Stir­ring salute to hu­man in­ge­nu­ity

Los Angeles Times - - AT THE MOVIES - — Noel Mur­ray

Frankly, a doc­u­men­tary like Emer Reynolds’ “The Far­thest” is ex­actly what the world needs right now. A look back at NASA’s two Voy­ager probes — launched in 1977 yet still fly­ing through deep space — the film is a stir­ring salute to hu­man in­ge­nu­ity.

Reynolds takes a thor­ough and di­rect ap­proach to the Voy­ager story, weav­ing to­gether in­sight­ful and un­ex­pect­edly po­etic in­ter­views with sev­eral of the peo­ple who worked on the project, il­lus­trated with a mix of archival footage and art­fully shot re-cre­ations.

At just over two hours, “The Far­thest” could’ve used more con­text, get­ting more into the his­tory and fu­ture of space ex­plo­ration, and there’s a sur­pris­ing lack of ex­pla­na­tion of the as­tro­physics. But it seems un­gen­er­ous to com­plain about what’s miss­ing when “The Far­thest” con­tains such a wealth of fas­ci­nat­ing de­tail about Voy­ager 1 and Voy­ager 2 — from the amaz­ing pic­tures the probes have sent back over the years to the plan­ning and work that went into the “golden records” of hu­man civ­i­liza­tion that were stowed on the crafts.

Mostly, Reynolds de­serves credit for em­brac­ing the awe that the Voy­ager sci­en­tists still feel to­ward what they ac­com­plished. Us­ing mid-’70s tech­nol­ogy, they built ma­chines that ex­plored the Milky Way and be­yond. It’s as­ton­ish­ing, what we can do.

“The Far­thest.” Not rated. Run­ning time: 2 hours, 1 minute. Play­ing: Laemmle Play­house, Pasadena.

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