Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974)
Prophecies of Nostradamus (ノストラダムスの大予言 is a Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen, lit. The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus)1974 tokusatsu film produced by Toho. Based on Tsutomu Goto's 1973 novel The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus, it was released to Japanese theaters on August 3, 1974. A heavily-edited version of the film entitled The Last Days of Planet Earth was syndicated in the United States beginning in 1981.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In the spring of 1853, schoolmaster Gentetsu Nishiyama begins preaching the prophecies of Michel de Nostredame using the book Centuries. Nishiyama is then executed by members of the Tokugawa Shogunate after discussing the arrival of mysterious black ships which will end Japan's long isolation. His wife and son escape with the book. At the onset of World War II, his descendant, Gengaku, is interrogated by an Imperial Army Officer for his continued preaching of the prophecies that predict the rise of fascism and formation of the Axis.
In 1999, Dr. Ryogen Nishiyama is discussing the use of chemicals which may assist crop yields across Japan. He is also arguing with local police about factory emissions. Later, in his home he receives threatening phone call about a similar matter. In a scientific meeting he discusses problems with the Minister of the Environment and other scientists which he says will affect the daily lives of the Japanese people. He participates in a Swiss conference about on how to deal with food shortages, overpopulation, and mysterious environmental events, such as large icebergs north of the Hawaiian islands. He discusses these matters in a ministerial meeting along with other mysterious happenings in Japan with the Prime Minister and other cabinet members. Meanwhile, the United Nations sends a scientific team to New Guinea to investigate and study radioactive dust clouds that have appeared there. When contact is lost with the team, Nishiyama joins a second mission to find and hopefully rescue the first team. They discover that the area where the first team was last seen is infested with mutated bats and radioactive leeches, which attack and knock one team member unconscious. A large group of cannibalistic natives attack the team, killing an unconscious member and scaring off the rest. While fleeing, they find the original team in a cave, barely alive. They are forced to mercy-kill the original team members, then bury all the dead.
After the events in New Guinea, an SST jet explodes in the atmosphere over Japan, puncturing the ozone layer and unleashing ultraviolet rays which cause massive floods throughout Japan and all over the world. These floods destroy the country's food production, leading the government to ration. Riots and looting begin spreading throughout Japan. Hundreds of youth commit suicide as society breaks down. The massive panic escalates into a local war and eventually a global nuclear conflict. Most of the survivors are rendered horribly disfigured and are left to fight over food among themselves.
Nishiyama then explains to the Japanese cabinet that these events may one day become a reality. The Prime Minister sends out a plea for assistance to set the country's troubled course on the right path so that future generations will be able to live and prosper. Afterwards Nishiyama, his daughter, and his photographer colleague Akira then leave the National Diet Building.
Staff[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Prophecies of Nostradamus/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Toshio Masuda
- Associate director Yoshimitsu Banno
- Written by Toshio Masuda, Yoshimitsu Banno
- Adapted from the screenplay of The Last War written by Toshio Yasumi
- Based on the novel Great Prophecies of Nostradamus by Tsutomu Goto
- Inspired by the writings of Michel de Nostredame
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Osamu Tanaka
- Music by Isao Tomita
- Cinematography by Rokuro Nishigaki, Kaoru Washio
- Edited by Nobuo Ogawa
- Production design by Yoshiro Muraki
- 1st assistant director Fumisuke Okada
- Director of special effects Teruyoshi Nakano
- 1st assistant director of special effects Koichi Kawakita
Cast[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
International English dub[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
American version[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Monsters[edit | edit source]
Weapons, vehicles, and races[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Prophecies of Nostradamus/Gallery.
Soundtrack[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Prophecies of Nostradamus (Soundtrack).
