|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||18 reviews in total|
Nostrodamusu no Daiyogen was released originally in 1974 and subsequently
banned in its homeland due to two scenes graphically depicting the
of radiation exposure. The Japanese censors thought that the two scenes
were far to reminiscent of the Hiroshima bombing to be seen by the public
large. Toho has since disowned the title, which has never been
released in its original and unaltered form.
Catastrophe 1999, the international version of the film, was played in Europe and elsewhere. The film was cut from 114 minutes to 85, mostly removing important characterization scenes and the heartfelt speech of the Japanese Prime Minister that occurs in the final minutes of the film. This cut is still available on VHS in some European nations, but is hard to come by.
In the 1980's, Harry Saperstein (responsible for the US television releases of films like War of the Gargantuas and Frankenstein Conquers the World) got a hold of a print and butchered it into a cut several minutes longer than the international version (88 minutes) but lacking even more of the important scenes in the film. The original introduction was recut beyond repair, most of the references to Nostradamus and his prophecies were removed, and a makeshift ending was tacked on that minced scenes from the original Japanese ending and other parts of the film together. Paramount released a VHS and laserdisc of this version under the title The Last Days of Planet Earth and it is still played on television occassionally.
Thankfully for fans of Japanese cinema, someone located an unadulterated timecoded print of the film and has since made the original 114 minute version available, albeit only in Japan. I managed to snare a copy through an import service. The differences are astounding. Gone is the choppy editing of the international and US versions of the film, vanished is the dubbing, and what's left is one of the finest Japanese disaster films of all time. I can say for a fact that those of you who have only seen the Last Days of Planet Earth or Catastrophe 1999 prints of the film have, in fact, not seen the film at all. Judging the film by watching these butchered versions is not only difficult, but nearly impossible.
I encourage anyone with interest in the film to locate a copy of the 114 minute cut. It may not be for everyone, but those that even slighly enjoyed either of the cut versions are sure to find infinitely more to enjoy in the original Japanese version.
"The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus" is an epic tale of a world gone
a family trying to keep it all together during a crisis, and a man's
tireless efforts to save humanity from itself. In its original form, the
film is an apocalyptical masterpiece. The plot and story (what story there
is) moves along very quickly and the viewer is instantly pulled into the
characters' dying world. I can't think of any other end-of the-world
that is as terrifying, haunting, petrifying, and beautiful all at the same
time. The movie manages to slide along all those moods effortlessly.
it's maligned reputation at home and in the west, "The Great Prophecies of
Nostradamus" is one of the best films Toho has ever made. Everyone
with the project should be proud of what they've done.
I'd like to give special recognition to Yoko Tsukasa's performance as the doomed Nobuo Nishiyama. Out of all the actors in the movie, Tsukasa is the most shortchanged. A good 45-50% of her screen time was cut from the original version of the film, and even more so from "The Last Days of Planet Earth" (in which she's reduced to essentially a cameo appearance). Tsukasa's first foray into Toho's fantasy output was as Princess Tachibana, who is harassed by the Yamato no Orochi in "The Birth of Japan" (aka "The Three Treasures"). Tsukasa has appeared in many prolific pictures for Toho including "Yojimbo", "47 Ronin", "Don't Call Me a Con Man", "Battle of the Japan Sea", and was seen as recently as this year's "Lucky Ears". Her role as Nobuo merely requires her to love her family and little else but she is masterful in playing it (it's nothing but appropriate that the audio track used when she dies is named "Death of a Loving Thing"-that wraps up Nobuo's character fairly well). Speaking of which, her death scene is another one of the highlights of the film. She puts Ali MacGraw's similar death scene in "Love Story" to shame-instead of whining to her husband about various life concerns, Nobuo bravely faces her death without fear and comes off as one of the most honorable characters in the film. As with much of the picture, this sequence is inexplicably cut to shreds in both the international version and "The Last Days of Planet Earth".
The cinematography by Rokuro Nishigaki is particularly well-crafted. In the original Tohoscope format everything looks top-notch, whether it's Feudal-era pagodas, brilliant sunsets, or a couple running along a shoreline with the sea shimmering nearby. It's a shame that in "The Last Days of Planet Earth", the horrible pan and scanning destroys what is a beautifully-shot picture. In fact, the U.S. version looks faded, worn, and just plain ugly.
One tenuous complaint lodged against the film seems to be that it's too preachy. People who've only seen "The Last Days of Planet Earth" would certainly get that impression-the new narrator's nonsense (who nearly destroys the picture) IS preachy; he constantly reminds us about how the end is coming over and over again. However, "The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus" is merely a straightforward cautionary tale showing us that this is what we're doing to ourselves and we need to stop it in very much the same manner as Ishiro Honda's original "Godzilla" begged for a cease to atomic testing. Despite being based upon a prediction of our own doom, the movie itself is cautiously optimistic, firmly believing that humanity can pull together and overcome the odds.
