How Did The 1981 Nostradamus Film Do At Predicting The Future?

It's not unlikely that you've heard of Nostradamus, the 16th-century French astrologer, alchemist, philosopher, and jack-of-all-trades who, these days anyway, is mostly discussed in the same breath as Bigfoot, the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, and the like. That's because, for all of his contributions to science and history outside the cryptic and the weird, Michel de Nostradame is mostly known these days for his supposed prophetic predictions. As Sky History explains, those supposed predictions are contained within the text of hundreds of quatrains — four-stanza poems — that have supposedly predicted events throughout history, such as the Great Fire of London.

Back in 1981, Nostradamus was the subject of a movie, "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow," narrated and hosted by Orson Welles. While much of the film is dedicated to Nostradamian predictions that had supposedly come true by 1981, such as the French Revolution and the Holocaust, the film concluded with some supposed predictions that hadn't yet come true. The film presented those predictions as likely to come to pass in the years following the film's release, and in some cases even included specific dates.

So how many, if any, of Nostradamus' predictions actually came true? 

What The Film Got Wrong

Before getting into what Nostradamus and/or the film might have possibly  gotten right, let's look at what it got wrong (which is basically everything).

The film was released in 1981, during a time when the U.S. and the Soviets were in the middle of a nuclear arms race, with both nations pointing nuclear warheads at each other and the specter of nuclear war hanging over the entire world. Needless to say, the film wouldn't be complete without a prediction of a nuclear war, and it provided one. This sequence (available via YouTube) supposedly predicts a that World War III would start in 1994, and that a nuclear attack would occur in 1999. Neither of those things happened.

In another sequence, the show's producers posit that an ancient prediction meant Edward "Ted" Kennedy would become president of the United States. Obviously, he did not, and since he died 13 years ago, he is not going to, either. A terrible earthquake was also predicted for May 1988, which also didn't come to pass.

What The Film (Maybe) Got Right

In this sequence (available via YouTube), the film posits that Nostradamus predicted a "great worldwide drought and famine within the next decade." And the film predicted the famine for 1986, and tied it to the return of Halley's Comet.

In fact, there was indeed a terrible famine that took place not long after the film, although the prognostications got the dates entirely wrong. The Ethiopian Famine of the 1980s claimed at least one million lives, according to World Vision, and displaced millions more. However, the worst of the famine was in 1983-1984, and was actually winding down by 1986, instead of just getting started.

Nostradamus also (maybe) predicted at least one other famine, although whether it occurred or is yet to occur is uncertain. A 2021 Sky History report produced an ancient quatrain that supposedly predicts famine, and though it doesn't appear to mention dates, that particular report tied it to 2022. Of course, no famine has occurred in 2022 (yet), although inflation and food shortages have certainly been issues.