Set in 1969, Apollo 11: Quarantine is a documentary short that shows what happened after NASA’s successful launch to the moon. In case the astronauts made contact with any microscopic life on the moon, NASA deemed it necessary for them to distance themselves from others for 21 days as a precaution so that they could be properly monitored. Using never before seen footage, the film gives you an interesting look into what it was like for them to quarantine.
Premiering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release of Apollo 11 could not have been timed better. Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, the film does a good job portraying the mood and feeling of quarantine as well. By showing scenes of the astronauts playing mundane games to pass the time, waving to friends and family from afar and celebrating birthdays alone, the experience of the astronauts greatly mirrors that of people who are forced to quarantine today. Stuck in isolation, everyone is so close but so far away and cannot be reached. With most of the scenes filmed in silence, the viewer gets a good sense of the boredom and isolation these brave astronauts felt.
Admittedly, the documentary does feel a bit slow. Though it may match the current feeling of quarantine by people today, the lack of narrative or urgency does make the film feel a bit boring. In many ways, Apollo 11 almost feels like we were just watching people relax or prisoners stay in their room all day. (Though, again, that’s a fair point considering the parallels to our experiences today.)
Even so, Apollo 11: Quarantine offers us a new look into the days that follow the Apollo 11 mission from the astronauts’ point of view. What’s more, given our situation in 2021 due to COVID, the film provides an interesting angle into both space life and quarantine in general. In many ways, though the footage was taken in 1969, it could have also been shot last month with the average American family.
Apollo 11: Quarantine is available on Apple TV.