Review by Mark Wiechman

Stars: Phil Crowley, narrator
Director: Various
Audio: Dolby Stereo
Video: Color Full Screen
Studio: A&E Home Video
Features: See Review
Length:  9 hours, 24 minutes, three discs
Release Date: March 30, 2010


“Before you can qualify really to be the third anti-Christ, you have to have a big army, a big navy, an air force; you gotta have a lot of man power, and a lot of economic resources. So he [Saddam Hussein] didn’t qualify as the big bad wolf of the future.”  Victor Baines, president of Nostradamus Society of America.


Film ***


If you believe in anything, then naturally you have to also not believe in other things that contradict your beliefs.  So as a Christian, I do believe in certain prophecies and spiritual things, but I have to ignore certain other ones.  And within each established faith, there are differing factions, such as Roman Catholics and Protestants, Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox, and Shiite and Sunni Muslims.  Our search for truth and revelation is complex.  These faiths are old enough that we assume they have always been this way, and we are often not sure how to handle modern prophets and revelation.


So it is in this frame of mind that I watch the Nostradamus Effect:  Season One. It is impossible to ignore the effect of Nostradamus on culture, with many of his cryptic predictions seeming to be frighteningly accurate.  He believed in God and saw his prophecies as revelation just as the Old Testament prophets.  His believers see him as a man who tried to warn future generations in his four-lined “quatrains.”   Much like Darwin, he was a Christian who was later derided by the Church for blurring the line between science and faith.


He foresaw terrible happenings, including three Anti-Christs, each worse than the last. This is the subject of the first episode.  A prediction of more than one is unique and not found in any religions.  Some believe that two of them have already come, possibly Napoleon and Hitler, but that the third is still to come, or is already here.  His description of their actions, at least in retrospect, is incredibly prescient.  He speaks of the second anti-Christ as “Hister” who crosses the great rivers, and it is hard not to think he means Hitler, and he specifically mentions a German in his iron bunker. 


Another scary prediction was the “great force coming from the sky” in the seventh month 1999, which could be a “reverse” prophecy of 9111, or 9/11/01.  But September is not the seventh month anyway, and that’s a clever slight of hand to me, but maybe even prophets transpose numbers now and then.  Maybe he was dyslexic, but then shouldn’t he have predicted that too?


These specials are remarkably easy to watch, with commentary that is balanced between speculation and investigation, not requiring us to actually believe in any of it but presenting evidence in a way that cannot be easily dismissed, either.  But the frustrating part of many prophecies, including these, is that they are not clear until after the events have already happened.  You will have to sit through commentators who think that the end is near and that “no one will be able to help anyone” (that is an actual quote) but then others mention that “humanity will go on” since we have faced many other terrors.  The despair some express is odd since Nostradamus predicted the end of the world in 3797, so I don’t know why his modern followers would be concerned.


The programs move on to other controversies such as the third mystery revealed by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, the first two mysteries alluding to two world wars.  We also learn what Nostradamus said about the Rapture, the 2012 extinction, Satan’s army, DaVinci’s Armageddon, and other forebodings. 


As interesting as they are, I don’t recommend watching more than one at a time, since they are practically wall-to-wall doomsday predictions.  You would think Nostradamus could have foreseen something pleasant.  After all, Isaiah, Hosea, and John the Baptist had some good news for the future.  Nostradamus did predict the coming of the modern Jewish state, which could be a good thing, but to him this was a sign of the coming third anti-Christ.  Some people just always see the glass as half-empty, don’t they?


Video ***1/2


A&E continues to create well-produced specials that seamlessly weave modern and vintage video together.  I only subtracted half a star because the depictions of Nostradamus himself show an elderly bearded man who….well he just sits there and doesn’t look like much of a prophet to me! 


Audio ****


A great mix as usual from A&E, you could actually just listen to the programs with no video and still learn almost as much.  While the music score is somewhat stagnantly fatalistic, it does not go overboard in melodrama, and the recording of the narrators is crisp throughout.


Features *


The only special feature is “Strange Facts About Nostradamus” which is text.  Interestingly he predicted the end of the world in 3797, so I don’t know why some of these commentators think that the end is near.  One of his lesser known predictions did come true:  he greeted a young Franciscan monk herding sheep as “Your Holiness” and in 1585 that young man became Pope Sixtus V. 




Nostradamus does not appear to be mad or gleeful in his predictions of doom, but rather a man genuinely concerned about the future, and his attempts to warn us continue to fascinate.  After seeing Season One of this series, I am still skeptical, but I definitely understand why his writings are taken seriously, and look forward to more revelations about his revelations.

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