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12 Monkeys
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Produced by Charles Roven
Written by Screenplay:
David Peoples
Janet Peoples
Inspired by La Jetée:
Chris Marker
Starring Bruce Willis
Madeleine Stowe
Brad Pitt
Christopher Plummer
Music by Paul Buckmaster
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Editing by Mick Audsley
Studio Universal Pictures
Atlas Entertainment
Classico
Distributed by North America:
Universal Pictures
Foreign:
United International Pictures
UK:
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Release date(s) United States:
December 29, 1995 (limited)
January 5, 1996 (wide)
Australia:
March 14, 1996
United Kingdom:
April 19, 1996
New Zealand:
May 10, 1996
Running time 130 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $29.5 million
Gross revenue $168.84 million

12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by the French short film La Jetée (1962), and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer. The film depicts the world in 2035 as devastated by disease, forcing the human population to live underground. Convict James Cole (Willis) "volunteers" for time travel duty to gather information in exchange for prison release. When he first arrives in the past, Cole is arrested and locked up in a psychiatric hospital, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly (Stowe), a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines (Pitt), the insane son of a world-renowned virologist.

After Universal Studios acquired the rights to remake La Jetée as a full-length film, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script. Under Terry Gilliam's direction, Universal granted the filmmakers a $29.5 million budget, and filming lasted from February to May 1995. The film was shot mostly in Philadelphia and Baltimore, where the story was set.

The film was released to critical praise and grossed approximately $168 million worldwide. Brad Pitt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also won and was nominated for various categories at the Saturn Awards.

Contents

Plot

James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a convicted criminal who is troubled with recurring dreams involving a chase and shooting in an airport and who lives in a grim post-apocalyptic future. In 1996-1997, the Earth's surface was contaminated by a virus so deadly that it forced the surviving population underground. To earn a commutation of his sentence, Cole allows a team of scientists to send him on a series of dangerous missions to the past to collect information about the virus, which is believed to have been released by a terrorist organization known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. Cole is tasked with trying to obtain a pure sample of the original virus so that a vaccine can be made from it.

During his first mission to the past, Cole arrives in Baltimore in 1990, not 1996 as planned. He is arrested and hospitalized in a mental institution on the diagnosis of Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). There he encounters Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), a fellow mental patient with animal rights and anti-consumerist leanings. Cole tries unsuccessfully to leave a voice mail on a number monitored by the scientists in the future. After a failed escape attempt, Cole is restrained and locked in a cell, but then disappears, returning to the future.

Back in the future, Cole is interviewed by the scientists, who play a distorted voice mail message which gives the location of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and states that they are responsible for the virus. Cole is also shown photos of numerous people, including Goines.

For his second mission, the scientists attempt to send Cole back to 1996, but he again gets detoured and ends up in the middle of a battle in WWI. While there, Cole sees Jose (Jon Seda), a fellow time traveler from the future who has also been lost in time. Cole is then shot in the leg by suspicious French soldiers.

After somehow making it to 1996, Cole sees Railly speak at a lecture on apocalyptic visions, kidnaps her after the lecture, and sets out with her in search of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. Cole locates the headquarters of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and learns what Goines has been doing since 1990. Cole and Railly then set out to find Goines, who has since gone to work for his father, a prominent virologist. When confronted, Goines denies any involvement with the virus and suggests that wiping out humanity was Cole's idea, originally broached at the asylum in 1990. After escaping from Goines' house, Cole vanishes just as the police approach.

After being interviewed by the police about her kidnapping, Railly begins to doubt her diagnosis of Cole when she finds multiple pieces of evidence that suggest that he was telling the truth. Meanwhile, back in the future Cole begins to believe that his experiences in the future are hallucinations. He then persuades the scientists to send him on a third mission to 1996 to try to prevent the release of the virus.

