Reviews for Spaceship Earth ( ) 720p

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

A documentary showing what real human compassion is is about.

Biosphere 2 was never a concept on how to make life in outer space profitable, it was to show how to achieve sustainability and what challenges might exist for colonies off planet Earth. It saddens me to see the negative reviews from people who further prove the movie's plot that greed and politics are killing the scientific community. I remember growing up and watching the experiment go live on national TV. I have visited Biosphere 2 on multiple occasions and it is truly a technological, architectural, and scientific marvel. To understand how people with no agenda, other than creating a sustainable habitat, and no formal credentials in the scientific community created something that exists 30 years later and is instrumental to the scientific community, you must learn their back story and live through their eyes. This movie proves you don't need to have years of experience to contribute to the scientific community. Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence. By definition, these free thinkers, no matter how cult-like or hippie you believe they are, were the visionaries of science. Biosphere 2 is a true contribution to science and the study of our earth and is just as important as research conducted on the ISS.

Manson cult without the murders

Laughable hippie nonsense by privileged white kids, why did they all have silly nick names? all part of the cult. Did not get all the way through this embarrassing self indulgent mess, rather like their isolation. Pointless waste of time.

Like a forgotten dream

I remember hearing about this as a teenager, and about how it failed in some nonspecific manner. How wrong. How nice to unmake a memory.

This is a remarkable film about a remarkable human story. It is well made and engaging, whatever your feelings are for the characters and their doings.

This was not a technical experiment, just as our life on Biosphere 1 is not. It was, and is, a human one. And if you make it to the end of the film you will understand why the experiment was a resounding success. May ours be as well.

A truly missed opportunity

A truly missed opportunity, dealing with an interesting topic of a band of idealists, visionaries, hippies, in what is basically a cult-like setting, the show never develops into a coherent narrative that reveals much of interest. It kind of weaves, bends and meanders all over the place and, in the end, the viewer is left wondering about their individual motivation, why exactly they have failed, the dynamics of their relationships, the crux of the outcome or anything really besides the most superficial. A truly missed opportunity.

Hippies with money

This was nothing but another hippie commune that failed.

It was exposed back then as being a bogus scam, that they weren't sealed offfrom the world, at all!

Water and air were piped in regularly, and they had a huge food stockpile inside that they depleted.

I watched ~twenty minutes, then gave it up as just another eco extremist propaganda film.

White people doing white people things

On the premise of science research, a theater group funded by a Texan billionaire started living in a 200 million dollar air sealed glass house.

Unfortunately, the film takes them seriously enough to give them credit and does not question the sheer ignorance and arrogance of the megalomaniacal enterprise. History fortunately corrected the movie by making this whole Biosphere project a minuscule footnote on a rotten page of history.

Liberals in space

A billionaire putting up the money to build a biosphere for 8 dancing liberals to live in for two years. One of them out for a doctors appointment after a while then in again. Then the co2 rising because of their large compost. So they had to pump in oxygen from the outside world. Then we have the usual talk about climate doom, and then a bit about how bad capitalism is. There you pretty much have this documentary. No science to talk about, and no facts about the technical systems. If this group of people would have been in a biosphere in space, like they were saying they were doing research for, no one would have made it out alive.

Take a group of people, friends, a bit of imagination...

Take a group of people, friends, a bit of imagination and an open mind, a desire to make a difference and a vision for our future - take another group of people interested in money, greed, power - and...

A fascinating documentary that shows what a small group of well intentioned pioneers can achieve in the cause of humanity and ecology - with passion and belief and teamwork and adventure - it's well worth a visit to Biosphere 2, if for no other reason than that.

Interesting, but I would have like more about the project itself.

I remember visiting the Biosphere 2 when it was being built, and getting very excited about it. I also remember being very disappointed when it failed.

This is an interesting take on the project, starting long before it started, focusing on the group that made it happen - something between a commune and a cult. While that was all very interesting, they spent way too much time on it, and not enough on the details of the project itself, specifically why it failed.

My understanding is that they let hope blind them and the project never really had a chance to succeed. There simply wasn't enough plant mass to produce enough oxygen for that many people and animals. They never really discuss this in this documentary.

Pros and Cons of White Privilege: "Doing this for you."

Late 60s/early 70s U.S. mainstream "countercultural" trends was steadfast with mostly White middle-class people. In this mulch, cults were formed (especially areas like California) and probably extreme examples are the Manson Family and the Source Family. Most typically, majority of these members were of caucasian middle class backgrounds.

The era's drug culture and emerging cults founded camping establishments in rural land, most typically like a ranch. These elements was consistent with cult activities, but it was an awakening for many educated and socio-consciousness Americans letting go of ideological constructs of the nuclear family, etc..

