'Impact Partners', in association with 'Vulcan Productions' and 'CNN Films', present 'Pandora's Promise', the groundbreaking new film by Academy-Award - nominated director Robert Stone. The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong? An audience favorite at the Sundance Film Festival, 'Pandora's Promise' asks whether he one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, risking their careers and reputations in the process.
As a outspoken liberal and lover of nature and the environment the prospect of Pandora’s Promise, a documentary in which notable environmentalists and scientific experts explain why they have radically changed their stance on nuclear energy, immediately got my back up; however the appearance of once notorious protesters presenting themselves as advocates of what I have always thought of as “dirty and dangerous power” offers the un-missable opportunity to see what these Judas’ had to say for themselves.
The film opens with images of the recent nuclear disaster in Fukushima, a place that is later visited by the film maker and well known environmentalist Mark Lynas; such opening shots are clearly intended to remind audiences of the devastating potential of this particular form of energy, yet as Lynas himself says, being an environmentalist no longer means explicitly being anti-nuclear power.
This change, according to the documentary’s film maker Robert Stone, comes out of a new understanding of nuclear power and a differentiation between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons; Stone calls upon a number of recognisable names to trumpet this distinction, including American environmental expert Michael Shellenberger who frankly admits that his opinions of nuclear power were once based upon dubious statistics and inaccurate information which themselves were anchored entirely in ignorance.
Now championing nuclear power as a possible answer to the global problem of carbon emissions Shellenberger’s testimony is not unique within the film, yet the film deftly maintains an understated tone, avoiding condescension and preaching which can so easily run riot in such pieces.
The depictions of the visits to Fukushima and Chernobyl remain with me, the sight of the destruction and the knowledge of the long ranging (both physical and temporal) repercussions are quite haunting, yet it is hard to ignore, when presented with the scientific information, the possible usefulness of nuclear power.
Does the film offer the answers to all the questions about nuclear power? No, in my opinion there still remain considerable holes in Stone’s argument, however taking an entirely impartial look at Pandora’s Promise I must admit that my initial uncertainty has been largely assuaged; the film presents a difficult and controversial subject in a clear and thought provoking fashion, the images and archival footage used are both powerful and fascinating whilst the discussion and points put forward by those involved in the piece, by and large, avoid smacking too much of propaganda. I can not say that I am now an convert, but if nothing else I feel more well informed.