The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)
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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.
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...
The documentary The Man Who Saw Tomorrow doesn't see it that way. Here is a movie that offers a tiny bit of biography about the supposed prophet, and then cobbles together footage from every source under the sun in an effort to prove his accuracy. Did he have fore-knowledge of the future? Did he accurately predict The French Revolution? Napoleon? The American Revolution? The Civil War? The rise of Hitler? World War II? The Atomic Bomb? The Kennedy Assassination? The Moon Landing? Is he also right in his prediction about World War III and the end of the world? Well, I don't happen to think so, but I am confused about whether the movie does. It spends 90 minutes reiterating that Nostradamus wrote down 2000 years worth of prophecies that came true and then adds a tag at the end to tell us that the producers of this film are actually less convinced of his accuracy than I am.
Hosted by Orson Welles, who sits in his stuffy office behind a desk smoking a cigar, The Man Who Saw Tomorrow attempts to lay out all of the major turning points of history by way of Nostradamus' writing. Before diving head-long into his predictions, we learn that Nostradamus was a hard working student who had ambitions to be a doctor but after losing his family in the plague, turned his ambitions toward writing down his predictions in quatrains, hiding his verses in anagrams and secret code in an effort to avoid being prosecuted for witchcraft. Early on, we learn, he kissed the robes of a young Franciscan friar who would someday be Pope Sixtus V. Later he was invited to the home of a dignitary where he accurately predicted which pig they would be eating. Curiously, he forgot to jot those things down.
The historical predictions put forth by Nostradamus are interesting, but the methods in which the movie presents them are, in a word, baffling. Nothing is off limits here. There is footage of the Kennedy assassination, the holocaust, The Moon Landing, the revolution in Iran. Then, for events where there is no footage, sometimes actors are used in recreations and other times we get footage from old movies like War and Peace. Sprinkled into the mix also are old newsreels, short films, documentary footage, illustrations and cheap special effects shots from old science fiction movies.
The only center of logic in this chaotic jumble is a very brief interview with former astronaut Edgar Mitchell who argues that the future is nothing more than our summation of present events. I think I would have liked to have heard more from him and less from Jean Dixon, who appears absurdly satisfied that she predicted the deaths of both John and Bobby Kennedy. That's before Welles informs us that we can see Nostradamus' accuracy if we simply keep one eye on the quatrains and the other on our daily newspaper. For me, that's just too much work. I think I'll just let the future surprise me.
The movie keeps insisting over and over that Nostadamus laid out a historical time line the revealed three men who would try to take over the world – Anti-Christs he called them. The first was Napoleon, the second was Hitler and the third is said to be a future tyrant who will come from the Middle East. This man, it is said, will plunge the world into a catastrophic war that will last 4 and 20 years, whatever that means.
That prediction lays out the film's final act in which Nostradamus apparently predicted that a Middle Eastern Warrior in a blue turban would start World War III at or about May of 1988. That leads to an embarrassingly silly scene with cheap sets right out of "Battlestar Galactica", with the governments of both The Middle East and The United States firing nukes at each other until civilization is obliterated. After that, the movie helpfully reminds us that Nostradamus predicted a thousand years of peace before the world ends in 3797.
The Man Who Saw Tomorrow is nothing more than a curiosity. Any attempt to take it seriously the requires the kinds of fruitless insights than are often attached to things like The Da Vinci Code, Roswell or Bigfoot. I'm no skeptic but I had to smile at most of this. It is a professionally made film that probably takes its subject more seriously than it should. I find the predictions of Nostradamus to be a curious but not essential element to human history. He seemed to have a good track record even if he did predict that Ted Kennedy would become President of the United States in 1984. Hey, nobody's perfect.
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.
Bad things happen, they have always happened and they always will. Any event in our recent memory will be served as a spectacular event but looking at events in our time they are all insignificant compared to historical events.
Hitler is always vaunted as an anti-Christ when (obviously he was a despicable tyrant) Stalin was responsible for far more suffering.
Live your lives and take control of them or someone else will at your behest.
The movie spends a lot of time explaining about how things that already happened were predicted by Nostradamus, especially the first two anti-Christs, Napoleon and Hitler. (Although lumping poor Napoleon in with Hitler is unfair.) Yes, those predictions make sense, if you are really, really interpretive.
It's when Welles tries to predict the future that things become dicey. Amongst things this movie predicted- Ted Kennedy would be President. (Pretty unlikely now, eh?) An Earthquake would level Los Angeles in 1989 (um, nope). That a vast war would break out in the 1990's that would result in the rise of the "THird Anti-Christ". As near as I can tell, none of that stuff happened, although I'll admit much of the 1990's is a blur to me today.