We know now that Nostradamus was wrong and the world did not end in 1999. I know for sure that when I first saw the film that it terrified me as a child and there are many others who saw the film who feel the same way; it's filled to the brim with nightmare material-nuclear annihilation is still a very real threat. However, Nostradamus is basically a small part of the movie and can easily be overlooked. The fact that the film was made in 1974 and that it's still just as relevant today is quite jarring-the lesson this film wants to teach still needs to be learned, regardless of prophetic hooey.
Note 1: Avoid "The Last Days of Planet Earth" at all costs. Find the international cut or the 114-minute Japanese version if you can.
Note 2: Despite what various sources claim, Keiju Kobayashi is not in any cut of this film
The largely inferior American bastardization is a genuine travesty. I recently saw the original 114 minute Japanese language version on glorious widescreen. I must say this film packs a serious wallop. Unlike the US version which goes for the throat in the first ten minutes, this version takes time to properly develop it's characters and set up the mood. The film opens up in feudal Japan with a descendent of Nishiyama (Tetsuro Tamba)being persecuted for bringing the writings of Nostradamus into the country. His father was also persecuted during WWII as he predicts the rise of Hitler. The opening credits are chilling, one of the best intros I have ever seen in a movie. The music by Isao Tomita is one of the best film scores ever produced. I hope Toho ends the studio ban. This year marks its 30th anniversary and it's been banned for over 20 years. What are they so afraid of? Their are plenty of films over there more offensive to sensitivities than this film. This is a very different kind of Toho film and the US version obscures it. There's graphic violence, brief nudity and the handling of its subject matter is unflinching. Many of the scenes presented in the US version that appear nonsensical, pointless and mediocre are all explained here. The actors do a fine acting job (Seven Samurai and Godzilla's Takashi Shimura makes an appearance as a doctor) and Kaoru Yumi is a real hottie. The director Toshio Masuda and screenwriter Yoshimistu Banno (the Godzilla vs Hedora director) do a splendid job balancing beauty and the grotesque. this film is SUPERIOR to all other disaster films because it has heart, spirit and a brutal go-for-the-throat approach. The filmmakers were fearless making this. Lastly, Teruyoshi Nakano's special effects are superb to say the least, but admittingly some scenes dont work (the giant bats and the little girl jumping incredible heights). The traffic jam explosion scene is amazing. There's some stock Footage from The Submersion of Japan and The Last War, though. A subtitled print has to exist somewhere. I really hope classic media does a wonderful job on the DVD release.
I remember seeing Catastrophe 1999: Prophecy of Nostradamus (or on Brasil
TV, Catástrofe: Palavra do Nostradamus) when I was a little kid, and every
time something happened, like Mutants on the attack or cataclysms would
happen, I remembered running from the room, screeching at the top of my
lungs, heading for my bedroom closet! I swear, my sister is sucha psyco for
showing me this film when I was at an under ripe early
Forget Stephen King! I think the people whom worked on Catastrophe 1999 could just be a great creep out, despite some dated themes..... ...whew, that was a bit melodramatic *heh heh*
Depending on which version you see, it's either an epic masterwork or,
a truncated mess. Originally, the film was a 1974 follow-up to the
highly successful SUBMERSION OF JAPAN(1973). By this time, revenues for
Godzilla had been falling and Toho saw more money in the disaster film
genre. PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS was the next great, epic they did. The
original cut is quite long and details the events that lead to world
destruction by nuclear weapons. They had to work some monsters in there
so what we get are giant slugs(about a foot or two long) and, giant
bats(looked about four feet across). Details the story of a family in
Japan-a 1970's polluted country-and how the excesses of pollution,
famine and finally, war, effect them. Ostensibly, it's a loose remake
of THE LAST WAR from 1961, by Toho. It even features stock footage from
that film. There are some quite remarkable effects-a convexed
reflection in the sky, of Tokyo thanks to a polluted and sweltering
greenhouse effect which has occurred. A terrific matte painting of snow
covered pyramids. And, later, a nuclear-blasted landscape of earth wit
two VERY weird mutants scurrying for food. It was quite epic for it's
time and a long film.
