Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Apollo 11: Quarantine (short)

Don't you miss the days when quarantining was something exotic? In the case of Apollo 11 astronauts, it was even heroic. They landed on the Moon and safely returned to Earth, but as soon as they splashed down, the crew had to spend twenty-one days in quarantine. Director Todd Douglas Miller returned to the same NASA archives that supplied footage for his amazing Apollo 11 documentary to assemble the 23-minute short film coda, Apollo 11: Quarantine, which releases this Friday on VOD.

When Miller locked
Apollo 11 before its 2019 Sundance premiere, the quarantine footage seemed understandably anti-climactic, so it only appeared during the closing credits. Then 2020 happened. Suddenly, a whole lot of people could sort of relate to their quarantine experience. Of course, all three astronauts were in good health, but they did not have the option of bingeing Game of Thrones during their quarantine.

It is definitely worth reviewing their quarantine experience, because it is clear NASA how carefully and extensively prepared for it. They crew was directly conveyed into a quarantine pod, which sort of resembled an Airstream trailer. It was then flown from Hawaii to Houston and shuttled across highways that were lined with flag-waving well-wishers. After watching
Quarantine, we hope the pod has been duly preserved in the Air Space Smithsonian or some other museum, because it is definitely an important piece of history.

Like the feature
Apollo 11, the clarity and immediacy of the footage in Quarantine is quite a marvel. It really makes viewers feel like they were there. It also instills further appreciation of the Apollo 11 astronauts. They were literally the toast of the world, but they patiently sat through their 21 days playing cards and doing photo ops through the window.

It is also easy to understand why Miller was inspired to return to this footage, when we see the crew celebrating a birthday party with friends and family, while divided by glass windows. It is suddenly timely, in a very unfortunate way. Regardless, any film that provides greater insight and perspective on the Apollo-era missions is certainly welcome—and Miller’s
Quarantine does exactly that. Very highly recommended for fans and boosters of the Space program, Apollo 11: Quarantine releases this Friday (2/5) on VOD.