Railly attempts to confront Goines and the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, but they hide from her inside a building and work on their plans while she spray paints a message on the exterior of the building. Railly then sees a disoriented Cole, who has returned from the future, walking toward her though a crowd. Railly and Cole escape from police, who are searching for Cole, and check into a hotel. After a violent confrontation with a pimp, Railly attempts to settle the question of Cole's sanity by leaving a message on a voice mail number he provides, creating the message the scientists play for Cole prior to his second mission. Cole and Railly then come to realize that the coming plague, if is indeed going to happen, is inevitable and make plans to enjoy the time they have left by going to Key West, Florida.

On their way to the airport, Cole and Railly learn that the Army of the Twelve Monkeys lead was a red herring; they merely delayed traffic by releasing all the animals in the zoo. At the airport, Cole leaves a last voice mail message for the scientists telling them that they are on the wrong track and that he will not return to the future. He is then confronted by Jose, who gives Cole a handgun and orders him to complete his mission. At the same time, Railly spots the true culprit behind the virus: Dr. Peters (David Morse), an assistant at Goines' father's virology lab who she previously encountered at a lecture and who she knows to be obsessed with the apocalypse. Peters is about to embark on a tour of a large number of cities around the world, a tour which matches the sequence (memorized by Cole) of the viral outbreaks. Cole, while fighting through security, is fatally shot as he tries to stop Peters. After Cole dies in Railly's arms, she locates and makes eye contact with a small boy who is the young James Cole witnessing his own death, the scene that will replay in his dreams for years to come. Dr. Peters, safely aboard his plane, sits down next to Jones (Carol Florence), one of the scientists from the future, who introduces herself as an insurance agent, suggesting that there is hope for the future of humanity.

Cast

Production

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Development

The genesis of 12 Monkeys came from executive producer Robert Kosberg, who had been a fan of the French short film La Jetée (1962). Kosberg persuaded the film's director, Chris Marker, to let him pitch the project to Universal Pictures, seeing it as a perfect basis for a full-length science fiction film. Universal reluctantly agreed to purchase the remake rights and hired David and Janet Peoples to write the screenplay.[1] Producer Charles Roven chose Terry Gilliam to direct because he believed the filmmaker's style was perfect for 12 Monkeys's nonlinear storyline and time travel subplot.[2] Gilliam had just abandoned a film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities when he signed to direct 12 Monkeys.[3] The film also represents the second film for which Gilliam did not write or co-write the screenplay. Although he prefers to direct his own scripts, he was captivated by the Peoples' "intriguing and intelligent script. The story is disconcerting. It deals with time, madness and a perception of what the world is or isn't. It is a study of madness and dreams, of death and re-birth, set in a world coming apart."[2]

Universal took longer than expected to green-light 12 Monkeys, although Gilliam had two stars (Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt) and a firm budget of $29.5 million (low for a Hollywood science fiction film). Universal's production of Waterworld (1995) had resulted in various cost overruns. To get 12 Monkeys greenlighted, Gilliam convinced Willis to lower his normal asking price.[4] Because of Universal's strict production incentives and his previous history with the studio on Brazil (1985), Gilliam received the right of final cut privilege.[5] The Writers Guild of America was also skeptical of the "inspired by" credit for La Jetée and Chris Marker.[6]

Casting

Gilliam's initial casting choices were Nick Nolte as James Cole and Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Goines, but Universal objected.[3] Gilliam, who first met Bruce Willis while casting Jeff Bridges' role in The Fisher King (1991), believed Willis evoked Cole's characterization as being "somebody who is strong and dangerous but also vulnerable."[2]

Gilliam cast Madeleine Stowe as Dr. Kathryn Railly because he was impressed by her performance in Blink (1994).[2] The director first met Stowe when he was casting his abandoned film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.[3] "She has this incredible ethereal beauty and she's incredibly intelligent," Gilliam reasoned. "Those two things rest very easily with her, and the film needed those elements because it has to be romantic."[2]

Gilliam originally believed that Brad Pitt was not right for the role of Jeffrey Goines, but the casting director convinced him otherwise.[3] Pitt was cast for a relatively small salary, when he was still an "up and coming" actor. By the time of 12 Monkeys' release, however, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), Legends of the Fall (1994), and Seven (1995) had been released, making Pitt an A-list actor, which drew greater attention to the film and boosted its box-office standing.[5] In Philadelphia, months before filming, Pitt spent weeks at Temple University's hospital, visiting and studying the psychiatric ward to prepare for his role.[2]

