“Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen (Prophecies of Nostradamus)” – Pushing the boundaries of disaster movies

In the next of my posts about movies which I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, I am writing about Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen (ノストラダムスの大予言) (Toshio Masuda, 1974) known as Prophecies of Nostradamus in English. This is one of the many disaster movies that came out from Toho Studies in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s (see also Fukkatsu no Hi, Jishin Rettō, Nihon Chinbotsu, Sekai Daisensō, Shuto Shōshitsu).

A summary about the movie on IMDb is as follows.

Professor Nishiyama, after studying and interpreting the prophecies of Nostradamus, realizes that the end of the world is at hand. Unfortunately, nobody listens to him until it is too late. As the effects of mankind’s tampering of the earth – radioactive smog clouds, hideously mutated animals, destruction of the ozone layer – rage out of control, the world leaders hurtle blindly toward the final confrontation


As with so many of the disaster movies that I studied (and some which were ultimately not included in the study) this one is classified as ‘science fiction’ by IMDb, but using the definition of science fiction that I used for the article this movie remained (just) within the study.

Looking at the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the movie has 14 out of 17. There is no particular distancing in time in the movie – adding to the impact of the movie for those who went to see it at the cinema perhaps, but undermining its longer term impact. The movie also shows its age in terms of effects watching it nearly 50 years on, but you it’s easy to imagine that in the days before CGI this would have been very impressive on the big screen.

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