The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (1981)

Robert Guenette took his experience working for Sunn Classics and made this movie, which decimated my childhood with its airings on HBO. Seriously, even if I saw only a moment of movie, my nine-year-old self would have the worst anxiety you’ve ever felt.

Orson Welles hosted this, despite the fact that he didn’t really believe in the subject all that much. His main objection was his belief that Nostradamus’ work was never translated properly. That’s because his quatrains — Nostradamus broke his work into four lines at a time and then collected them into centuries, which were one hundred quatrains at a time — make it difficult to comprehend what he was really saying.

Adding to Welles’ theories, the political and religious issues of the psychic’s time made him hide his predictions in four different languages — Latin, French, Italian and Greek — and then coded messages and took them into anagrams.

After making the movie, Welles started publically making fun of it, even when he was on shows where he was supposed to sell the movie to audiences. Was he contractually obligated to make it? Or was Welles just the kind of person who didn’t care and the filmmakers figured people would come see the movie anyway?

The scariest part of the movie is all about the King of Terror, who was said to be the third of the Antichrists who would spread Islam, join with Russia and nuke New York City. Between this and finding random Jack Chick tracts and The Day After, let me tell you, if you think the 80’s were fun, you didn’t live in them.

In 1988, this movie found another life — after theaters and HBO — when it became a video rental hit in the wake of the California earthquakes. Roger Ebert said, “Sales clerks at the busy 20/20 Video Store on La Cienega Boulevard told me the tape is renting like crazy, and the overnight fee has been raised to $6, reflecting the demand. Spokesmen for Warner Bros Home Video confirm that “The Man Who Foretold the Future” has emerged as a surprise hit from their backlist.”

It found another life after that if you can believe it!

In 1991, a remake of the film aired on NBC with Charlton Heston redoing Welles’ narration, reading almost the same script. However, with it being only an hour long, they cut plenty out of the movie, as well as the implication that the third Antichrist was an Islamic leader. It’s implied that this person is really Sadaam Hussein. And to make it even weirder, the end of the world parts were deleted.

Wait! It also did the very same comeback after 9/11, when Blockbuster Video went nuts renting this movie. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, “Anika Lee, manager of a Blockbuster Video store in Chicago, reported several requests for The Man Who Saw Tomorrow, and said “[Customers] have been asking for that like crazy.””

Regardless, you really should watch it, if only to listen to one of the greatest geniuses of all time reduced to being in an exploitation documentary.

You can download this from the Internet Archive.

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