In theory, “Spaceship Earth” – a new documentary from Neon that begins streaming on Hulu and other VOD platforms this weekend – is a perfectly appropriate watch for our ongoing period of social distancing and unexpected newfound self-sufficiency. The idea of watching eight people physically confined to the inner spaces (albeit willingly, and not for reasons stemming in a global pandemic) of Biosphere 2 in the Arizona desert – while growing their own crops and finding new dimensions to their relationships with limited opportunity to venture very far away from each other – might draw alluring parallels to how we’re living today. We might even look to director, and seasoned documentarian, Matt Wolf’s latest film for insights, perspective or answers time capsule’d from 1991, when this real-life sci-fi venture begins. After all, while that group of eight may have been inside for a mind-boggling two years, at least they know for certain how much time is left on the clock.
It’s also tempting to think that hypothesis of how “Spaceship Earth” will unfold might have been the movie Wolf actually made, had it been pieced together with the ongoing coronavirus crisis in mind (as it continues to be on all of ours) and not well before we ever heard of the disease or anticipated its fallout. In reality, there’s few moments in the scattershot, fascinatingly unfocused “Spaceship Earth” that directly mirrors what we’re going through. The movie covers much more than the events of those two years, and in its unsteady hopscotching from person to person, moment to moment, idea to idea, “Spaceship Earth” often transcends its shabby construction about a brave coalition of eco-pioneers to become a meta inquiry into what it says about us that we may expect certain things to come out of staying locked inside one place for so long—whether out of current experience or basic assumptions about human nature. Continue reading →