Filming

Filming for 12 Monkeys lasted from February 8, 1995 to May 6, 1995. Shooting on location in Philadelphia and Baltimore (including the Senator Theatre)[7][8] in the winter time was fraught with weather problems. There were also technical glitches with the futuristic mechanical props. Because the film has a nonlinear storyline, continuity errors occurred and some scenes had to be reshot. Gilliam also injured himself when he went horseback riding. Despite setbacks, however, the director managed to stay within the budget and was only a week behind his shooting schedule. "It was a tough shoot," acknowledged Jeffrey Beecroft (Mr. Brooks, Dances with Wolves), the production designer. "There wasn't a lot of money or enough time. Terry is a perfectionist, but he was really adamant about not going over budget. He got crucified for Munchausen, and that still haunts him."[7]

The filmmakers were not allowed the luxury of sound stages, thus they had to find abandoned buildings or landmarks in Philadelphia to use.[6] The exterior shots of the climactic airport scene were conducted at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, while the Pennsylvania Convention Center at Reading Terminal housed interior scenes. Filming at the psychiatric hospital was done at the Eastern State Penitentiary.[9]

Design

Gilliam undertook the same filmmaking style from his own Brazil (1985), including the art direction and cinematography (specifically using fresnel lenses).[4] The interrogation room where Cole is being interviewed by the scientists was based on the work of Lebbeus Woods; these scenes were shot at three different power stations (two in Philadelphia and one in Baltimore). Gilliam intended to show Cole being interviewed through a multi-screen interrogation TV set because he felt the machinery evoked a "nightmarish intervention of technology. You try to see the faces on the screens in front of you, but the real faces and voices are down there and you have these tiny voices in your ear. To me that's the world we live in, the way we communicate these days, through technical devices that pretend to be about communication but may not be."[10]

The art department made sure that the 2035 underground world would only use pre-1996 technology as a means to depict the bleak future.[5] To create the majority of visual effects sequences, Gilliam awarded the shots to Peerless Camera, the London-based effects studio he founded in the late-1970s with visual effects supervisor Kent Houston (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale). Additional digital compositing was done by The Mill, while Cinesite worked on film scanning services.[2]

Themes

Memory, time and technology

"Cole has been thrust from another world into ours and he's confronted by the confusion we live in, which most people somehow accept as normal. So he appears abnormal, and what's happening around him seems random and weird. Is he mad or are we?"
— Director Terry Gilliam[4]

12 Monkeys studies the subjective nature of memories and their effect upon perceptions of reality. Examples of false memories include:[6]

  • Cole's recollection of the airport shooting which is altered each time he has a dream.
  • A "mentally divergent" man at the asylum who has false memories.
  • Railly telling Cole "I remember you like this" when a barely recognizable Cole and Railly are seen in disguise for the first time.

References to time, time travel and monkeys are scattered throughout the film, including the Woody Woodpecker "Time Tunnel" cartoon playing on the TV in a hotel room, The Marx Brothers movie Monkey Business (1931) on TV in the asylum and the subplots of monkeys (drug testing, news stories and animal rights). The film is also a study of modern civilization's declining efforts to communicate with each other due to the interference of technology.[6]

Cinematic allusions

12 Monkeys is inspired by the French short film La Jetée (1962), notably the story of both protagonists being haunted by the image of their own death. The climaxes for both films also take place in an airport.[9]

