Prophecies of Nostradamus
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
|Prophecies of Nostradamus|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Toshio Masuda|
|Screenplay by||Toshio Yasumi|
|Based on||A novel|
by Tsutomu Goto
|Music by||Isao Tomita|
In 1853, Genta Nishiyama begins preaching the prophecies of Michel de Nostradame using a copy of his book, Centuries. When Nishiyama is executed by the Tokugawa Shogunate for supposed heresy (after discussing the arrival of "black ships" that will end Japan's long isolation), his wife and son flees with the book in hand, passing down the knowledge to future generations. At the onset of World War II, his descendant, Gengaku, is interrogated by an Imperial Japanese Army officer about the family's continued preaching of the prophecies, which predicted the rise of Nazism and the defeat of the Axis powers.
In the present day of 1999, biologist Dr. Ryogen Nishiyama is called in to analyze recent scientific phenomena, such as the appearance of giant mutant slugs, children wielding advanced abilities after drinking water near a zinc mine, and large ice packs just north of Hawaii. He is also a leading figure in the fight against environmental pollution, natural disasters, and the global arms race. The UN sends a research expedition to New Guinea to investigate a radioactive dust cloud that appeared over the island, but the team suddenly goes out of contact. Nishiyama joins a second team to find them and discover that the area around the team's last known position is now infested by mutant bats and leeches; one leech renders a team member unconscious and he later turns violently insane after the team sets up camp. He is sedated but is later feasted on by cannibals. The team fights off the cannibals and chases them to a cave where they find the remains of the original group, but are disheartened that some of them are barely alive; they are forced to kill and bury the survivors.
A SST jet explodes in the atmosphere over Japan, with the explosion puncturing the ozone layer and unleashing ultraviolet rays below. The polar icecaps melt, triggering massive floods in Japan. After more natural disasters hit the country, the civilian populace turns to looting as rationing takes effect. Society breaks down further, with several people committing suicide. The panic escalates until nuclear war breaks out, devastating humanity. Most of the survivors are left mutated, and fight each other for food among the ruins of civilisation.
It is revealed that the nuclear war is one of many nightmare scenarios Nishiyama is explaining before the Japanese Cabinet. As the prime minister explains a resolve to find a solution, Nishiyama, his daughter Mariko, and her boyfriend Akira (a globetrotting photographer) leave the Diet complex.
Prophecies of Nostradamus was released theatrically in Japan on 3 August 1974 where it was distributed by Toho. Toho released their 90-minute international version in the United States on 13 July 1979. It was later released to television by United Productions of America as The Last Days of Planet Earth with English dubbing. The television print runs 88 minutes in length.
Prophecies of Nostradamus is infamous for its depiction of mutated human beings. After the film was released, a protest group lodged a complaint with the Eirin (the Japanese film ratings board), citing the New Guinea sequence and the post-climactic scene featuring two mutants. Toho publicly apologized, and after briefly pulling the film from theaters, reissued it in December 1974 with 105 seconds of cuts to the two offending sequences. After its theatrical release and a 1980 television broadcast, the uncut version of the film was officially pulled from circulation by Toho. Plans were made to release the film, with the 105 seconds of edits, on VHS & Laserdisc in the spring of 1986, but were ultimately shelved; as such, the film has never seen an official home video release in Japan. While the original, unedited version has never been officially released anywhere since 1974, timecoded bootleg copies are in circulation. The 90-minute re-cut does occasionally make appearances in re-releases and it is this version which is on file at the Library of Congress.