Nostradamus: His Life and Prophecies (2002) – DVD Review

Nostradamus: His Life and Prophecies DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Features:

  • “Prophecy and Prediction” documentary
  • Scene selection

Released by: Image
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Skip it.

Nostradamus may well be one of the more intriguing figures in European (or even world) history. An astronomer, mathematician, and prophet, his vague quatrains get trotted out every time a major world event occurs, as “proof” of his brilliant prophetic gift. Never mind that most of these “proofs” turn out to be complete fabrications, and not drawn from any of the man’s actual writing or, when they are from his works, are often clipped and spliced together to create a more convincing piece of evidence.

In Nostradamus: His Life and Prophecies, one might expect an exploration of the man’s origins, his education, and an overview of some of his more compelling prophetic predictions. Unfortunately, one would be disappointed. This documentary presents little more than vague trivial details of the actual life of Nostradamus, in favor of presenting example after example of his brilliance as a prophet, not once questioning whether or not his predictions had come true, or if mere coincidence had made it appear so. To present this piece as a documentary, yet keep it studiously devoid of any serious examination of his predictive “hits and misses,” seems a bit misleading, and a tad dishonest.

The bulk of the hour-long documentary is given over to reviewing the 20th century, and pointing out which of Nostradamus’ dozens of fragments might possibly have been referring to the events in question. In every case, the “proof” of his prediction is presented as a given, with little critical examination of the context of his works, or how much reaching was necessary on the part of interpreters to make the facts fit. The highlight comes with the story of graverobbers who dug the poor man up in 1791, only to discover a plaque clutched in his skeletal hands that had both the month and the year of his grave’s defilement stamped upon it.

Perhaps the most purely entertaining portion of the program is the laughable “look to the future,” where our guides through Nostradamus’ works informs us of all the advancements awaiting in the later half of the 90’s. According to their interpretation of the man’s predictions, by now we should have cured cancer, met an intelligent alien species, and been nearly destroyed by a massive global conflict involving nuclear weapons (or perhaps a crashing asteroid, there seemed to be some debate over this one).

Nostradamus 1791!

What saves this disc from being complete bollocks is the “bonus” documentary, which clocks in at nearly twice the length of the “feature” itself. Originally produced for Australian television, “Prophecy and Prediction” examines the phenomenon of prophecy, and its impact on society over the last few millenia. More academically sound, and significantly more interesting than Nostramus sycophancy, “Prophecy and Prediction” looks and feels more like an honest-to-goodness documentary. While connected to Nostradamus in only the most tangential sense, the program provides significantly more interesting information, and covers as much of the man’s bio in their five-minute blurb about him than the entire feature documentary presents in an hour.

The video quality is widely varied between the two programs. “Prophecy and Prediction” looks very crisp, like something one would catch on the History Channel or perhaps Discovery. The title program, however, is composed almost entirely out of grainy stock newsreel footage, with only a couple of minutes of “new” footage, all of which looks almost as bad as the decades-old newsreels. Audio is passable, but nothing more than what you get from watching cable TV (no spiffy audio tracks for all you stereo-heads, I’m afraid, but I don’t think a bad documentary sounds any better in surround-sound).

From Nostradamus: His Life and Prophecies

Overall, I’d sooner pick up a decent “Prophecy and Prediction” DVD that contained a bonus program on Nostradamus, than a bad Nostradamus documentary, with a “Prophecy and Prediction” bonus. Seems a classic case of the undercard upstaging the main event, but I guess by merely name-dropping the Big N, you can sell more discs.

From Nostradamus: His Life and Prophecies

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By | 2017-09-25T00:01:13+00:00 December 7th, 2003|Reviews|0 Comments

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