Similar to La Jetée, 12 Monkeys also presents Hitchcockian elements and references to Alfred Hitchcock's own Vertigo (1958). Toward the end of the film, Cole and Railly hide in a theater showing a 24 hour Hitchcock marathon and watch a scene of Vertigo. Railly then transforms herself with a blonde wig, as Judy (Kim Novak) transformed herself into blonde Madeleine in Vertigo; James sees her emerge within a red light, as Scottie (James Stewart) saw Judy emerge within a green light.[9] Brief notes of Bernard Herrmann's 1958 film score can also be heard. Railly also wears the same coat Novak wore in the first part of Vertigo. The scene at Muir Woods National Monument, where Judy (posing as Madeleine) looks at the growth rings of a felled redwood and traces back events in her past life, resonates with 12 Monkeys' larger themes. Cole and Railly later have a similar conversation while the same music from Vertigo is repeated.[9] Further on in the film, Cole wakes up in a hospital bed with scientists of the future talking to him in chorus. This is a direct homage to the "Dry Bones" scene in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective.[11]

Reception

Release

12 Monkeys was given a limited release in the United States on December 29, 1995. When the 1,629 theater wide release came on January 5, 1996, the film earned $13.84 million in its opening weekend. 12 Monkeys eventually grossed $57.14 million in US totals and $111.7 million in other countries, coming to a worldwide total of $168.84 million.[12] The film was able to hold the #1 spot on box office charts for two weeks in January, before dropping from competition to From Dusk till Dawn, Mr. Holland's Opus and Black Sheep.[13] 12 Monkeys was a major financial success because it out-matched its $29.5 million budget.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment's special edition release of 12 Monkeys in May 2005 contains an audio commentary by director Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven, The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys (a making-of documentary) and production notes.[14]

Critical analysis

The film also received a positive response from critics. Based on 49 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 85% of the critics enjoyed 12 Monkeys with an average rating of 7.2/10. The consensus reads: "The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience."[15] The film was more balanced with Rotten Tomatoes' 16 reviewers in the "Top Critics" poll, receiving an 88% approval rating and a 7.1/10 score.[16] By comparison, Metacritic calculated a 74/100 rating, based on 20 reviews.[17]

Roger Ebert observed 12 Monkeys' depiction of the future, finding similarities with Blade Runner (1982; also scripted by David Peoples) and Brazil (1985; also directed by Terry Gilliam). "The film is a celebration of madness and doom, with a hero who tries to prevail against the chaos of his condition, and is inadequate," Ebert wrote. "This vision is a cold, dark, damp one, and even the romance between Willis and Stowe feels desperate rather than joyous. All of this is done very well, and the more you know about movies (especially the technical side), the more you're likely to admire it. And as entertainment, it appeals more to the mind than to the senses."[18]

Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised the art direction and set design. "Willis and Pitts's performances, Gilliam's atmospherics and an exhilarating momentum easily outweigh such trifling flaws in the script," Thomson reasoned.[19] Peter Travers from Rolling Stone magazine cited the film's success on Gilliam's direction and Willis' performance.[20] Internet reviewer James Berardinelli believed the filmmakers took an intelligent and creative motive for the time travel subplot. Rather than being sent to change the past, James Cole is instead observing it to make a better future.[21] Richard Corliss of Time magazine felt the film's time travel aspect and apocalyptic depiction of a bleaker future was overtly cliché. "In its frantic mix of chaos, carnage and zoo animals, 12 Monkeys is Jumanji (1995) for adults," Corliss wrote.[22]

Awards

Brad Pitt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. Costume designer Julie Weiss (Hollywoodland, Frida) was also nominated for her work, but lost to James Acheson of Restoration.[23] However, Pitt was able to win Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.[24] Terry Gilliam was honored for his directing duties at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival.[9] 12 Monkeys received positive notices from the science fiction community. The film was nominated the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation[25] and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films awarded 12 Monkeys the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Pitt and Weiss also won awards at the 22nd Saturn Awards. Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Gilliam and writers David and Janet Peoples received nominations.[26]

Lebbeus Woods lawsuit

In the beginning of the movie, James is brought into the interrogation room and told to sit in a chair which is attached to a vertical rail on the wall. A sphere supported by a metal armature is suspended directly in front of him, probing for weaknesses as the inquisitors interrogate him.[27] Architect Lebbeus Woods filed a lawsuit against Universal Pictures in February 1996, claiming that his work "Neomechanical Tower (Upper) Chamber" was used without permission. Woods won his lawsuit, earning over $1 million from Universal, and allowed the studio to continue distribution of the movie.[27]

