The mere appearance of the name, Nostradamus, in any form of media attracts an audience
of believers and the curious. I count myself among the curious. I'm a skeptic at
heart and personally find Nostradamus' prophecies to be vague, unproveable, and
wide open to interpretation. Still, I watch Nostradamus shows just hoping for that
one nugget of information that will "wow" me. Were there any "wow" moments in Nostradamus
Files? Actually yes there were, but not at his prophetic visionary prowess;
I was wowed by the man's life achievements.
The Nostradamus Files DVD set contains three 1½ hour documentaries. The first
documentary is entitled Lost Book of Nostradamus. This documentary explores
a series of prophetic drawings that were attributed to Nostradamus. The collection
contains 80 watercolor paintings that are highly derivative of tarot card images.
Most of the paintings focus on popes and the documentary spends a great deal of
time trying to decipher the meaning contained within these images.
The Lost Book of Nostradamus is easily the weakest documentary of the bunch.
It is completely unfocused, bouncing wildly between topics. This is purely an editing
issue because there is plenty of content available to divide the show into clear
subtopics. If each topic was handled at once, this documentary would have been easier
to follow and much better overall. Instead there are multiple threads interwoven
randomly throughout the documentary. These threads include Nostradamus' original
prophecies, Lost Book imagery interpretation, modern forensics examination of the
Lost Book, and Nostradamus' life history. In the director's attempt to set up an
unraveling mystery surrounding the authenticity of the Lost Book, the main points
of the documentary become obscured in a hodgepodge of quick cutting nonsense.
Around the one-hour-20-minute mark, a team of forensics experts reveals that none
of the handwriting in the Lost Book matches Nostradamus'. In fact, the ink used
on some of the pages was not even from his time period and the book's postscript
is dated 1629--over 60 years following Nostradamus' death. The only evidence that
Nostradamus authored this book is the appearance of his name on one of the pages
and a library covering note attributing the images to Nostradamus. In addition,
the documentary mentions that the art in the Lost Book was drawn by a trained artist.
Nostradamus' own artwork, however, was crude and untrained. After presenting overwhelming
evidence that Nostradamus did not author this book, the documentary speculates--without
a single shred of evidence--that the book was copied from an original Nostradamus
manuscript. The link between Nostradamus and the Lost Book is tenuous at best, making
this already mediocre documentary a waste of time.
The second documentary on the first disc is entitled Nostradamus: 500 Years Later.
This documentary is not even counted among the main features and is listed as a
"bonus special." Here's an existential question to ponder: is a full-length documentary
about Nostradamus, which is contained on a DVD collection of full-length documentaries
about Nostradamus, really considered an extra? I vote that it's a feature and I
will count it as a regular feature for this review. It's for the benefit of this
collection as this documentary is easily the best of the bunch.
500 Years Later is a levelheaded survey of the life of Nostradamus. In fact,
it's a fascinating study of man who was the equivalent of a bestselling author in
today's world. Did you know that Nostradamus also penned a popular book that gave
Renaissance women recipes for cosmetics such as perfume, hair dye, and toothpaste?
Neither did I. The documentary covers all of Nostradamus' popular prophecies and
attempts to link them to historical events. It also gives equal weight to skeptics
who aptly dispel the myth of his prophetic accuracy. Even more interestingly, the
documentary presents the life story of a truly incredible man. Nostradamus only
began writing prophecies and almanacs when he was in his 40's. Before he became
a prophet extraordinaire, Nostradamus was one of few plague doctors who would go
into infected cities to treat patients. The reenactments, the on-location videos
of his hometown, and the variety of interviewees are all excellent. This documentary
alone makes the set worth watching.
The third and final documentary is Nostradamus 2012, which explores how Nostradamus'
prophecies tie into other 2012 prophecies. This documentary stays on point and repeatedly
emphasizes the so-called galactic alignment--that is, when the Sun crosses the center
of the galaxy in the Earth's sky in 2012. This astrological event occurs every 26,000
years and is said to herald radical changes on our planet. This documentary's analysis
relies on Lost Book imagery, which is rather weak considering that the first documentary
in this set proved was not penned by Nostradamus at all. Despite that misstep, I
give this show full credit for focusing on future predictions and giving a specific
date--December 21, 2012.
One of the greatest criticisms of Nostradamus' prophecies is that his enthusiasts
wait until after a terrible tragedy occurs and then try to shoehorn those events
into a vague passage that could mean any number of things. If Nostradamus was so
accurate, why aren't we told what's going to happen before tragedy strikes? If Nostradamus
predicted 9/11, why didn't somebody point to one of his quatrains as a warning beforehand?
Nostradamus 2012 should be commended for doing that--to an extent. The documentary
also covers other 2012 predictions supposedly given by the Mayans, Hopi, and Free
Masons. It shows what kind of events we can expect to go down if various Nostradamus
experts are accurate in their interpretations of his quatrains. The show speculates
that some quatrains may point to the eruption of super-volcanoes, such as Yellowstone,
the weakening of the Earth's magnetic field, in addition to pole reversal, climate
change, and economic collapse. Unfortunately, at the end of the show, the experts
back away from the exact date of December 21, 2012 and state that in the future
we'll look back on that date as a turning point. And to think, we almost had them
nailed down to a specific!
Audio: The audio is presented in English 2.0 and is sufficient for the documentaries
presented in this set.
Video: Here is where this set really suffers. If you own any History Channel
DVD sets, such as
The Universe, you know that some of their widescreen DVD's are nonanamorphic.
For those of us with fancy, widescreen TV's, that means we get those beloved black
bars on all sides of the picture. Thankfully, at least Nostradamus: 500 Years Later
is in full-screen 1.33:1 format. The overall video across the three documentaries
is average and there are slight compression artifacts throughout.
Extras: The extras included are sets of additional scenes for both Lost Book
of Nostradamus and Nostradamus 2012.
- The Nostradamus 2012 scenes include 15 minutes of additional footage that
covers more information on topics such as the Egyptians, Galactic Alignment, Hopi
predictions, and Masons. The most interesting scene was the Egyptian segment which
examined a long lost zodiac symbol. The most bizarre was the Mason segment in which
an interviewee discussed how the Masons plotted the Revolutionary War.
- The Lost Book of Nostradamus features 10 minutes of additional footage including
segments on the Lost Book images, 9/11 Numerology, End of the World prophecies,
Nostradamus' study of astronomy, and the symbology of his art. The additional footage
adds nothing to the documentary. The 9/11 Numerology segment is dumb. There is no
reason for it, here or anywhere.
Final Thoughts: Nostradamus enthusiasts will probably love this set. Skeptics,
however, will find absolutely no evidence to transform them into believers. The Lost
Book of Nostradamus documentary is choppy and difficult to follow. The evidence
linking the Lost Book to Nostradamus is incredibly weak--I'd just skip that documentary
altogether. However, the other two documentaries, especially Nostradamus: 500 Years
Later, are good examinations of Nostradamus' life and speculations about
what the future may bring according to his writings. I, for one, can't wait until
December 22, 2012. We should all get together and throw an awesome party if we somehow manage to
survive the 21st! As for this set, Rent It.
Bobby is a programmer by trade and a wannabe writer. Check out his other reviews here. You can also check out his blog about harmless nonsense or follow him on Twitter