Still, fun to watch Welles on his last legs pontificate...
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.
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.
Nestled next to a crackling fireplace, cigar in hand, Mr. Welles informally recounts Nostradamus' early life and exploits (he developed an effective treatment for the plague), analyzes the prophecies which have already come to pass (the French Revolution; assassinations of world leaders; pasteurization; and the development of the submarine and all manner of flying contraptions, from the hot air balloon to modern spacecraft), and postulates on events still to come.
Mr. Welles' erudite narration is nicely complemented by historical footage and tasteful reenactments. The smoke from our host's ever-present cigar lends a dignified air of mystery which frames the film well.
Much attention is paid to Nostradamus' concept of the Antichrist: Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, both Antichrists, and a third whom the seer referred to in his quatrains as "Mabus." Mabus has yet to be definitively identified; he could be a mighty world leader or an obscure subversive. (Some have even suggested that Mabus could be the name of a powerful weapon or bomb.)
With Mr. Welles' unexpected death in 1985, we lost one of our most impassioned Mabus hunters. In the days that followed, as the world mourned and came to grips with its loss, sadness and confusion gave way to suspicion and conspiracy. Today, twenty years later, the same question is still on everybody's mind: Did this Mabus contrive to eliminate Mr. Welles before he could unmask Nostradamus' dreaded third Antichrist? It seems Charles Foster Kane has taken another secret with him to the grave.
Looking particularly bloated. What a shame. As for the subject of the film? Pfft. Bunk. Just live your lives and get over it. You'll be dead soon enough, don't worry about it. Trust in GOD, not some loon.
Of course, Orson said..."Keep one eye on the quatraines and one eye on the morning paper"! Actually, I'd put more faith in Orson, than in some French "prophet". What a shame ol Orson let himself go, physically. But I digress. Just watch this film for the fun of it. Nothing more.
Nostrodamus gives the location of the middle east as to when we would go to war. (Iraq)
He also mentions that the heir of a previous leader would be in charge at the time. (Bush Jr)
He also mentions of a an anti-Christ and that it would cause a 3rd world war that would last 7 years and that an ally from the east would turn on us.
(The leader of Russia has a very nasty track record, even banning the media in there country. Also this war with Georgia is due because Georgia made there own oil pipe line for there country not wanting to have anything to do with Russia. Up until then Russia had a pipe line that ran through China that was one of there main cash cows. They cut there supply off to Georgia. Georgia decided to charge less to others in the region, and have been at odds with Russia for years.. Now here is the prediction.. The USA needs to take a stance on this,.. However this could cause a war with Russia who in turn will get aid from China and most likely Cuba and the middle east. This pose's a major threat and with out troops already thinned out, this may cause a major problem for us.) THIS COULD BE THE WORLD WAR 3 he is speaking of that seems to be unfolding right now.
HE WILL FEAR THE BLACK ONE. (in a word,OBAMA is all I can think of right now. It was thought to be Colon Powell but I think this has to be Obama.)
To think these warnings were given to us over 20 years ago in this movie and we were too arrogant to listen.
JUST WOW!! worth watching! Keep it in your mind the whole time that this movie was made in 1981!
It is old, let's face it, but it predicted an earthquake in San Francisco around 1988, something wrong when the Halley comet ran by in April 1986 (Chernobyl disaster) and an attack on New-York by Muslims but the movie aid it was going to be a nuclear attack. It also predicts natural catastrophes (Tsunami? Hurricane Katrina? El Nino?) around the time of a conflict between America and the Muslim world. It's not a hundred percent precise but as far as interpretations of Nostradamus' predictions go, it is the most accurate I found.
But you really don't want to watch that with the lights off. The horror of the Nazi camps so well described and the future it predicts is so grim and yet close to the truth that it's quite scary.
The movie worked professionally with the past historical facts and linked it with Nostradamus' quatrains, facts like The rise and fall of Napoleon, The rise and fall of Hitler, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, John and Robert Kennedy and the fall of Shah Ali Bahlawy of Iran (Persia as Nostradamus said) and the rise of AyatoAllah Al Khomini .. the interpretations are so good concerning the past and the historical events but the future events (keep in mind that the movie was released in 1981 which is more than a quarter of a century ago) like the destructive earthquakes that will destroy San Francesco, The famine after the coming of the great comet (The movie mentioned the Halley comet which passed near the earth on 1986), and the hilarious interpretation about the third king of terror (Anti-Christ as the movie said) which was shown as a no more than a clown wearing strange outfit which reminds us with the Prince of Persia (lol) as to convince us that the coming king of terror will come from the middle east and will be a Muslim and will start the WWIII between 1994 and 1999!! Hurraaaaay !! of course all these interpretations are fake and didn't happen at all !!
