The idea of outer space is already an interesting and beloved topic in film. When a filmmaker takes the rawness and uncertainty of space and combines it with the power and emotions of a documentary, you get Emer Reynolds’s The Farthest.
Of all the films I had the pleasure of seeing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, The Farthest was the most captivating. There were just so many aspects that blew me away both as an audience member and as someone who is genuinely interested in the wonders of space travel. The film captured the beauty and emotional roller coaster nature of of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, but documentary format.
The visuals offered the greatest surprise. Going into a documentary, the last thing the average audience member thinks of is the CGI and gorgeous effects they are about to see. From the very first scene the massive range of visuals used to show the solar system and the outer reaches of space amazed me. I found myself feeling so small and insignificant when looking at the very real looking images of Jupiter and Saturn. Getting to see the actual images from the Voyager craft approaching each planet for the first time was an experience unlike any I had ever seen. I wasn’t around when this mission was happening sadly, but I can honestly tell you that I felt like I was inside mission control watching the story unfold.
Going into this documentary with minimal knowledge of the Voyager mission I was slightly nervous I wouldn’t be able to understand the timeline. I had nothing to fear as it turned out due to Emer Reynolds’s directing talents. Every last detail was displayed with personal accounts of events, pictures and videos from the actual scientists and engineers involved, and landmark events that occurred around and during the Voyager mission. When making a documentary with a lot of important information that is imperative for the audience to understand a good director has the ability to make or break their film. In this case, Emer balanced everything like a true professional.
Even though documentaries are about real events and real people, it is still important to have interesting subjects there to lead and tell the story. Hearing the actual scientists and engineers who were working hard on the Voyager’s creation was something that made this documentary uniquely special. The happiness when the pictures were coming in from Voyager of the planets, the fear when there was a problem with the craft that threatened to end the mission, and the depression that followed the Challenger shuttle’s explosion were all strongly displayed. Seeing grown adults cry tears of joy when talking about Voyager as if it were their child leaving the nest to start the rest of its life was both humbling and beautiful to watch.
Even if you aren’t a big documentary person, The Farthest is a must see. With amazing visuals, a time capsule of clips and images from the actual Voyager mission, and human moments while trying to reach for the stars, this film is an experience that will make you think of what lies far beyond our skies.
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