Best Documentary

The Farthest – Film Review

The Farthest – Film Review by Frank L.

Directed by Emer Reynolds
Writer: Emer Reynolds
Stars: Frank Drake, Carolyn Porco, John Casani

Voyager 2 was launched into space on 20th August 1977 and Voyager 1 was launched shortly afterwards on 5th September 1977. It will be necessary to see the film to discover the reasoning behind the unlikely numbering.

Their common purpose was to send information back to Earth about Jupiter and Saturn and in the case of Voyager 1 to explore Uranus and Neptune. The speed at which they are travelling and the distances covered are immense as are the information and images which have been relayed back to Earth. However what makes this still continuing story so absorbing is the use by Reynolds of contemporary footage when various “milestones” along the way were reached. These historic clips are interspersed with recent interviews with the self-same individuals created for the documentary. Obviously time has altered their appearance but not their passion for the Voyager Project. Their pride and love for it is manifest. The two craft have now departed the known solar system, entered and left the Heliosheath and are now travelling at a mind-boggling speed in interstellar space. They are the first man-made objects to enter into this unknown. It is a story which challenges the art of story-telling given its incomprehensible scale.

In order to keep it human in its proportions, Reynolds describes the contents of two “golden discs”. They are, in reality, each twelve inch gold plated copper disks which contain information (including 55 different languages) about the Earth and its inhabitants. These it is hoped, if there is other life (i.e an alien somewhere out there), will indicate to the alien that Earth exists or maybe that it once existed! The eclectic nature of the contents of these two disks makes a gripping tale in itself given that the choices were made forty years ago- a substantial period of time for a living human brain to encompass.

Another aspect of this unique story is that each craft has within it computing power which is equivalent to what would be contained in a modern hearing aid. In other words minuscule in comparison with that which operates within a modern mobile phone. It is worth keeping this information firmly in the forefront of the brain as the breath-taking images of the outer reaches of the solar system are shown.

Emer Reynolds, whose credits as an editor include “I Went Down” 1997, “The Eclipse” 2009, and “The Good Doctor” 2011 and whose directorial debut was “Here was Cuba” directs with a sure touch. In an interview in relation to the advice she would give an aspiring editor she stated:

“… to be a great editor, go to lots of films; read lots of books; listen to lots of music; walk on lots of cliffs; open your mind and heart to experience and aesthetic bliss and this will hopefully inform and feed your inner creative life … Be open!’

That same advice of “Be Open” has driven her directorial instincts in creating this reverential documentary about an adventure by man into the vast unknown and thereby permits the viewer to have some understanding of the Voyager experience and even of its aesthetic bliss.




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