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Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen

The Prophecies of Nostradamus
The Last Days of Planet Earth / Catastrophe 1999 / Nostradamus's Great Prophecies

Japan 1974
produced by
Osamu Tanaka, Tomoyuki Tanaka for Toho
directed by Toshio Masuda
starring Tetsuro Tanba, Toshio Kurosawa, Kaoru Yumi, Yoko Tsukasa, Katsuhiko Sasaki, Akihiko Hirata, Hiroshi Koizumi, Takashi Shimura, So Yamamura, Tappei Shimokawa, Mizuho Suzuki, Katsu Ryuzaki, Kazuo Kato, Taketoshi Naito, Jun Hamamura, Kyoko Kishida, Tatsu Nakamura, Franz Gruber, Osman Yusuf, Kuniyasu Atsumi, Ralph Jesser, Shunsuke Kariya, Toshizo Kudo, Chico Lourant, Masahiko Tanimura, Yasuko Agawa (as Tomoe Mari), Tony Cetera, Mikizo Hirata, Kazuko Inano, Sayoko Kato, Shigeo Kato, Akio Kusama, Shosei Muto, Goro Naya, Yuji Osugi, Kumeko Otowa, Kenpachiro Satsuma (as Kengo Nakayama), Kaori Taniguchi, Toshiko Yabuki, Mayako Yoshida
story by Ben Goto, screenplay by Yoshimitsu Banno, based on Les Siècles by Michel de Nostredame, music by Isao Tomita, special effects by Teruyoshi Nakano

Nostradamus

review by
Mike Haberfelner

The Nishiyama family has been obsessed with the writings of Nostradamus for generations, and while their interpretations of his writings were pretty accurate, they were usually either ridiculed - or executed for blasphemy. But now that the clock for mankind is ticking, Dr. Nishiyama (Tetsuro Tanba), last male heir of his line and head of the science council, sees it necessary to address the Japanese gouvernment to warn them about total disaster. And this is the starting point for a tale about the destruction of the enviroment, poisoning of our seas and our food, giant snails, hostile plants, humans rotting alive, over-population, suicide cults, mass starvation, stillbirths, mutations, revolutions, war, and ultimately a fully automatized nuclear war that doesn't even need humans to launch its missiles. And somehow, Dr. Nishiyama, his daughter Mari (Kaoru Yumi) and her boyfriend and Nishiyama's confidant journalist Akira (Toshio Kurosawa) seem to be on the forefront of it all. The film closes with Nishiyama back addressing the gouvernment, as everything we saw was just part of his elaboration, and with the Japanese Prime Minister (So Yamamura) giving a heartfelt speech reminding us of our own responsibility.

 

Now one thing's for sure, the film's message as such is nothing less than commendable, and even if it takes the prophecies of Nostradamus as its vehicle, many of the "threats" the film addresses were in fact very present in the 1970s, from growing enviromental concerns to an out-of-bounds arms race to mass starvations in Third World countries, and even the film's attempts to see the bigger picture and come to the right conclusions ring true most of the time. On the downside though, the film is very episodic, just seems to rush from disaster to disaster, and at times the inclusion of Nichiyama and company in all of them seems forced, and some of his warning monologues seem stilted, so if you're looking for utter narrative coherence let alone a comprehensible story arc, then this film under-delivers. But that said, some isolated scenes are just chilling, from an expedition to New Guinea where our heroes find the rotting yet still alive members from another expedition, to some of the mass suicide scenes. And dedicated audiences will no doubt love the many cool miniature effects and scenes of utter destruction. So in all, not a great film, and sometimes just too on-the-nose, but at least in parts very enjoyable nonetheless.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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written by
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