The Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974)

aka Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen, The Last Days of Planet Earth
Article 3839 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-7-2012
Posting Date: 2-17-2012
Directed by Toshio Masuda
Featuring Tetsuro Tanba, Toshio Kurosawa, Kaoru Yumi
Country: Japan
What it is: Disaster movie

A professor believes that a recent rash of ecological disasters fits in with the prophecies of Nostradamus… and that the end of the world is at hand.

Just from the titles, I was expecting a documentary of some sort, albeit one from Japan rather than from Sunn Classics. Instead, it’s an attempt at the ultimate disaster movie. For the record, I’ve seen the full 114 minute version in Japanese with subtitles instead of the dubbed pan-and-scan version; I’ve not heard good things about the latter, and the movie’s low rating of 4.8 on IMDB is probably at least partially due to this other version. However, even uncut and letterboxed, this is no classic; it’s perhaps the preachiest movie I’ve ever seen and has its share of silly moments. Still, it has some good moments amid the sound, the fury, and the chatter. Two of the scenes take the disasters on a despairingly human level (a fisherman tries to commit suicide by walking into the sea after the fish have all been poisoned, and a prospective grandfather becomes enraged when his first grandchild is born with genetic deformities), and it’s hard not to be effected by these scenes. There’s also at least one startling special effects sequence in which the sky becomes a large mirror reflecting the surface of the earth. There’s also a memorable sequence in a cave in New Guinea that will probably stick in the memory. Other scenes are just bizarre, such as the scene where a bunch of motorcyclists drive over a cliff, and the attempts to attach these sequences to quotes from Nostradamus will often leave you scratching your head. All in all, it’s just way too heavy-handed to be truly effective, and you may want to prepare yourself for a real fake-out at the end of the movie.


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