References

  1. ^ Chris Nashawaty (2006-08-04). "They Call Him Mr. Pitch". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1219922_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g DVD production notes
  3. ^ a b c d Ian Christie; Terry Gilliam (1999). Gilliam on Gilliam. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 220–225. ISBN 0-571-20280-2. 
  4. ^ a b c Christie, Gilliam, pp.226-230
  5. ^ a b c The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, 1997, Universal Home Video
  6. ^ a b c d Terry Gilliam, Charles Roven, DVD audio commentary, 1998, Universal Home Video
  7. ^ a b Jill Gerston (1995-12-24). "Terry Gilliam: Going Mainstream (Sort Of)". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Jeff Gordinier (1995-05-19). "Brass Bald". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,297297,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Christie, Gilliam, pp.231-233
  10. ^ Nick James (April 1996). "Time and the Machine". Sight & Sound. 
  11. ^ "SALON Reviews:12 Monkeys". Salon Media Group. http://www.salon.com/05/reviews/monkey2.html. Retrieved 19 Jan 2010. 
  12. ^ "12 Monkeys". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=twelvemonkeys.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  13. ^ "Twelve Monkeys". The Numbers. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/1995/012MN.php. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  14. ^ "12 Monkeys (Special Edition) (1996)". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007PALZ2. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  15. ^ "12 Monkeys". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  16. ^ "12 Monkeys: Top Critics". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  17. ^ "12 Monkeys (1995): Reviews". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/video/titles/12monkeys/. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  18. ^ Roger Ebert (1996-01-05). "12 Monkeys". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19960105/REVIEWS/601050301/1023. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  19. ^ Desson Thomson (1996-01-05). "12 Monkeys". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/twelvemonkeys.htm#howe. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  20. ^ Peter Travers (1996-01-25). "12 Monkeys". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/5948875/review/5948876/12_monkeys. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  21. ^ James Berardinelli. "Twelve Monkeys". ReelViews. http://www.reelviews.net/movies/t/twelve_mon.html. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  22. ^ Richard Corliss (1996-01-08). "Back To The Bleak Future". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,983933,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  23. ^ "1995 (68) Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  24. ^ "12 Monkeys". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. http://www.goldenglobes.org/browse/film/23446. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  25. ^ "1996 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards Organization. http://www.thehugoawards.org/?page_id=24. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  26. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#film. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  27. ^ a b "Copyright Casebook: 12 Monkeys - Universal Studios and Lebbeus Woods". Benedict.com. http://www.benedict.com/Visual/Monkeys/Monkeys.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stargate
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
1995
Succeeded by
Independence Day

12 Monkeys
File:Twelve
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Produced by Charles Roven
Written by Screenplay:
David Peoples
Janet Peoples
Inspired by La Jetée:
Chris Marker
Starring Bruce Willis
Madeleine Stowe
Brad Pitt
Christopher Plummer
Music by Paul Buckmaster
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Editing by Mick Audsley
Studio Universal Pictures
Atlas Entertainment
Classico
Distributed by North America:
Universal Pictures
Foreign:
United International Pictures
UK:
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Release date(s) United States:
December 29, 1995 (limited)
January 5, 1996 (wide)
Australia:
March 14, 1996
United Kingdom:
April 19, 1996
New Zealand:
May 10, 1996
Running time 127 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $29.5 million
Gross revenue $168.84 million

12 Monkeys is a 1995 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Plummer.

After Universal Studios acquired the rights to remake La Jetée as a full-length film, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script. Under Terry Gilliam's direction, Universal granted the filmmakers a $29.5 million budget, and filming lasted from February to May 1995. The film was shot mostly in Philadelphia and Baltimore, where the story was set.

The film was released to critical praise and grossed approximately $168 million worldwide. Brad Pitt was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and won a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also won and was nominated for various categories at the Saturn Awards.

