Friday, 28 July 2017

The Farthest: NZIFF Review

The Farthest: NZIFF Review

The Farthest: NZIFF Review
Rekindling both a love of space travel from younger years and again firing up a feeling of cosmic insignificance, Emer Reynolds largely entertaining but slightly overlong doco about the Voyager missions reminds you why as a species we look to beyond the stars.

Lively and engaging talking heads from the original project which launched in 1977 reflect back in the building of the technology and the ongoing interest in the space exploration.

At the centre of the project was the Golden Record , a 90 minute piece of metal which held on it various greetings from around the globe, and a raft of music including Chuck Berry but excluding The Beatles. ( Due to their refusal to licence for outer space, a touch that shows the limits of our petty horizons.)

But rather than concentrating too much on this golden dispatch that provoked panic that alien life could see it as a calling card and draw their plans against us, Reynolds concentrates on the people and their reactions to the discoveries in a pre-Internet, pre-live streaming world.

And it's thrilling seeing these images some 40 years on and realising what they meant at the time. Enthusiasm fills the screen here and while there are perhaps too many CGI shots of a craft hurtling alone in the cosmos, Reynolds' evocative touches bring what could be dull vividly to life, choosing energetic sound bites and engaging speakers.

As the Voyager craft headed further into space, the revelations and discoveries from the satellite moons come flooding in. And by using numerous shots of these and forming them like album covers, Reynolds reconnects it all to the record that's on board and the rings which orbit the planets.

But the most powerful moment comes when the whole thing is given context, seeing as how most of the film feels like it exists in a timeless bubble. As shots from space (Uranus??) trickle in they're split-screened with the destruction of the Challenger shuttle.

It's here that the fragility of mankind's significance is exposed and simultaneously the impressive work that NASA did in a lower tech world stand out.

Whilst the doco is incredibly polished (maybe a little too so at times), Reynolds' ease of accessibility and assembling of the pieces stand out. This is a documentary that has not only universal preoccupations but yet also has universal appeal.

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