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This movie and I have a very interesting history. I first heard of Nostradomus when I watched an "In Search Of.." special on his life and times. They said he predicted King Henry's death in a jousting tournament and all kinds of other things. I remember watching this film in the 1980s and it scared me to death, especially the part in the end about the third Anti-Christ, the evil Warlord in a blue turban who will start WWIII. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, I read an article that said he was the third anti-Christ and it scared me even more. I served in Desert Storm with the National Guard and I can remember all the time I was over there I thought the world was going to end just like it showed in this ridiculous film, I about drove myself crazy worrying over nothing! My father always used to tell me that I was foolish even thinking about Nostrodomus. Well anyway, I read a book on this prophet by a man named James Randi and he pointed out that Nostrodomus was really a fraud. His predictions are so vague that they can be twisted and turned to mean almost anything. All right, he talks about something called Hister in his predictions, in this movie they try to make it out like he predicted the rise of Adolf Hitler. But if you do a little bit of studying, you find Hister was the name of a river in France! Friends there is nothing to worry about! In the wake of these terrorist attacks, people have tried to make it out like he predicted those as well. Dont make the mistake I did, its not even worth thinking about. Orson Welles has a great narrator's voice and makes the story come alive, but just watch it and laugh. Looking back, I feel so foolish that I let this film frighten me so much, I should have listened to my father.
I saw this "documentary" on HBO in the early '80s when I was an
impressionable youth. It, too, scared the hell out of me. But then I grew
up, and realized that though history DOES repeat itself; it's only
blind human nature and ignorance leaves the steering-wheel to chance all
often...and the side-show master, Mr. N, was intelligent enough to
this. It's far easier to open your ass to prophesy than to assert your
The fact that The History Channel deigned this hour of tripe as being worthy of airing astounds me. I would never imagine that a reputable outlet of education would broadcast this fantasy within a couple of months of the horrors of September 11, 2001. Perhaps the Jihadi have it right when they condemned us to death for being Godless (or is it Allahless?): we readily consume this freakish "entertainment" instead of respecting the sanctity of our dead. Hooray! I have something to pontificate about at the water-cooler on Monday! As if I had an education and some social bearing.
Then we have other morons who will spout the quatrains as fact. Like that idiot reporter in NYC on the DAY of the 9/11 attacks; with the smoldering wreckage of the WTC in the background, he quoted the fiction of Mr. N. I imagine this ass-lick was attempting to improve his career. Congratulations! I hear Santa and the Easter Bunny are plotting Apocalypse too. Next time, try to respect the slaughtered before manufacturing drama. I suppose it was all `inevitable' though.right?
If you have any respect in yourself, your fellow man, and free will; view this fiction for entertainment purposes only.
And please, PLEASE, shun the ignorant. In your heart, you know what need be done.
Of course this documentary is now viewed with a certain amount of hilarity. However when it came out in 1980 it was received quite well. Chock full of stock footage from David L. Wolper past productions it tells the tale of the legendary Nostradamus and his predictions of the future. The tale of the three anti Christ make up a bulk of the film. The third (and yet still unknown) is the mysterious Blue Turbaned man from the middle east who will cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war in the 90's. The film is entertaining in it's own little way even though it is now obviously riddled with predictions that didn't happen. Then again who knows maybe the dates of the predictions are wrong. Orson Welles adds his special touch
Every time the world faces a disaster, somebody intones, self-righteously,
"Nostradamus PREDICTED it..." Be it a flood, an earthquake, an
assassination, or anything in-between, the sixteenth century French cleric
wrote about it, somehow, in the midst of his hundreds of ambiguous
quatrains. His writings have become the nonbelievers' Book of Daniel and the
Revelations of St. John the Divine, reference works almost occult in stature
about the future of the human race.