Production[edit | edit source]
Prophecies of Nostradamus was based on the first of ten books about Nostradamus by Tsutomu Goto. He first became interested in the physicist following the Apollo 11 moon landing, which Quatrain 9-85 appeared to have predicted. Published during the 1973 oil shock, Goto's novel The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus became a bestseller. Yoshimitsu Banno and Toshio Masuda wrote the script for Prophecies of Nostradamus from a Shibuya hotel in about ten days, though Masuda was not present for the full duration. Toshio Yasumi also received a story credit, though the credits do not clarify that it was for his work on the earlier 1961 movie The Last War, which also featured a nuclear war with a sick mother as an emotional anchor. Prophecies of Nostradamus also incorporates a significant amount of stock footage from The Last War.
As associate director, Banno was responsible for most of the New Guinea sequence. A Toho soundstage was damaged in a fire caused by one of the special effects scenes, with the ruined props including the original Moguera suit.
Alternate titles[edit | edit source]
- The Great Prophecies of Nostradamus (literal Japanese title)
- Catastrophe 1999 (original English title)
- The Last Days of Planet Earth (United States)
- Nostradamus' End of the World: 2000 (Fin Du Monde Nostradamus - An 2000; France)
- Catastrophe (Catastrofe; Italy)
- The Prophecy of Nostradamus World Disaster in 1999? (Die Prophezeiung des Nostradamus Weltkatastrophe 1999?; West Germany)
- The End of the World: The Prophecies of Nostradamus Fulfilled! (El Fin del Mundo ¡Las Profecías de Nostradamus se Cumplen!; Mexico)
- The End of the World According to Nostradamus (O Fim do Mundo Segundo Nostradamus; Brazil)
- Catastrophe - Prophecies of Nostradamus (Catástrofe - Profecias de Nostradamus; Brazilian video title)
- The Last Days of the World (Verdens Sidste Dage; Denmark)
Theatrical releases[edit | edit source]
- Japan - August 3, 1974 [view poster]
- France - September 25, 1974 [view poster]
- West Germany - May 22, 1975 [view poster]
- Brazil - September 29, 1975 [view poster]
- Mexico [view poster]
Foreign releases[edit | edit source]
Toho's export version of the film, subsequently dubbed into English in Hong Kong, reduced the film's runtime to 89 minutes. This version was released on VHS in Denmark by Panorama Video under the title Verdens Sidste Dage.
The many alterations made to the film include:
- The pre-title sequence, set in 1853 and during World War II, which establishes the persecution of the Nishiyama family for its belief in Nostradamus' prophecies, is removed.
- The Nishiyama family's dinner with Akira is much longer in the Japanese version. The deleted portions of this sequence include further discussion of the famine in Africa and of harmful chemical preservatives in Japan's food supply, which Dr. Nishiyama states was warned of in Nostradamus' prophecies. He also asks Mariko and Akira to consider settling down together and starting a family. Meanwhile, Nobue takes a phone call off-screen; when she returns, it's revealed that yakuza, associated with the factory Dr. Nishiyama had been investigating, have been making threats against his family.
- The export version entirely deletes a minor subplot involving Kida, one of Dr. Nishiyama's associates, whose daughter is expecting a baby. The child dies at birth, succumbing to severe genetic defects caused by pollution. Nishiyama goes to the hospital to pay his respects to the family, which prompts an emotional outburst from Kida.
- Also at the hospital, in another scene deleted for the export version, Nishiyama is introduced to a family with a young daughter suffering from the pollution-related illness. A followup scene, in which Nishiyama convinces the family to move to the country, and in which he receives another call from the yakuza, is likewise deleted.
- The sequence depicting the "Nature, Mankind, and the Future" panel is trimmed to remove a comment from a concerned woman, as well as Nishiyama's rebuttal.
- A montage juxtaposing strange events with everyday life in Shikoku is removed.
- The scene where Nobue dies is extensively trimmed, removing much of her last conversation with her husband.
- The export version removes the Prime Minister's stirring plea to Japan to reverse course before it's too late to save the world. It instead cuts from Nishiyama sitting down following his speech to the final exterior shot of the National Diet Building.
