Pandora's Box

Pandora's Box

1992, Society  -    -  Playlist 26 Comments
Ratings: 7.33/10 from 24 users.

Pandora's BoxIt began with a weapon created by scientists that threatened to destroy the world. But then a group of men who were convinced they control the new danger began to gain influence in America. They would manipulate terror.

To do so, they would use the methods of science. Pandora's Box was a six part 1992 BBC documentary television series written and produced by Adam Curtis, which examines the consequences of political and technocratic rationalism.

Curtis' later The Century of the Self had a similar theme. The title sequence made extensive use of clips from the short film Design for Dreaming, as well as other similar archive footage.

Episode 1: The Engineer's Plot. The revolutionaries who toppled the Tsar in 1917 thought science held the key to their new world. In fact, it ended up creating a bewildering world for millions of Soviet people. In this light-hearted investigation, one industrial planner tells how she decided the people wanted platform shoes, only to discover that they had gone out of fashion by the time that the factory to manufacture them had been built.

Episode 2: To The Brink of Eternity. Focusing on the men of the Cold War on whom Dr Strangelove was based. These were people who believed that the world could be controlled by the scientific manipulation of fear - mathematical geniuses employed by the American Rand Corporation. In the end, their visions were the stuff of science fiction fantasy.

Episode 3: The League of Gentlemen. Thirty years ago, a group of economists managed to convince British politicians that they had foolproof technical means to make Britain great again. Pandora's Box tells the saga of how their experiments have led the country deeper into economic decline, and asks - is their game finally up?

Episode 4: Goodbye Mrs Ant. A modern fable about science and society, focusing on our attitude to nature. Should we let scientists be the prime movers of social or political change when, for instance, DDT made post-war heroes of American scientists only to be put on trial by other scientists in 1968? What kind of in-fighting goes on between rival camps before one scientific truth emerges, and when it does emerge, just how true is it?

Episode 5: Black Power. A look at how former Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah set Africa ablaze with his vision of a new industrial and scientific age. At the heart of his dream was to be the huge Volta dam, generating enough power to transform West Africa into an advanced utopia. But as his grand experiment took shape, it brought with it dangerous forces Nkrumah couldn't control, and he slowly watched his metropolis of science sink into corruption and debt.

Episode 6: A is For Atom. An insight into the history of nuclear power. In the 1950s scientists and politicians thought they could create a different world with a limitless source of nuclear energy. But things began to go wrong. Scientists in America and the Soviet Union were duped into building dozens of potentially dangerous plants. Then came the disasters of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl which changed views on the safety of this new technology.

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Leon Lynes
8 years ago

never changed my views on the safety or lack therof..... should have sent the spent fuel to the moon....

9 years ago

its almost a parody of itself...i found myself laughing at stuff that clearly wasnt meant to be funny, lol "using computers to forecast scientific progress" instead of using them to MAKE scientific progress...that's hilarious stuff

10 years ago

Fascinating, but truly, some of the worst editing I have seen in a documentary. Gotta love the scene transitions aided by sudden, jarring, industrial sounds.

10 years ago

Just listen to the psycopath Herman Kahn and the rest of the insane of the Hudson Insitute promote nuclear wars and mass death. Malchik at least is honest enough to admit he is too dense to understand such psycopaths while he blames it on "liberals". The reality of this classic documentary proves once again the failure of the American people to think critically which allows such as Kahn's insanity.

11 years ago

Typical left wing luddite work!

11 years ago

Highly recommended. Adam Curtis nailed it again.

11 years ago

we live in a world of probability, random chance barely under our control. when we substitute this fact with arrogant whishfull thinking we end up with bizzarre often disastrous consequences. The more these descisions rest in the hands of a few the more distorted the results.When will we feel its the responsable thing to do to say " I dont know"? How do we keep power away from people who say " I know!".Its only the wisdoms of crowds that offers us the best chance to survive these fools.

11 years ago

Greatest doc site!!!!!!!

11 years ago

my fav was the last; A is for atom, well done and a great complement to other nuclear docs. also sadly very timely now with japan.

12 years ago

Vlatko thank you so much for your hard work.

This is my favourite site :)

12 years ago

Whenever I attempt to watch "Pandora’s Box, Episode 5 – Black Power," I get the following:
"This video is currently not available.
Please try again later."

Is anyone else experiencing similar difficulties? Is there somewhere else where I can either watch or download this episode?


12 years ago

Maybe if only scientists were able to design new system, like Venus project and no political a**hole would speak to that system, than it would work.

13 years ago

the analysis he applies to communism in the first episode is so succinct. It makes me wonder if perhaps the current economic crisis - sorry for the rhetoric! is in fact the death throws of yet another failed ideology. in the same way that communism was flawed as it failed to account for cost, is perhaps capitalism equally flawed in that it fails to account for the environment?

13 years ago

This is a fascinating series!

13 years ago

just co dthe bbc say it, dunt mean its twoo

13 years ago

Adam Curtis has done it again; great documentary, very informative

14 years ago

Another must see. Adam Curtis has produced some of the most thought provoking TV that I have seen. He has real insight. Power, ideas and consequence of the elite that control us.

14 years ago

i love this site! good job, keep it up!!