Pandora's Promise

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Pandora's Promise
Pandora's Promise.jpg
Directed byRobert Stone
Edited byDon Kleszy
Music byGary Lionelli
Release date
June 12, 2013
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$66,680[1]

Pandora's Promise is a 2013 documentary film about the nuclear power debate, directed by Robert Stone. Its central argument is that nuclear power, which still faces historical opposition from environmentalists, is a relatively safe and clean energy source which can help mitigate the serious problem of anthropogenic global warming.[2][3][4][5]

The title is derived from the ancient Greek myth of Pandora, who released numerous evils into the world, yet as the movie's tagline recalls: "At the bottom of the box she found hope."


The movie features several notable individuals who were once vehemently opposed to nuclear power but who now speak in favor of it,[2][6] including Stewart Brand, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas, Richard Rhodes and Michael Shellenberger.[7]

Anti-nuclear advocate Helen Caldicott is questioned[2][8] and along with Harvey Wasserman appears briefly at the beginning.[note 1] Historical clips of Jane Fonda, Ralph Nader and Amory Lovins speaking are used.

Richard Branson is credited as an executive producer,[10] as are Paul and Jody Allen, whose production company, Vulcan Productions, helped provide financial support.[7] A total of $1.2 million (US) was raised to finance the film, "particularly through Impact Partners, which provides documentary financing from individual investors. Mr. Stone said the money came mainly from wealthy who have worked in Silicon Valley."[11]


Topics mentioned or discussed in the film include:[2][12][13][14][15][16]


Stock footage and movie clips are used throughout Pandora's Promise to enhance the narrative. Scenes are shown of a No Nukes concert (1979), Margaret Thatcher addressing the United Nations General Assembly (1989),[note 2] and from the drafting of the Kyoto Protocol (1997). Movie/TV sources include: A Is for Atom (1953), Our Friend the Atom (1957), The China Syndrome (1979), and The Simpsons (1991).

The film poster depicts a piece of metallic enriched uranium[15] ("actual size" as printed) with the caption "What if this cube could power your entire life?"


In January 2013 it was shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[17] In March 2013 it was shown at the True/False Film Festival.[18] In June 2013 it won the Sheffield Doc/Fest Green Award for best addressing environmental challenges.[19]

In April 2013, it was announced that CNN Films had obtained the US television rights to Pandora's Promise;[20] it was shown on CNN in the US on November 7, 2013,[21] and seen by 345,000 viewers.[22] It was released on Region 2 DVD[23] in December 2013. A DVD via Alive Mind Cinema was announced for 24 June 2014.[24] It is also available via various digital distribution services.[25]


Reactions to the film have been mixed, if not polarized; e.g.:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The footage of Caldicott (first "Unidentified Female" in the CNN rush transcript, linked below) and Wasserman (first "Unidentified Male" in same) was taken at a post-Fukushima rally,[9] some details of which were published in: Abby Luby (13 October 2011). "Anti-Nuke Rallies Urge for Closure of Indian Point" (PDF). Westchester Guardian. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 January 2014. In summary, about 300 people attended the protest on 1 October 2011 at Pier 95 in New York City's Hudson River Park, which called for closure of the Indian Point Energy Center. John Hall, Karl Grossman and others spoke as well.
    Video recordings of Caldicott's speech from the event have been posted online:
    Dr. Helen Caldicott speaks out at No Nuke Rally 2011 against Nuclear Reactors on YouTube.
    Closing Indian Point with Dr. Helen Caldicott, October 1, 2011 on YouTube.
    Why let dickheads run the world? Congress belong to you. on YouTube. (Also has Wasserman's speech at the end.)
  2. ^ Margaret Thatcher's "Speech to United Nations General Assembly (Global Environment)". 8 November 1989. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  3. ^ James Hansen on nuclear power on YouTube (Pandora's Promise's channel)
  4. ^ Former Greenpeace/UK Executive Director Stephen Tindale on nuclear power and renewable energy on YouTube (Pandora's Promise's channel)


