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Film / Prophecies of Nostradamus

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The splendor of beautiful maidens, will never be brilliant again
The hair and the skin will be slowly peeled off
People will go insane, and monsters will stalk the earth...
Final prophecy, international version

Prophecies of Nostradamus is a 1974 Japanese science fiction Disaster Movie produced by Toho Co., Ltd., directed by Toshio Masuda, with special effects supervised by Teruyoshi Nakano. The film stars Tetsuro Tamba as Dr. Nishiyama, a scientist whose family has passed down the prophecies of Nostradamus in Japan for generations. In the main narrative, in the years leading up to 1999, innumerable ecological disasters and famines run rampant, before culminating in the destruction of most life itself from a great, final nuclear war. The film also presents a view of the social implications that would arise during such catastrophes. The film has gained a reputable cult status after Toho placed a permanent self-enforced ban on the film after multiple complaints from nuclear disease activists (including outright offending the survivors Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) for its portrayal of irradiated humans as mindless monsters all but ensuring it'll never be released again, making this one of the most sought-after films of Toho's library next to Submersion of Japan note  which was released the previous year.

Was released to U.S. television by UPA in the mid-80s as The Last Days of Planet Earth, a rather messy re-edit of the film that dulled a lot of elements while painting itself as some sort of Nostradamus themed pseudo-documentary.

This film contains examples of the following:

  • After the End: The controversial scene with the mutant scavengers.
  • All Just a Dream: The final scene reveals the nuclear apocalypse to be one of several doomsday scenarios being proposed by Nishiyama before the Japanese Cabinet.
  • Apocalypse How: Of the class 3a variety, backed by class 0s up to the final nuclear war. Or it would have been that way, had the whole thing not turned out to be All Just a Dream.
  • Artistic License – Space: The ozone layer can only develop holes in the Arctic regions, and that would happen over months or years, not instantly. Many SSTs blowing up at the same time would never cause ozone depletion over the skies of the Pacific (or anywhere but the poles) to the extent that can cause instant third-degree burns or spontaneous combustion.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Even though Nobuo Nishiyama is dying, she can tell daughter Mariko is pregnant, even before Mariko herself knows.
  • Bowdlerise: The film was cut down from 114 to 90 minutes after complaints about the disturbing depictions of radiation survivors and human mutations arose. Like Half Human and Varan (the latter of which was later unbanned), the film was shelved by Toho themselves in 1980 and has remained unreleased on video in Japan, although they did get real close in 1988, when a screener of the uncut version was leaked.

  • Convenient Miscarriage: Mr. Kiba's twin grandchildren, one stillborn, another one so grotesque it's euthanized after his horrified wife first saw it.
  • Creepy Monotone: The prophecies are re-told in voice-over by Kyoko Kishida.
  • Driven to Suicide: The youth of Japan.
  • Dub-Induced Plotline Change: The Last Days of Planet Earth adds new narration over all of the prophecies and several monologue scenes, while cutting the already cut export version to about 72 minutes, while adding more footage from the uncut 114 minute version. The ending is also reedited significantly, with a laughable montage of alternately "good" and "bad" things augmented by the new narration.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The highway traffic jam explosion sequence, which was reused in Deathquake and The Return of Godzilla.
  • Gaia's Lament: The Earth became dry and barren After the End.
  • Green Aesop: The film presents a grim outlook on humanity, but still reminds how the choices we make determine the future.
  • Heroic BSoD: Dr. Nishiyama, after his wife dies. Notice he reacts to the weird skyline with Dull Surprise.
  • Identical Grandson: Dr. Nishiyama is the latest in a family line of Nostradamus scholars dating back to the 18th Century, all treated like Ignored Experts, all (two ancestors and the good doctor) played by Tetsuro Tanba.
  • Ignored Expert: Dr. Nishiyama and his ancestors. While the Japanese cabinet eventually realizes the truth of his statements (it's already too late), he is initially ridiculed by many authority figures as a sensationalist.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dr. Nishiyama is a loyal friend, good boss, a competent pediatrician with an easygoing bedside manner, great family man, and a sensitive human being. When debating bureaucrats and experts, he's angry, abrasive and a bit antagonistic, though.
  • Mercy Kill: The fate of the first research party. And earlier, one of Mr. Kiba's mutated grandchildren.
  • Monochrome Past: The opening credits, before a gradual fade to color on the first shot of the Gibberellin scene.
  • The Pollyanna: Mariko is a downplayed example.
  • Progressive Era Montage: The opening credits depict major world events up to 1974 following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Recut: There are two separate "official" cut versions: The aforementioned theatrical recut (which exists on film at the Library of Congress of all places), and the dubbed English export version, which was used as the basis for most international versions. The theatrical recut edits out most of the controversial elements, while the international version shaves a lot of the heavier drama and drops out most of the subplot involving Nishiyama's ancestry and heritage, cutting the pre-credit prologue scenes set in 1835 and World War II entirely, while retaining most of the graphic and exploitative elements.
  • Radiation-Immune Mutants: The much of the wildlife and cannibalistic natives in the New Guinea expedition scenes. Also the mutants in the post-apocalyptic scene.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The ending reduces the narrative to this.
  • Signs of the End Times: During the food rioting, people panic when the sky turns green and reflects the land below. Dr. Nishiyama explains that the industrial smog has changed the solar spectrum, causing the atmosphere to act like a giant mirror.
  • Stock Footage: Much of the climactic nuclear war footage is recycled from the earlier Toho production The Last War.
  • Take That!: Nostradamus mocks those who mourned JFK.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The food rioters.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Nobuo Nishiyama, Dr. Ryougen Nishiyama's wife.