PANDORA’S PROMISE (Robert Stone). 90 minutes. Opens Friday (July 12). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NNN
The extreme feelings that the subject of nuclear power elicits arise from the issue's importance. Pandora's Promise carefully examines these emotions, dismantling the various prejudices and misconceptions clouding the energy debate.
Writer/director Robert Stone - who looked at the fallout of nuclear weapons testing in 1988's Radio Bikini - begins with the premise that the conversation has been dominated by unproductive, fear-based bias. That he cherry-picks his facts to prove his thesis is ultimately the doc's greatest fault. But his film isn't meant to be a thorough, holistic re-evaluation of alternative energy. It's a defence of the nuclear model.
Pandora's Promise aims, as one speaker puts it, to "put nuclear in its proper context." To this end, Stone scrutinizes how the environmental movement that coalesced in the 60s reacted negatively to nuclear, in large part because of its associations with weaponry. He also interviews engineers and technicians who explain that disasters like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima are unlikely - even impossible - thanks to modern safety protocols.
Some of these claims - like the Chernobyl fallout zone being comparatively safe, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary - verge on the irresponsible.
One-sidedness aside, the film offers plenty to chew on.