While other communities of color and economic crisis, formed groups to advocate and protest the social injustices of that era from the Black Panthers to Young Lords. It's unfortunate that the mainstream era only focused on those groups to demonize their recognition of their advocacy and struggles.

But it was the rising of a new thinking generation of Boomers, looking past old constructions, here you had a gathering of young middle class thinking, merging creativity with eco-sciences (with their Theatre of All Possibilities). This documentary is in perfect timing of a global pandemic, scientific crimes and climate change controversies.

This documentary by Matt Wolf follows the origins of a communing leading to the 1991 Biosphere 2 project. It beginning of thinkers meeting like John Dolphin (ecologist, John Allen), Firefly, etc. In the bay area, the documentary shows the establishment of Synegeria Ranch. Interesting comparison between cult lifestyle and corporate "hardwired" (as described by one of thebinterviewees) ethics.

The intersplicing of archived footages, media coverage and styles and photos become the viewer's tour guide, finding a way of entertainment. But importantly it start to infield this grouping undertaking the social responsibility of taking of mother earth. It It's a slow build-up but if you had an ecointerest surrounding the earth, this film is not to be miss.

The half is about origins of grouping, their ideas, philosophy and psychedelic creativity. They claimed there was no drugs, but the footage looks like young people trippin'. It was that era, the drug culture was pretty prevalent with middle-class counterculturalists. Nonetheless, the documentary automatically shows that they connected the sciences with creativity.

Second part deals with the living process and motives of the Biosphere 2 quarantine. Throughout the film it continues to show aspects of the cult activity (connecting Synergia Ranch to the life of a Biospherian) even when the obstacles came into their 2 years of being, in the sphere.

This documentary (although it's about the pioneering Biospherians) revisits the U.S. countercultural era for a new generation (Millennials and Gen Zers) to better view the global warming situation and to dream New ways of living on Biosphere 1 (Earth). In a 1991 TV media coverage one of the.prefers before entering the 2 year quarantine in Biosphere 2 looked at the camera and implied that they (Biospherians) "doing this for you. "

Very slow. Could have been much better

When I have to fast forward through spots out of sheer boredom, then I know I haven't seen a good movie. It was just a minute here and there, especially during the first half hour, which as others have noted, is extremely slow and uneventful. I would think that for 99% of the movies we see, the director should realize you're not supposed to turn off or bore the viewer, especially because the director isn't famous, the people aren't very famous, and the event itself is not very famous. I happened to be in Tucson, AZ in November of 1993 for my brother's wedding, and visited Biosphere 2 after the wedding with my sister. We both were fascinated with the whole concept, and indeed, when this documentary focuses on Biosphere 2, it's pretty good. Unfortunately (and incredibly), Biosphere 2 isn't always the primary focus. There's an interesting documentary to be made about Biosphere 2. Sadly, this isn't it.


Welcome to the fantastic future of 1991 as the human petri dish project BIOSPHERE 2 is underway! What looks like a kooky SciFi piece of last century fiction, turns out to be a bizarre true life experiment, sequestering idealistic science nerds in their self-sustaining eco bubble.

Rife with cult overtones and extraordinary characters, "Spaceship Earth" documents a group of giddy dreamers as they pave the way for future planet colonizations by creating their own pressure cooker mini earth. What could go wrong?

Well, much does indeed go wrong, but unfortunately, nothing of the sensational variety. There is no physical rebellion. There are no monsters spawned. There are no lives lost. Yet it is damn fascinating: the spectre of a tight army of red uniformed humans scurrying about their self made ant hill aquarium, whilst the world literally looked on.

There is a "Truman Show" aspect at play here, as organizer, impresario, Grand Poobah and owner of a wacky combover, John P. Allen (aka Johnny Dolphin) dictates the inner proceedings from an outside control room. That is, until there is a power struggle featuring, wait for it, Steve Bannon. Yep, you can't make this stuff up.

Strangely the BIOSPHERE 2 phenomena, which at the time was a world wide sensation that predicted genius nutbars like Elon Musk, is relatively forgotten.

That mistake has now been remedied. Enjoy.

  • hipCRANK

Pass on this one and save yourself some time

This really is not a good doc. I have watched doc's on the most bizarre topics and was quickly drawn in and intrigued. This doc offered no appeal or interest from start to finish. It could have been really good based on the 2 year event but fell really flat. Dont waste your time on this one.

This is the Story Behind the Story

I remember this in the news when I was a kid and thought it was intriguing, but I only vaguely remember the controversy. I didn't understand the problems with what they did (it was an experiment after all, not a dare or a bet) and still don't. At the end, they had a better idea of what was needed before they began. That's what you get from an experiment, generally.