The controversial shots that had been deleted for later Japanese theatrical exhibitions were dubbed into English and are present in the export version.
U.S. release[edit | edit source]
In 1980, UPA acquired the rights to distribute the film on home video and television. Although primarily based on Toho's export version, UPA's cut, titled The Last Days of Planet Earth, removes some footage from that version while also adding back in several shots from the Japanese release version. The Last Days of Planet Earth was released on VHS and LaserDisc in 1995 through Paramount. This remains the only legitimate release of the film in the United States.
UPA made the following changes to its version of the film:
- The voice of Nostradamus' prophecies heard in the export version was removed from various points in the film in favor of new narration. Some scenes which originally played with the prophetic narration are now silent, and vice versa.
- Part of the Japanese version's prologue has been reinstated, now rearranged to focus on Nostradamus' predictions instead of the Nishiyama family's history. A closeup of Gengaku Nishiyama is apparently supposed to represent Nostradamus.
- Some of the documentary footage of the People's Republic of China, originally under the opening credits, was moved to the new prologue sequence. UPA added stock footage from World War II to pad out its prologue.
- UPA filmed a new insert shot of the Giberellon growth diagram.
- In the same scene, footage in Dr. Nishiyama's lab has been shuffled to delete the line "It would mean the genocide of the entire Japanese people."
- Mariko's and Akira's reunion at the former's ballet class has been deleted. Some shots of the ballet students would be recycled at this version's concluding montage.
- As Akira discusses the suffering he witnessed in his trip to Africa, UPA deletes footage showing severely malnutritioned African natives.
- UPA's version cuts several expository shots of Japanese signs.
- During dinner, Mariko's quip that Akira is "as hungry as a starving African" was removed.
- The love-making scene between Akira and Mariko is mostly left intact, save for cropping to prevent showing Mariko's nipple. A short exchange of dialogue at the end of this scene was trimmed and replaced with a recycled shot of the ocean.
- Three shots from the subplot involving Kida's ill-fated grandchild, which had been cut from the export version, is reinstated in this version, albeit presented without context. As these scenes hadn't been dubbed, only shots originally without (or with minimal) dialogue are used. A Nishiyama line from the previous scene has been recycled here, as if the audience is hearing his thoughts.
- In line with the aforementioned deleted Japanese signage, UPA's version deletes several expository shots of newspaper headlines. In the place of the headline announcing the New Guinea expedition is newly-shot footage of an electric typewriter printing a press release.
- Before leaving for New Guinea, Nishiyama asks Ihara to lend Oone his lighter, as Oone can't get his to work. UPA's version deletes some dialogue in this bit and instead repeats the shot of Oone fumbling with his lighter.
- The montage of events occurring in Shikoku, deleted in the export version, was reinstated by UPA. Two folk songs heard in this sequence are left in Japanese.
- UPA deleted a shot of one of the dead giant bats.
- In the medical tent in New Guinea, Nishiyama examines a lighter that Akira had found. As a flashback, UPA reinserts the shot of Oone failing to light his cigarette and Nishiyama's line, "Fire is most important in the jungle," before cutting back to the New Guinea sequence.
- The lead up to the natives' attack is toned down in UPA's version, with less footage of the party members arming themselves and inspecting the perimeter of camp. Likewise, UPA cut the entire controversial sequence in the tent in which two mutated natives cannibalize Frank.
- Beginning with the shot of the natives leaping out of trees at the research expedition, UPA mirrors the image along its vertical axis. The film remains mirrored for roughly fifteen minutes in UPA's version before returning to the footage's normal orientation.
- A gruesome shot of flesh sliding off the arm of one of the zombified research party members is deleted.