As a potential source for a 'cheap buck', his writings are invaluable, as they can so easily be twisted to mean ANYTHING, so low-budget documentaries pop up frequently with "definitive" interpretations, and THE MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW is, perhaps, the most famous of the lot. Best-known for having Orson Welles, looking suitably Satanic, as the Host/Narrator, pouring over ancient documents and looking up at the camera as if he were 'channeling' Nostradamus' spirit, himself (Once a ham actor, always a ham actor...), the documentary jumps to stock footage of natural disasters, the Nazis, Hollywood renditions of Napoleon, and newsreels of John and Robert Kennedy, all the while stating how dictators ('Anti-Christs'), Popes, Kings and Presidents' lives and deaths were foreseen with unerring accuracy.
The problem arises when the 'future' is predicted, using his writings. Whether our world survives or falls into chaos, there has NEVER been a 'fortuneteller' who predicted what lies ahead correctly. It is only AFTER the fact that one can 'interpret' the writings to 'fit' what has happened. It reminds one of the old joke about fortunetellers...if they are so accurate, why aren't they all rich from winning lotteries, horse races, and such? From Nostradamus to contemporary 'visionaries' like Jeanne Dixon, what HASN'T happened that was 'predicted' as coming to pass always trips them up...while their supporters quickly offer excuses that we simply 'misinterpreted' what was foreseen.
So don't face what lies ahead with fear, when watching THE MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW...just enjoy it for the cheesy spectacle it is, and perhaps mourn the fact that non-film fans may remember Orson Welles more from his overripe performance, here, than for CITIZEN KANE or TOUCH OF EVIL.
Nostradamus probably predicted THAT, too...
I remember this being on Cinemax all the time back in the early 80s, I taped it, and when I was in high school, I mentioned it to a teacher, and she had me bring it in and the class watched it, and then the school library borrowed it and made a copy. I wonder if they still have it, they should be ashamed of themselves if they show it to any more classes, I was just a teenager, but these were educated adults taking this nonsense seriously. I saw it again recently, I remember being absolutely mesmerized by it at the time, I'm almost embarrassed that I was ever naive enough to take this for anything more than base entertainment. The whole production is just so cheap and silly looking, and most of the predictions haven't panned out, I'm sure Nostrodamus was a slick talking con man of his time, sort of like Sylvia Brown now, just say a lot of vague things and hope people overlook it when your wrong. All of that being said, Orson Wells has a great presence, and he almost makes this tripe seem plausible, if you close your eyes. If you saw it way back when, it's kind of fun to revisit it and goof on it, but you've never seen it, there's no need to.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film had a resurgence just before the first Gulf War, but then
died out quickly thereafter.
It's a Wolper Production, so the quality is quite high. Much of the film is comprised of newsreel footage and the like. Only when it comes to the future predictions does the "acting" begin.
Welles is quite game throughout, as absurd as the source material is. I particularly like the attempts to make actual history "fit" into the woefully obscure and vague predictions.
Watch it so you can laugh about the incorrect predictions, but don't take is seriously.
In my view, "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow" makes an even better argument
than it intends to, due to things that have happened since the movie
came out. Michel de Nostradamus prophetized that the people's princess
would get killed in a moving metallic object. We just recently passed
the 25th anniversary of Grace Kelly's death and the 10th anniversary of
Princess Diana's death, both in car wrecks.
But there's more. According to Nostradamus, the third Antichrist (the first two being Napoleon and Hitler) would rise to power in the Middle East during the period of about 1994-1999 and launch an attack on a great city near the 45th parallel, which narrator Orson Welles says would probably be New York. How true it all came, even if this is all a matter of interpretation.
Overall, the movie leaves it up to us to decide whether or not we believe that Nostradamus was right. Although you gotta admit that they make a pretty convincing case. Welles, speaking in a no-nonsense tone and smoking a cigar, creates a rather eerie feeling...the kind of eerie that makes you truly respect the work that they must have done to put this movie together.
