an alien world. Just as another Ross – originating from this world — is now talking to a doppelganger of Webb on Earth.
Webb and Ross devise a plan to get him home, but a miscalculation involving the polarity of electricity scuttles the mission, killing Ross and nearly destroying EUROSEC in the process.
As with all Anderson productions, the film has an abundance of high-tech gadgetry, state-of-the-art costumes, sets, props and miniatures and marvellous special effects – courtesy of special effects wizard Derek Meddings. Many of the sets, costumes and vehicles – and even some of the cast members – were reused in Gerry Anderson’s TV series UFO (1970).
Colonel Glenn Ross
Loni von Friedl
Franco De Rosa