In 1983 or thereabouts, Henry G Saperstein's company UPA(which had under it's belt five Godzilla films and some other Toho works) acquired the film and edited it down to a scant 90 minutes, and re-framed it, and had it narrated in the style of the old Sun Classic Pictures and those strange pseudo-documentaries that got wide releases on secondary markets in the US through the 1970's. They even named it THE LAST DAYS OF PLANET EARTH(kind of like THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH, another 70's pseudo-documentary) The result is kind of a mess, and while it retains some of the cool imagery, it jettisons a lot more making scenes jump along inexplicably and the whole thing becomes a "THis was just a possibility. We can change the future" kind of ending. It then was sold directly to VHS and TV so it wound up appearing usually very late at night on the old TNT "100% Weird" and AMC(when they showed a lot of old retro movies).One scene that was excised, for a time, in the Japanese LAser Disk print was that of the mutant humanoids fighting over a worm. It was such a disturbing scene that Toho removed it after complaints from Hiroshima survivors and such. So it made the US print highly sought after even in the truncated and panned and scanned form(the US VHS and LD copies were from a 16mm print) in Japan. Later, Toho would restore the scene.
Perhaps the US holders of the film, Classic Media, will see to releasing this film in it's full Japanese version.
I think the main reason a lot of folks look at Last Days of Planet Earth as
a bad movie is that it really is a "message" picture...and a Japanese
message picture at that. Message pictures really don't hold up well outside
the era they were filmed in.
The early seventies were filled with doom & gloom films like this...look at Toho's own Godzilla Vs. the Smog Monster. This movie is wreathed in the prophecies of Nostradamus as well, so you can fit a whole lot of "message" in.
The film has a lot of good shots and some good SFX (the reflected city and the final apocalyptic scene are both well executed), but the US dialogue track makes the whole thing sound pretty lame. I'd love to see a subtitled version of it to see what the picture really was supposed to be about.
Oh, what a wonderful movie!!!! I loved it!!! Ok, special effects are a little weak, but the script was terrific!!!
This film is so powerful that it was successfully banned in its native country. Unfortunately, horrible dubbing and sound mix, commercial fade-outs and other tampering have cheapened the film into only a hint of its original brilliance. The film sports a unique score by Isao Tomita, which, for me, defines the essence of decline in the penultimate year of the 20th century we are now in. Unfortunately, bad choices in American narration cause erratic volume changes which decrease the effect. Critics attacked it for the distinctly seventies fashions which are, as predicted, back in vogue. The film was actually not written by Yasumi, but updated from his script for _Sekai Daisenso_ (_The Last War_) and credited to him out of respect. Perhaps if the film, which is minimal on narrative and seems a forerunner to the work of Godfrey Reggio, were given a widescreen and subtitled reissue (and what better time than this year), respect for the film would increase. It pulls out all the stops with disasters, including the pestilence of giant slugs (which are simply giant slugs, like though that plague India, not flesh-eating or blood-eating as detractors of the film would like you to believe) and plants that tear through subways (and no, they do not eat people as some reviews claim). Nature takes things back from the city, young people find solace in random sex, wanton drug use, and suicide. Traffic jams wreak havoc as people get out of control, food rations are torn away as people believe there are shortages, while luxury beef diets continue, and Nishiyama believes they are all related to the prophecies of Nostradamus. Bizarre effects ensue, like snow on the pyramids, and people's highest morals are challenged. What we have is a work of cinematic brilliance torn apart by an American distributor until what results becomes fodder for MST3K. Know what neurofibromatosis looks like?
People don't watch Last Days of Planet Earth (American title) with the right
mindset. It's a surreal, absurdist experience. It's a movie that works in
the subconscious. What you see is not what you're suppose to feel or get. In
other words, it's not only about the end of the world but much more. On face
value, the film doesn't seem to make any sense but in your subconscious, it
makes sense. Only after watching the whole film and mulling over it a day or
two, that the film's real intent
will creep in your mind and hit you, whether you like it or not (and most
people don't like what it says about them or society, and so they're very
negative towards it).
Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen is a masterpiece! A one of kind film experience. And the music score is one of the best I've ever heard.
I would like to add my voice to those pointing out the contrast between
the original long Japanese version and the shortened American version.
It is not just a question of length. They are two different movies.
The Japanese version is balanced, thoughtful (believe it or not) and even has some subtle moments. It also leaves room for hope. There is something working in this that is very much lacking in the gargantuan excesses, overcharged adrenalin and endless CGraphics of recent Hollywood disaster indulgences.
The American version teeters between silliness and extreme depression. The dated effects and miniatures might turn you away but if you accept those and watch it through, it hammers away with hopeless imagery. As stark and as semi-cartoonish as the images might be, they are clearly recognizable as being rooted in aspects of the real world or its possibilities. If one is looking for a film to motivate a suicide pact to finally be put into action, this is it.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Parents Guide||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|