Two months is a long time to be quarantined in one place. Just ask, well, pretty much anyone in the era of COVID-19. But imagine if you were quarantined for two years instead of two months, all in the name of science, and it was by choice!
In 1991, eight researchers did exactly that in Oracle, Arizona as part of a first-of-its-kind mission called BIOSPHERE 2. No, there was no failed BIOSPHERE 1 mission -- BIOSPHERE 1 is planet Earth. The mission’s goal was to create a living ecosystem inside a massive glass and steel facility to show that human life could be sustained in outer space. The idea was that whenever humanity finally did gain the ability to travel deeper into space and colonize another planet, a biosphere would need to be built first so that life could be sustained. But what started as a science experiment quickly evolved into a cultural phenomenon, and while some watched with bated breath to see whether the researchers could really create a living ecosystem in a controlled environment, others saw the project and those who were involved as a cult of sorts. Director Matt Wolf explores BIOSPHERE 2 the researchers (“biospherians”) who carried the mission out, what ultimately happened and the good and bad ways in which it became a cultural phenomenon.
Today on FilmWeek, “The Frame” host John Horn talks with Wolf about the making of the film and what can be learned from the biospherians about our current situation staying at home because of COVID-19.