The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus) (1981)

TOMATOMETER

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus) Photos

Movie Info

The Man who Saw Tomorrow is none other than Michel de Nostradamus, the French doctor who lived in the 16th century but supposedly saw far ahead into the 20th century and beyond. This documentary is an attempt to bring home the interpretation of some of his predictions using historical footage, newsreels, interviews, and dramatized scenes. The film is narrated by Orson Welles -- shown sitting in a small, nondescript office, with the voice of Nostradamus provided by Philip L. Clarke. Predictions noted in the documentary include Napoleon's career, the coming of Hitler, and of Franco, and events across the sea: the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy, and a supposed nuclear attack on New York City in 1999, among other dire events. If equal time had been given to scholars to refute the glib interpretations by illustrating how abstruse and confusing the original 16th-century French quatrains really are, the documentary might have achieved more balance.
Rating:
PG
Genre:
Documentary , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Runtime:
Studio:
Warner Bros.

Cast

Philip L. Clarke
as Nostradamus
Orson Welles
as Narrator
Roy Edmonds
as French Soldier
Brass Adams
as The Grandfather
Marji Martin
as The Maid
Harry Bugin
as Warlord's Aide
Ross Evans
as The President
Paul Valentine
as The Secretary of State
Ray Chubb
as French Soldier
Richard Butler
as Nostradamus
David Burke
as The Friar
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus)

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Audience Reviews for The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (Nostradamus)

½

This was an effectively creepy movie, back when I was a kid. But that's the key: I was a kid. As I got older, I realized that Nostradamus's prophecies are merely ramblings that could be molded to fit whatever event or agenda the interpreter wants. Why call Hitler "Hister"? Isn't it kind of important to get the name right, for the man who started the deadliest war in human history? Regardless, the film has a creepy, if now antiquated and wrong, notion of where world history would go after 1980. And Orson Welles narration is unsettling.

Ryan Voss
Ryan Voss

I guess my view of the prophecies of Michel de Nostradamus - the 16th century French prophet who is said to have written down accurate predictions of at least 2000 years of forthcoming human events - holds about as much weight as for me as something like, say, The Da Vinci Code. There are a lot of holes in the Nostradamus' predictions so I tend to chalk it up as nothing more than an interesting curiosity. 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, while sitting in his secluded attic room in the 16th century 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. At least they're honest. 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 something called "quatrains', and hid 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. He predicted that a king would die in a jousting tournament by having his eye poked out. Later he was invited to the home of a dignitary where he accurately predicted which pig they would be eating for dinner. Yeah . . . okay. 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, color illustrations and cheap special effects shots from old science fiction movies. The only center of logic in this chaotic mess 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 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 also insists over and over that Nostadamus laid out a historical time line that 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 the year 3797. The Man Who Saw Tomorrow is nothing more than a curiosity. Any attempt to take it seriously 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 deserves. 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.

Jerry Roberts
Jerry Roberts

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