Contents

Plot

James Cole (Bruce Willis) is a convicted criminal living in a grim post-apocalyptic future. In 1996–1997, the Earth's surface was contaminated by a virus so deadly that it forced the surviving population to live underground. To earn a pardon, Cole allows scientists to send him on dangerous missions to the past to collect information on the virus, thought to be released by a terrorist organization known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. If possible, he is to obtain a pure sample of the original virus so a cure can be made. Throughout the film, Cole is troubled with recurring dreams involving a chase and a shooting in an airport.

On Cole's first trip, he arrives in Baltimore in 1990, not 1996 as planned. He is arrested and hospitalized in a mental institution on the diagnosis of Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). There, he encounters Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), a fellow mental patient with animal rights and anti-consumerist leanings. Cole tries unsuccessfully to leave a voice mail on a number monitored by the scientists in the future. After a failed escape attempt, Cole is restrained and locked in a cell, but then disappears, returning to the future. Back in his own time, Cole is interviewed by the scientists, who play a distorted voice mail message which gives the location of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys and states that they are responsible for the virus. He is also shown photos of numerous people, including Goines. The scientists then send him back to 1996.

Cole kidnaps Railly and sets out in search of Goines, learning that he is the founder of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. When confronted, however, Goines denies any involvement with the virus and suggests that wiping out humanity was Cole's idea, originally broached at the asylum in 1990. Cole vanishes again as the police approach. After Cole disappears, Railly begins to doubt her diagnosis of Cole when she finds evidence that he is telling the truth. Cole, on the other hand, convinces himself that his future experiences are hallucinations, and persuades the scientists to send him back again. Railly attempts to settle the question of Cole's sanity by leaving a voice mail on the number he provided, creating the message the scientists played prior to his second mission. They both now realize that the coming plague is real, and make plans to enjoy the time they have left.

On their way to the airport, they learn that the Army of the Twelve Monkeys is a red herring; all the Army has done is delay traffic by releasing all the animals in the zoo. At the airport, Cole leaves a last message telling the scientists they are on the wrong track following the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, and that he will not return. He is soon confronted by Jose (Jon Seda), an acquaintance from his own time, who gives Cole a handgun and instructions to complete his mission. At the same time, Railly spots the true culprit behind the virus: Dr. Peters (David Morse), an assistant at the Goines virology lab. Peters is about to embark on a tour of several cities around the world, which matches the sequence (memorized by Cole) of viral outbreaks. Cole, while fighting through security, is fatally shot as he tries to stop Peters. As Cole dies in Railly's arms, she makes eye contact with a small boy – the young James Cole witnessing his own death; the scene that will replay in his dreams for years to come. Dr. Peters, safely aboard, sits down next to Jones (Carol Florence), one of the lead scientists in the future.

Cast

Production

Development

The genesis of 12 Monkeys came from executive producer Robert Kosberg, who had been a fan of the French short film La Jetée (1962). Kosberg persuaded the film's director, Chris Marker, to let him pitch the project to Universal Pictures, seeing it as a perfect basis for a full-length science fiction film. Universal reluctantly agreed to purchase the remake rights and hired David and Janet Peoples to write the screenplay.[1] Producer Charles Roven chose Terry Gilliam to direct because he believed the filmmaker's style was perfect for 12 Monkeys's nonlinear storyline and time travel subplot.[2] Gilliam had just abandoned a film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities when he signed to direct 12 Monkeys.[3] The film also represents the second film for which Gilliam did not write or co-write the screenplay. Although he prefers to direct his own scripts, he was captivated by the Peoples' "intriguing and intelligent script. The story is disconcerting. It deals with time, madness and a perception of what the world is or isn't. It is a study of madness and dreams, of death and re-birth, set in a world coming apart."[2]

