The story of the Voyager probe mission is chronicled in Emer Reynolds’ eye opening documentary, The Farthest.
It should be no surprise to readers of this site that I’m a massive nerd for space exploration. I love Star Trek and also love the real world stories of the achievements humanity has made in reaching out to learn more about the stars.
This documentary is clearly designed to be an inspiration. Throughout there’s an undercurrent of optimism as the variety of talking heads all approach their answers with boundless enthusiasm even when talking about the problems that arise when attempting things that have never been done before.
The entire time period from the genesis of the Voyager mission to the point where Voyager 1 left our solar system in 2012 is covered in great detail. As viewers we are taken a on a journey that details why the mission was greenlit in the first place, the emotions felt by those involved when things were discovered and the impact the whole thing had on the scientific community.
For me the most fascinating information was what was learned about Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. I really appreciated the level of detail delivered to the viewer about what was discovered during these historic flybys complete with actual images recorded from Voyager 1. It all added to the optimistic tone the documentary was trying to convey and the thrill of discovery was certainly infectious thanks to the clear enthusiasm from all those interviewed.
The documentary successfully delivers how significant an achievement for the human race this mission was. It is repeatedly reinforced that nothing like it has been done before or since and it’s definitely clear that Voyager is a historically significant mission for so many reasons. The amount we learned about our own solar system from this one mission over a number of years is staggering and the documentary ensures that the impact is allowed to sink in. It also does a great job of putting into perspective just how small Earth is when weighed up against the rest of the universe. This will definitely get people thinking.
On a visual level this is presented really well. Actual footage is spliced with CGI visualisations of the Voyager probe flying through space and doing flybys of various planets to illustrate what that might look like. There are some distracting artistic visuals that come across as random when presented but on the whole there’s enough visual variety to keep the viewer interested as the information is being presented.
One issue I had is that there is a lot of information supplied and it sometimes feels like too much. A lot of time is devoted to the record attached to the probes containing 90 minutes of music and 30 minutes of greetings from different cultures as well as a collection of photographs in case Aliens ever find it and become curious about our planet. While this is important and it is interesting to learn the thought process behind creating a time capsule of human existence it felt like too much time was spent on this and that some of the information was repeated.
Information overload is a general issue the documentary had. I wonder if this would have benefited from being split into two as the overall experience does feel long and overwhelming. Thankfully the complex science is explained in terms the average viewer will understand but there is still a lot to take in as the timeframe covered is a long one. By the end it does start to feel somewhat overdone despite how interesting the subject matter is.
A fascinating exploration of the Voyager mission and everything that came with it. The documentary chronicles a long period of time and constantly highlights how significant this mission was. It’s great to see the talking heads talk so optimistically and enthusiastically about their experiences and it definitely helps the whole thing feel inspiring to watch. Visually it looks great with real photographs and footage spliced with CGI visualisations of Voyager’s journey. There are some distracting artistic visuals but on the whole the documentary remains appealing to look at. One issue is that there is a little too much information. A lot of time is spent on the time capsulle record attached to the probes which starts to feel repetitive after a while and in general it does feel like there is a lot to take in despite how interesting the subject matter is.
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