It started slow but it picked up nicely. I wish there could have been interviews with all eight of the Biospherians and maybe a little more about what they learned, but this documentary is about the people behind the experiment, not the experiment itself. And that's OK. Not what I was hoping for but I was pleased with what I got. I'm glad they showed that these people weren't part of what most people would consider a commune. I would have enjoyed having been part of a group like that, especially once they left San Francisco. It would have been absolutely fascinating.

Totally worth a watch.

I vividly remember this experiment...

Because as part of a west coast fam vacation- my father TOOK me here to see this (when they were still inside)! Had no idea all this drama went on behind the scenes, and honestly I'm still fascinated by the concept (all of which I didnt really understand as a kid). But to see now that this was really just a glorified science experiment by very smart and financially secure hippy folks wanting to live in a all made sense.

The Synergists

Greetings again from the darkness. Most all of us built a terrarium for science class when we were in junior high. Did you ever fantasize about living in it? Well that's basically what happened in 1991 when 8 scientists were sealed up in Biosphere 2, a giant terrarium built in Oracle, Arizona. Their mission was to live a self-sustained existence for two years, and this was done in the name of scientific research that might one day lead to humans living in space. It was known as Biosphere 2 since they considered Earth to be number one, and filmmaker Matt Wolf kicks off the documentary with actual news clips from that day in 1991 when the door was shut behind the eight biospherians.

After running those initial clips, Mr. Wolf immediately takes us back 25 years prior, and introduces us to The Synergists - a group of resourceful, very smart, free-thinkers who assembled in San Francisco under the charismatic leadership of John Allen. At first, it's a little confusing why we are watching these old 'home movies' from what appears to be a commune, and listening to these people, now 50 years older, talking about the good old days. Of course, the backstory of these folks with nicknames like Johnny Dolphin, Flash, Salty, and Firefly turns out to be the foundation of Biosphere 2 ... but not before they form Synergia Ranch in 1969 New Mexico, and then build a ship in Oakland from scrap metal in 1974. Their ship was named Heraclitus, after the Greek philosopher, and their inspiration was derived from writers Buckminster Fuller ("Spaceship Earth"), Rene Damaul ("Mount Analogue"), and William S Burroughs.

It's understandable if your thoughts drift towards 'cult' or 'commune', but as one of them states, they were "a corporation, not a commune." With international interests in a hotel, an art gallery, and a theatrical group, amongst other enterprises, they were able to sustain their creative pursuits ... unlike the many hippies of the era numbed by drug use. Inspired by the 1972 movie SILENT RUNNING, Mr. Allen and their in-house architect Phil Hawes began working on the idea of a self-contained space colony. By 1986, design work for Biosphere 2 had begun and Ft Worth oil billionaire Ed Bass was bankrolling the project. It was a massive undertaking both from planning and construction, plus the training and selection of biospherians began in 1990.

Given today's 'social distancing' due to COVID-19, it's a bit ironic that we are looking back at a 28 year ago small group isolation in a self-contained environment. Filmmaker Wolf doesn't shy away from the science world skeptics who, with a smidge of jealousy labeled the venture "trendy ecological entertainment." Whatever you call it, this was an international event and drew interest from all walks of life, right up until 1993 when the biospherians walked out of the dome. In another sign of remarkable symmetry to today's world, in 1994 Mr. Bass fired most of the original group, and put Steve Bannon (yes THE Steve Bannon) in charge of Biosphere 2. It might not surprise you that most of the scientific data and research soon disappeared.

Wolf takes us 25 years after the mission to catch up with Mr. Allen and other Synergists. The Synergia Ranch still exists and John Allen remains as energetic and idealistic as he was in the 1960's. Biosphere 2 is now open to the public and being managed by the University of Arizona, and we still aren't sure whether a pre-fab paradise will work in space. Wolf's film is filled with interesting tidbits from 3 different eras, and though the early days are quite entertaining, it seems entirely too much time is devoted to the time prior to the Biosphere. And because of that, many of our questions remain unanswered as to whether the two years advanced research, or whether the effort was nothing more than a glorified publicity stunt. Either way, capturing this in documentary form allows the 1991 Biosphere 2 project to be explained to future generations ... some we hope will be as innovative, and dream as big as the Synergists.

A fun doc with lot's of information

I knew very little about this story going into the movie and so I enjoyed all the background it presented. What makes this film work so well is the mass amount of archival footage it has. It has great characters and well shot interviews with a good message.

The first 30 minutes was a little slow and I wanted to get into the main story sooner is my only negative.