So, I recommend this one. While some of Nostradamus's prophecies obviously didn't come true, it's truly scary how accurate others turned out to be. As for the third Antichrist - presumably Osama bin Laden - plunging the world into a massive war, the Bush family's business ties to the bin Laden family have certainly turned the world into a powder keg. As for the future, we'll just have to see how things turn out. Worth seeing.
PS: this was the second time that Orson Welles narrated a movie. The previous one was the 1975 documentary "Bugs Bunny Superstar", a look at the early days of Termite Terrace, padded with nine classic cartoons.
I don't think the prophecies of Nostradamus are any "news" to any one.
Certainly to no one reading these reviews, and even in 1981, he was
getting some of the "underground" appeal. By the time this film came
out, he entered into super fame status thereafter.
This film is a great visual piece, and I think it should be of note that even narrator Orson begins by saying this film is not his idea, inferring that he is not "sold" on Nostradamus.
And so, Orson does a fantastic narration, which in view of his denial of belief, makes this a great acting job on his behalf.
I was never sold on the prophecies, and neither were most of us in the arts, because we could see how vague the "quatrains" were. Give enough vague verses, and they have to come true across the globe over hundreds of years.
The only amazing thing is that less that 100% of them came true so far, in some interpretation. That would be amazing.
The "legend" of Nostradamus is very akin to Tyrone Power in NIGHTMARE ALLEY. The con approach is to be general enough, and hit upon items that can have many meanings. I practiced this myself around 1990 with some friends, and scared them senseless with one quatrain, which incidentally came totally true on 9-11-01. I wasn't being "insightful". I just knew that "twin towers", "Sun falling", and other phrases could have dozens of meanings. "Twin towers" could mean basketball players, Minnesota cities, the buildings, and who knows what else.
So, it isn't to be taken seriously. It's "fun and games", this film is. And it is great fun and games. Very interesting, very well done, very entertaining. Thumbs up.
I watched this movie in the 80s. I saw it several times and recorded it on VCR. My copy is so blurry now it is hard to watch. The interesting thing to consider is that this movie was produced in 1981. Half of the movie deals with the past from the 1981 prospective. The movie points out the nearly correct predictions of the past. The producers never said he was dead on every prediction. Rather it was uncanny how he was able to closely describe events of the future and was fairly close on details. What is more interesting now that the film is 34 years old is that the predictions laid out in the movie have indeed happened or are happening. Ignorance would cast these closely described descriptions as smoke and mirrors. For instance the prediction that man made mountains in the new world (there was no NYC when he wrote it) would be destroyed by attacks by the Middle East....hmmm. The movie depicted it as missiles being launched across the sea when in reality it was planes launched from airports in the US but directed by middle east sponsored terrorists....nahh ridiculous right? A third Antichrist, purple turbin, Middle East...ridiculous??? Anyone seen the videos of the ISIS folks beheading, crucifying and burning people? Nahhhh, ridiculous again. The movie is worth considering, not sell all possessions and bunker down but have an ear up for the awareness the film and the predictions offer. It is worth considering. Be careful of the demonstrative individuals who can absolutely assert that nothing prophesied is ever going to happen.
I think its important to note that when you make literally thousands of predictions, some of them will certainly occur. That said, every prediction Nostradamus made is open to numerous and varied interpretations. As we move toward whatever future may be for us, there will always be those who will see something in a quatrain that strikes them as similar enough to think, "AHA! He got it right!". When you watch this movie, keep in mind that several of the more popular quatrains have been applied to multiple events at various times through history, always with the "AHA!" moment in the minds of the interpreters. There have understandably been those people who, acting in their own devious interests, have manufactured events specifically to resemble predictions, knowing that men who believe events will unfold a certain way, will work to ensure they do, even to their own detriment. Keep in mind, Nostradamus' own disclaimer: "the One who is reasonable can learn from my prophecies how to find the right path to take as if he would have found footprints in the sand from someone who has gone before." The future IS ours to choose. Our future may be predetermined, but its predetermined by our choices each day.
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