Universal took longer than expected to green-light 12 Monkeys, although Gilliam had two stars (Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt) and a firm budget of $29.5 million (low for a Hollywood science fiction film). Universal's production of Waterworld (1995) had resulted in various cost overruns. To get 12 Monkeys greenlighted, Gilliam convinced Willis to lower his normal asking price.[4] Because of Universal's strict production incentives and his previous history with the studio on Brazil (1985), Gilliam received the right of final cut privilege.[5] The Writers Guild of America was also skeptical of the "inspired by" credit for La Jetée and Chris Marker.[6]

Casting

Gilliam's initial casting choices were Nick Nolte as James Cole and Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey Goines, but Universal objected.[3] Gilliam, who first met Bruce Willis while casting Jeff Bridges' role in The Fisher King (1991), believed Willis evoked Cole's characterization as being "somebody who is strong and dangerous but also vulnerable."[2] The actor had a trio of tattoos drawn onto his scalp and neck each day when filming: one that indicated his prisoner number, and a pair of barcodes on each side of his neck.

Gilliam cast Madeleine Stowe as Dr. Kathryn Railly because he was impressed by her performance in Blink (1994).[2] The director first met Stowe when he was casting his abandoned film adaptation of A Tale of Two Cities.[3] "She has this incredible ethereal beauty and she's incredibly intelligent", Gilliam reasoned. "Those two things rest very easily with her, and the film needed those elements because it has to be romantic."[2]

Gilliam originally believed that Brad Pitt was not right for the role of Jeffrey Goines, but the casting director convinced him otherwise.[3] Pitt was cast for a relatively small salary, when he was still an "up and coming" actor. By the time of 12 Monkeys' release, however, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), Legends of the Fall (1994), and Seven (1995) had been released, making Pitt an A-list actor, which drew greater attention to the film and boosted its box-office standing.[5] In Philadelphia, months before filming, Pitt spent weeks at Temple University's hospital, visiting and studying the psychiatric ward to prepare for his role.[2]

Filming

Filming for 12 Monkeys lasted from February 8, 1995 to May 6, 1995. Shooting on location in Philadelphia and Baltimore (including the Senator Theatre)[7][8] in the winter time was fraught with weather problems. There were also technical glitches with the futuristic mechanical props. Because the film has a nonlinear storyline, continuity errors occurred and some scenes had to be reshot. Gilliam also injured himself when he went horseback riding. Despite setbacks, however, the director managed to stay within the budget and was only a week behind his shooting schedule. "It was a tough shoot", acknowledged Jeffrey Beecroft (Mr. Brooks, Dances with Wolves), the production designer. "There wasn't a lot of money or enough time. Terry is a perfectionist, but he was really adamant about not going over budget. He got crucified for Munchausen, and that still haunts him."[7]

The filmmakers were not allowed the luxury of sound stages, thus they had to find abandoned buildings or landmarks in Philadelphia to use.[6] The exterior shots of the climactic airport scene were conducted at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, while the Pennsylvania Convention Center at Reading Terminal housed interior scenes. Filming at the psychiatric hospital was done at the Eastern State Penitentiary.[9]

Design

Gilliam undertook the same filmmaking style from his own Brazil (1985), including the art direction and cinematography (specifically using fresnel lenses).[4] The interrogation room where Cole is being interviewed by the scientists was based on the work of Lebbeus Woods; these scenes were shot at three different power stations (two in Philadelphia and one in Baltimore). Gilliam intended to show Cole being interviewed through a multi-screen interrogation TV set because he felt the machinery evoked a "nightmarish intervention of technology. You try to see the faces on the screens in front of you, but the real faces and voices are down there and you have these tiny voices in your ear. To me that's the world we live in, the way we communicate these days, through technical devices that pretend to be about communication but may not be."[10]

The art department made sure that the 2035 underground world would only use pre-1996 technology as a means to depict the bleak future.[5] Also, Gilliam, Beecroft, and Crispian Sallis (set decorator) went to several flea markets and salvage warehouses looking for materials to decorate the sets.[11] To create the majority of visual effects sequences, Gilliam awarded the shots to Peerless Camera, the London-based effects studio he founded in the late-1970s with visual effects supervisor Kent Houston (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale). Additional digital compositing was done by The Mill, while Cinesite worked on film scanning services.[2]

