12 Monkeys is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée, starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt, with Christopher Plummer and David Morse in supporting roles.
Synopsis: In a future world devastated by disease, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet. (IMDB)
When I was young, I was fascinated by the very concept of time travel. My first encounter with the idea was watching George Pal’s 1960 film adaptation of H.G. Well’s scifi classic, The Time Machine (1895). I remember not sleeping very well that night as the fantastical elements of the story swirled up in my mind. (See clip below)
As I considered the topic a little more, I had imagined a story whereby a time traveler ended up in the past and was thrown into an asylum as his pronouncements about the future and his status would render him diagnosed as mentally insane. So imagine my delight when the early sequences of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys effectively visualized this grand concept of mine! (See clip below)
Instantly, I was hooked & the story got better and better as James Cole (Bruce Willis) would travel between his present and the past as Dr. Kathryn Railly (the lovely Madeline Stowe) attempted to make sense of Cole’s apocalyptic visions – first, as reluctant kidnap victim and finally, as committed partner and lover. Inspired by the 1962 French film La Jetée, written by David and Janet Peoples (scriptwriters of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner) and influenced by Philip K Dick’s surrealistic novels, 12 Monkeys is a tour-de-force scifi movie that explores well the themes of the subjective nature of memory and their effects on the perception of reality. And that ending is probably one of the best film denouements ever!
Now streaming on Netflix.
… still there’s more …