Now let's talk about Nostradamus .. the real one:
All the historical facts and scenes in the movie featuring Nostradamus' life and death are absolutely true and historically authenticated .. the quatrains mentioned in the movie are almost true (with some mistakes from the translation of the quatrains from French to English) What is not correct are the interpretations.. for example:
- Orson Wells said that Nostradamus mentioned Moselini (Brute, empty minded, ... etc) but there's no evidence that Moselini was mentioned in the prophecies of Nostradamus
- Nostradamus didn't mention the word Anti-Christ describing Napoleon or Hitler or even the 3rd yet unknown king of terror (By the way, Nostradamus said that his name will be MABUS, he'll ignite a massive destructive war (maybe the WWIII) which will last for 27.5 years) .. the word Anti-Christ is not valid here as they are all not anti-Christs, the Anti-Christ is only one in the world history who'll appear at the end of time .. He didn't come yet .. he has special figure and characteristics known by the Christians and Muslims .. Napoleon was described in his era and since then as an (The Enemy of the Christ) when he insulted the Pope and took the imperial crown from him to put it on his own head, Hitler was described as (The Enemy of the man kind) when he insulted the cross (A Christian holy symbol) and changed it's shape to satisfy the Nazi's propaganda, the 3rd king of terror didn't come yet so how we can describe him as an anti-Christ ?!
- Killing and torturing the Jews is a crime made by Hitler but that does make him Anti-Semitic and not an Anti-Christ
- The Quatrain talking about the 3rd king of terror is (Century X Q72):
The year 1999, seventh month, From the sky will come a great King of Terror: To bring back to life the great King of the Mongols, Before and after Mars to reign by good luck.
so The 3rd king of terror can't be Muslim nor Arabian at all .. as Nostradamus described him He's a king (Remember the American dynasty! Bush the Senior and Bush the Junior?!) and he'll come in the seventh month of 1999 (Remeber the American Presidancy elections: Exit William Clinton and Enter G. W. Bush ??!!), he'll return the legacy of Ghengis Khan the king of Mongols (Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, he's quite controlling Pakistan by controlling Musharaf, and is threatening Iran and wants to invade it and also he's tampering with China) ..don't all that remind us with the way of Ghengis Khan) .. The quatrain ends by(before and after war reigns with good luck): so imagine who's luckier than Bush to win all the wars and to destroy his county's resources and economy just to provide more and more money and funds to his infernal military war craft which reigns the world by now .. The King of terror's name as Nostradamus said is MABUS (if we reverse the letter M upside down to be W, transfer the A to be H (very similar 2 letters) and put it in the end of the word then like a magic MABUS will be W BUSH .. VOILA .. got him!!
- The Anti-Christ is not a Christian or a Muslim as they both believe in Jessus (Eissa in Islam) and can't be against him
- I agree on the concept that Nostradamus was a strange and unrepeatable phenomenon that he really could see the future and the evidence for that is his prophecies which that are coming true day after day and era after era .. what I don't agree on is the selection, changing and manipulating his prophecies to serve political or Zionist ideas or purposes .. that the 3rd King or terror is a Muslim and death will come from the countries of Islam .. and etc with all that unreal and illogic mambo gambo ... we should consider and make up our minds to know the real hidden truth ...
Sorry Ors *** Lo'ay
After reading it, I went to the library and read, or tried to, some books on M. Nostradamus. Very hard reading, might I add.
18 years later, after I brought up the fact, I watched the documentary again with a friend, only to find that since watching it the first time, the earthquake he predicted in CA--came true. That was eerie.
Yes, Orson Wells, with his dark demeanor, does a fantastic job bring the film to life. Truth or Ficton? Many of his predictions have come true...you will have to decide for yourself, but what's really amazing is the fact that Nostradamus was born in 1503, he would have had no idea, or no way, of accurately putting into words what he saw in his visions...never having seen a sky-scraper before, or a plane, etc., etc. Take it for what it's worth. But keep in mind that perhaps he had those visions for a reason...read the bible, read revelations, maybe he was trying to tell us something. Maybe we should have paid attention.
I haven't seen the movie for two years, although I have wanted to since the terrorist attacks, but it has been rented out. Did he predict the end of the world...perhaps he did..the end of the world AS WE KNOW IT. There are many translations to Nostradamus' writings, but think about it, the world has changed since the attacks, and it truly was the end as we knew it.