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USA TODAY

In 1991, a group of eight people sealed themselves inside a giant dome in Oracle, Arizona, where they attempted to live in complete isolation for two years. 

It’s the stranger-than-fiction premise of the riveting new documentary “Spaceship Earth” (now streaming on Hulu, playing in drive-in theaters and available to rent on platforms). Distributed by Neon (“Parasite,”“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”), the film traces the origins and outcome of the largely forgotten Biosphere 2 experiment.

The mission was to see if people could create a completely self-sustaining ecosystem indoors without access to outside water, food or oxygen, a feat that its backers hoped  could one day be replicated for long-term survival on the moon or Mars. 

The controversial project was roundly criticized by the media and scientific community as a cult: It was conceived by an experimental theater troupe from San Francisco and led by a charismatic artist and inventor named John Allen. And although eight people managed to live inside Biosphere 2 for the full two-year plan, its scientific relevance has been contested. (At one point, news leaked that oxygen was pumped into the structure, and one “biospherian” brought back a duffel bag of supplies after leaving the dome for emergency surgery.) 

More: ‘Spaceship Earth’ explores the mystery of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 and the people behind it

More: What to stream this weekend: Michelle Obama’s Netflix doc ‘Becoming,’ musical ‘Valley Girl’ remake

Still, we couldn’t help but sympathize with these intrepid individuals, whose utopian vision of a self-contained world has uncanny parallels to the reality many people are facing during the coronavirus pandemic as we self-isolate inside.

A few of the ways that “Spaceship Earth” hit a little too close to home:.

1. They found creative ways to use bananas

If you’ve been on social media at all in the past couple months, you’ve probably scrolled through dozens of pictures of friends’ homemade banana bread, which has enjoyed a resurgence as the easy go-to recipe of quarantine. Turns out, bananas were similarly popular in Biosphere 2: Midway through the film, one biospherian explains how “nothing improved morale like a good meal.” On birthdays inside the dome, they’d celebrate by making banana cakes – there was no sugar or butter – and they even drank fermented banana wine. 

2. They got tired of eating the same things every day

Do you ever find yourself just staring in your cupboard, wondering what you can possibly make with all the beans, peanut butter and Cup Noodles you stocked up on before quarantine? While we have the option to make occasional trips to the grocery store, the biospherians were forced to eat only what they could produce within their three-acre terrarium. Many plants died over time, leaving them with limited food options.

“We had to make some pretty difficult decisions because some crops were way more productive than others, even if we were sick of eating that,” crew member Sally Silverstone says. “Beet root soup, beet root salad with a side of beet root!” 

3. They could only talk to loved ones through windows, phones 

With the intense media attention and curiosity around the experiment, many onlookers  traveled to the steel-and-glass enclosure just to peek inside – eventually leading Biosphere 2 to open a visitors center. In one moving scene, the project’s CEO Margaret Augustine, who lived outside the dome, discusses her deep fondness for the biospherians, smiling and talking to one participant over the phone as he touches the glass. The moment resonates with any of us who have been forced to visit friends and family from a safe social distance during the pandemic. 

4. Exercise (and dancing) was vital to blow off steam 

One of the many mind-blowing things about Biosphere 2 is that multiple biomes – a desert, a rainforest and an ocean with a coral reef – co-existed under one roof. This meant plenty of places to practice fitness, whether going for a swim or running around the perimeter of the building. And when they needed to boost their spirits, the resident would frequently throw dance parties with elaborate handmade costumes. (Cue us dancing in our bedroom with our dog.) 

5. Things got very testy, very quickly

Living in close quarters with anyone for an extended period of time is bound to create tension. For anyone who’s quarantining with roommates, one of the most relatable aspects of “Spaceship Earth” is the annoyance biospherians felt with each other. 

“I started to resent John Allen,” participant Linda Leigh says, explaining how he dictated who they could talk to inside the dome and how they should conserve oxygen, even when they were suffocating and starving. Other crew members detail “belligerent” attitudes and arguments as people started to feel they were losing control.  One participant recalled an amusing blowout argument with Allen that centered on Dante’s “Inferno.” 

But at the end of the day, “we’re all a high-functioning family that works through issues and keeps going,” Kathelin Gray, a founder and researcher on Biosphere 2, explains. “If you can sustain a group like this, it can get you through a lot of challenges.”

It’s an invaluable reminder for us all as we fight over the remote or that last roll of toilet paper this weekend. 

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