Pandora’s Promise Offers One Side of the Nuclear Debate


Like its gaggle of former anti-nuke environmentalists who’ve now switched sides, Pandora’s Promise takes the form of a traditional liberal pop-doc while proffering a decidedly nonconformist message. The case for nuclear power as the solution to both the planet’s rapidly escalating energy needs and the climate change produced by fossil fuels and natural gas is aggressively, and somewhat convincingly, made by writer-director Robert Stone. His doc bolsters his stance via a group of experts who have abandoned their prior activist assumptions about nuclear energy (and radiation) in the face of supposedly overwhelming evidence that it’s actually safe and clean. Investigating Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and the recent fallout from Fukushima while also delivering mounds of data about the boundless possibilities afforded by the technology—as well as confronting the fears surrounding it, most of which are rooted in its WWII bomb origins—the film deploys the usual mixture of talking heads, graphics, and archival footage to compelling effect. Alas, its argument against fear-driven orthodoxy is undercut by the fact that, as with so many of this subgenre’s entrants, there are no substantial competing voices included in the mix, so that the proceedings, no matter how logical their contentions, come off as merely one side of the debate.