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Year: 1981
Director: Robert Guenette
Stars: Orson Welles, Philip L. Clarke, Jeane Dixon, Ray Laska, Bob Ruggiero, Roy Edmonds, Ray Chubb, Richard Butler, Jason Nesmith, Howard Ackerman, Brass Adams, Terry Clotiaux, David Burke, Bob Bigelow, Marji Martin, Thor Nielsen, Harry Bugin, Emile Hamaty
Genre: Documentary
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Orson Welles introduces us to one of the most controversial figures of history, Michel de Nostradamus, a sixteenth century monk who supposedly was able to predict the future. Even when he was alive he had a reputation for his ability to see forthcoming events, and since then that reputation has only grown. This film outlines the occasions where he has appeared to have got it right, as well as the predictions that have not come true - not yet, at any rate...

Throughout the nineteen-seventies there was a vogue for cheaply produced documentaries on a variety of paranormal subjects, and this was television producer David L. Wolper's attempt to cash in on that trend, a line that had very nearly drawn to an end by the time this film was released. Scripted by director Robert Guenette and Alan Hopgood with a cigar puffing (and puffing in general) Welles reading it out in his best "Could it really be true?" tones, the production took the form of stock footage mixed with dramatisations and was made with the true believer in mind.

Orson spends his whole time making pronouncements in an oak-panelled drawing room, but some of the footage is genuinely interesting, if familiar. However, to get there you have to sit through some very stagy reconstructions of Nostradamus' life, complete with the de rigueur shots of the seer seated at his desk, scribbling out quatrains by candlelight. There are only a couple of predictions that came true during his lifetime if this is to be believed - either that or the filmmakers were anxious to reach the twentieth century.

Before that, there is Herbert Lom in scenes from War and Peace as Napoleon, whose entire campaign history was foretold by our man, apparently. But it's the recent century we're interested in, as time and again important events have supposedly been written down in the fifteen-hundreds, including the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (the resulting conspiracy too) and Robert F. Kennedy. According to this film, Edward Kennedy was to be President in 1984; well, you can't win them all.

Of course, World War II was foreseen (World War I, maybe not), and the rise and fall of Adolf Hitler (named "Hister" in the quatrains), but did we really need reconstructions of some bloke with a little moustache marching around in black and white? Surely there's enough footage of the real thing to fill out their documentary? But what of World War III? Look out everybody, because it started in 1994! Perhaps not, but Nostradamus mentioned a warlord from the Middle East would kick things off, proving once again that the vaguer you are with you predictions, the more likely they are to be pinned down to specific events by your readers. The film ends with cheap-looking scenes of this twenty-seven year long conflict well underway, but don't worry, as there will be peace after that - until the world ends soon after the year 3000. Music by William Loose and Jack K. Tillar.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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