TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Reader Daniel on The Man Who Saw Tomorrow

i can see tomorrow

This isn’t technically about a movie. It’s about a documentary, which ran on Cinemax or HBO, called THE MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW. The documentary was narrated by ORSON WELLES, which is creepy enough.

It was about 1982, I was about 10 years old. I must have been at that very impressionable age, but this movie changed my life. The show started out saying that all Nostradamus’ prophecies had come true: He’d predicted Napoleon, the US revolutionary war, Lincoln’s assassination, Hitler and the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and the JFK assassination. So I had to believe that this guy was legit!

Then it began talking about what was going to happen in the future. One of the prophecies was that within the next 5 years, there would be a drought that would turn everything into sand and all the rivers would dry up. At the time I was living in the mountains of Idaho, surrounded by lush forests and rivers and streams. This guy was the real deal with prophecies, so it was going to happen! My beautiful forests were going to turn into sand dunes.

It caused SERIOUS psychological trauma! I looked around me and saw the world as it would be: cracked earth, dead fish, dead birds…no trees. Everyone would be dead, because you need water to live. The animals and trees would all die. My family and I were going to die too. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was torn apart by preemptive grief and loss. I was seriously depressed about it for a good 6 months.

Interesting thing: Right after we watched it, we switched over to MTV, which at the time played music videos. The song that was on was “Oh, Sherrie” by Journey [Editor’s Note: A solo Steve Perry was responsible for that chestnut]. That video was colored by it. The darkness of the video, the strangeness of the costumes…it added to the traumatic experience. We then watched THE DARK CRYSTAL which pretty much turned me into a gibbering wreck. I had to turn the channel. I can’t bear to watch THE DARK CRYSTAL to this day. Though I have forced myself to watch “Oh, Sherrie” a few times.

I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. Though logically now I understand that no drought occurred and no one died, I still have a feeling of loss and grief just thinking about it.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
14 years ago

awesome post! I thought “The Man who saw tommorow “was bad but then I saw “The Late Great Earth” which was so horrifying and creepy.Both of these should be on dvd.

unkle lancifer
14 years ago

I agree that this is an exceptional traumafession. It captures that moment in youth when we come to the awful realization that our safety is not forever assured. Plus it has the added curse of a soundtrack, now every time poor Daniel hears “Oh Sherrie” he has to be reminded of that awful day!…I know it’s not dvd quality but both MAN WHO SAW TOMORROW and LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH are currently available in segmented form on YouTube.