  1. ^ "Pandora's Promise (2013)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 24 September 2013. ("Domestic Total as of Aug. 8, 2013")
  2. ^ a b c d O'Sullivan, Michael (13 June 2013). "'Pandora's Promise' movie review". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  3. ^ Raynaldy, Romain (19 Jan 2013). "Pro-nuclear activists get pulpit at Sundance". Agence France-Presse. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  4. ^ Pandora's Promise - Q&A at the IFC Center's Stranger Than Fiction Series on YouTube (Pandora's Promise's channel)
  5. ^ Stone, Robert (20 June 2013). "Orthodox Environmentalists Don't Want You to See My Environmental Film". Slate. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  6. ^ Pandora's Promise: Talks at Google on YouTube (AtGoogleTalks channel)
  7. ^ a b Kilday, Gregg (29 May 2013). "Paul Allen Lends Support to Pro-Nuclear Doc 'Pandora's Promise'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  8. ^ Robert Siegel (3 July 2013). "Film Rankles Environmentalists By Advocating Nuclear Power". NPR. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  9. ^ Robert Stone [@RobertStoneFilm] (26 Aug 2014). "@ConradKnauer @PandorasPromise ha! Yes that's me. Those who claim I manipulated her ranting to make her look crazy should watch this" (Tweet). Retrieved 26 Aug 2014 – via Twitter. When asked if he is visible filming for Pandora's Promise in a YouTube video of the "No Nuke Rally 2011", the director replied: "ha! Yes that's me. Those who claim I manipulated her ranting to make her look crazy should watch this."
  10. ^ "Virgin's Richard Branson Defends Nuclear". The Breakthrough Institute. 20 December 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  11. ^ Tom Roston (14 June 2013). "A Rebel Filmmaker Tilts Conservative". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  12. ^ "Argonne's IFR plays a role in environmentalists' support for nuclear energy". Argonne National Laboratory. 31 May 2013. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Revkin, Andrew C. (13 June 2013). "A Film Presses the Climate, Health and Security Case for Nuclear Energy". Dot Earth. The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2013.
  14. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (24 Jan 2013). "Sundance: What makes 'The Way, Way Back' a crowd-pleaser? Plus 'Pandora's Promise,' a radically sane and important documentary about how nuclear power could save us". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  15. ^ a b Biello, David (4 June 2013). "Pandora's Promise: The Triumph of Hope over Fear in Nuclear Power?". Scientific American. Retrieved 30 September 2013.
  16. ^ Transcript from CNN's airing linked in #External links section.
  17. ^ "Pandora's Promise - Festival Program". Sundance Film Festival. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  18. ^ "Films - True/False Film Fest". True/False Film Festival. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Sheffield Doc/Fest: The Sheffield Green Award". Sheffield Doc/Fest. Archived from the original on 4 August 2013. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
  20. ^ "CNN Films Announces Acquisition of 'Pandora's Promise' for Fall 2013 Broadcast". CNN. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
  21. ^ "CNN Films to air Pandora's Promise Thursday, Nov. 7". CNN. 29 October 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  22. ^ Dominic Patten (8 November 2013). "CNN Suffers Time Slot Meltdown With Nuke-Themed 'Pandora's Promise' Docu". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 10 November 2013.
  23. ^ "Pandora's Promise [DVD]". Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  24. ^ Alive Mind Cinema Releases Sundance-selected documentary Pandora's Promise (press release)
  25. ^ Amazon Video: [1]
    Google Play: [2]
    iTunes: [3]
    Netflix: [4]
  26. ^ Kennette Benedict (2013-06-10). "Pandora's false promise". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
  27. ^ "Pandoras [sic] Promise Propaganda". Friends of the Earth Australia. Retrieved 27 September 2013.
  28. ^ Lyman, Edwin. "Movie Review: Put "Pandora's Promise" Back in the Box". All Things Nuclear. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  29. ^ Michael Moore & Robert Stone at The Traverse City Film Festival on YouTube (Pandora's Promise's channel)
  30. ^ John Quiggin (8 November 2013). "Reviving nuclear power debates is a distraction. We need to use less energy". The Guardian.
  31. ^ Governor Whitman on Pandora's Promise on YouTube (CASEnergy Coalition's channel)

External links[edit]