- During a press conference, Nishiyama receives a call about his wife's worsened condition. In the Japanese and export versions, it's unclear until the end of the scene that it had been Mariko on the other line. Because of an error in the dubbed dialogue, however, the export version makes it at first seem that Nishiyama is speaking to someone else. UPA's version fixes this by shuffling some of the footage to include a shot of Mariko on the phone during the call and deleting the line in which Nishiyama refers to Mariko's mother as "his wife." The concluding shot of Mariko in this scene ends the long sequence of mirrored footage.
- UPA deleted a shot of a young boy standing naked and unattended in a public fountain, occurring in the background of a shot of hippies doing drugs. Inserted in its place are two incongruous shots of the freeway on fire, recycled from an earlier sequence.
- The "regatta of death" scene is reworked to remove a few shots of Japanese language printed on flags. Additionally, a radio broadcast of this event, as heard in the export version, has been replaced with a new broadcast recorded specifically for the US version.
- Nobue's final moments are further reworked from the export version. UPA deleted Nishiyama's line, "Are you any better?" The scene now ends before Akira enters.
- Footage is once again flipped, this time for roughly three and a half minutes, beginning with Nobue's final scene and ending on a shot of the rioters pointing up at the city's reflection in the sky.
- One scene of the lead rioter urging the others to storm the food storage facility is re-dubbed in UPA's version to avoid using narration from the export version.
- UPA trimmed the scene in which Mariko tells Akira she's pregnant, ending as he chases after her.
- During the speculative end of the world scenario sequence, UPA cut a series of shots depicting nuclear missiles launched from an already-annihilated base.
- A shot of a soft-bodied human biting into a snake is removed.
- Following Nishiyama's speech, UPA inserted a montage during which the narrator covers much of the same material as the Prime Minister's speech in the Japanese version. Footage juxtaposing peaceful life in Japan, sourced from various scenes mostly from Japanese version of the film, is juxtaposed with footage of disaster and destruction, some of which had already been used in the film.
- The final shot in UPA's version is of a mushroom cloud, recycled from the "end of the world" scenario, whereas both Toho versions end on the shot of Nishiyama, Mariko, and Akira walking away from the Diet Building.
Unmade sequel[edit | edit source]
Tomoyuki Tanaka proposed a sequel for the film in 1974, the year of the film's theatrical premiere, aimed for a 1975 release. The proposed sequel was tentatively titled Prophecies of Nostradamus II: The Great King of Terror (ノストラダムスの大予言ＩＩ 恐怖の大魔王, and would follow the character Tsutomu Goto (named after the author of the novel upon which the first film was based) as he attempts to contact the spirit of Michel de Nostredame in order to avert the impending end of the world. Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen Tsū Kyōfu no Dai Maō)
Videos[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- While the film was still in release, various anti-nuclear and atomic bomb survivor advocate groups filed a complaint to the Eirin Board, which was in charge of censoring films in Japan. They protested that the scenes depicting the mutant humans created by nuclear fallout were offensive towards survivors of the atomic bombs. In response, Toho removed several minutes of footage from the film and added dialogue to humanize the mutants. Following a 1980 Japanese television broadcast of the uncut version, Toho placed the film under a self-imposed studio ban.
- On July 25, 1974, Fuji TV aired an hour-long special about the film during their "Thursday Report" block, entitled (Secret) Prophecies of Nostradamus (㊙ノストラダムスの大予言. It featured several prophets and experts on meteorology and food ecology giving their respective takes on the 1999 apocalypse Nostradamus predicted. Performers Hiroshi Itsuki, Shizue Abe and Linda Yamamoto appeared in the special, as well as the film's stars, Tetsuro Tanba, Yoko Tsukasa, Toshio Kurosawa and Yumi Kaoru. Hi Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen)
- This film depicts the destruction of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was the site of a real-life nuclear disaster following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
- Many special effect shots from the finale of The Last War are used for scenes showing the nuclear war at the film's climax.
- The film's Italian poster, as well as its opening credits, list several actors who do not appear in any version of the movie. These same mysterious actors are also credited in the French opening credits.
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References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for Prophecies of Nostradamus. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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