Music

The film's score was composed, arranged, and conducted by English musician Paul Buckmaster. The main theme is based on Argentinian tango musician and composer Ástor Piazzolla's Suite Punta del Este.[12]

Themes

Memory, time, and technology

"Cole has been thrust from another world into ours and he's confronted by the confusion we live in, which most people somehow accept as normal. So he appears abnormal, and what's happening around him seems random and weird. Is he mad or are we?"
— Director Terry Gilliam[4]

12 Monkeys studies the subjective nature of memories and their effect upon perceptions of reality. Examples of false memories include:[6]

  • Cole's recollection of the airport shooting which is altered each time he has a dream.
  • A "mentally divergent" man at the asylum who has false memories.
  • Railly telling Cole "I remember you like this" when a barely recognizable Cole and Railly are seen in disguise for the first time.

References to time, time travel, and monkeys are scattered throughout the film, including the Woody Woodpecker "Time Tunnel" cartoon playing on the TV in a hotel room, The Marx Brothers movie Monkey Business (1931) on TV in the asylum and the subplots of monkeys (drug testing, news stories and animal rights). The film is also a study of modern civilization's declining efforts to communicate with each other due to the interference of technology.[6]

Cinematic allusions

12 Monkeys is inspired by the French short film La Jetée (1962), specifically, both protagonists being haunted by the image of their own death. The climaxes for both films also take place in an airport.[9]

Similar to La Jetée, 12 Monkeys also presents Hitchcockian elements and references to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958). Toward the end of the film, Cole and Railly hide in a theater showing a 24-hour Hitchcock marathon and watch a scene from Vertigo. Railly then transforms herself with a blonde wig, as Judy (Kim Novak) transformed herself into blonde Madeleine in Vertigo; James sees her emerge within a red light, as Scottie (James Stewart) saw Judy emerge within a green light.[9] Brief notes of Bernard Herrmann's 1958 film score can also be heard. Railly also wears the same coat Novak wore in the first part of Vertigo. The scene at Muir Woods National Monument, where Judy (as Madeleine) looks at the growth rings of a felled redwood and traces back events in her past life, resonates with larger themes in 12 Monkeys'. Cole and Railly later have a similar conversation while the same music from Vertigo is repeated.[9] In fact, the Muir Woods scene in Vertigo is also re-enacted in La Jetée, making this another connection to that film.

Further on in the film, Cole wakes up in a hospital bed with scientists of the future talking to him in chorus. This is a direct homage to the "Dry Bones" scene in Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective.[13]

Reception

Release

12 Monkeys was given a limited release in the United States on December 29, 1995. When the 1,629 theater wide release came on January 5, 1996, the film earned $13.84 million in its opening weekend. 12 Monkeys eventually grossed $57.14 million in US totals and $111.7 million in other countries, coming to a worldwide total of $168.84 million.[14] The film was able to hold the #1 spot on box office charts for two weeks in January, before dropping from competition to From Dusk till Dawn, Mr. Holland's Opus and Black Sheep.[15] 12 Monkeys was a major financial success because it out-matched its $29.5 million budget.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment's special edition release of 12 Monkeys in May 2005 contains an audio commentary by director Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven, The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys (a making-of documentary) and production notes.[16]

Critical analysis

The film received a positive response from critics. Based on 45 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 87% of the critics enjoyed 12 Monkeys with an average rating of 7.6/10. The consensus reads: "The plot's a bit of a jumble, but excellent performances and mind-blowing plot twists make 12 Monkeys a kooky, effective experience."[17] The film was more balanced with Rotten Tomatoes' 18 reviewers in the "Top Critics" poll, receiving an 83% approval rating and a 6.8/10 score.[18] By comparison, Metacritic calculated a 74/100 rating, based on 20 reviews.[19]

Roger Ebert observed 12 Monkeys' depiction of the future, finding similarities with Blade Runner (1982; also scripted by David Peoples) and Brazil (1985; also directed by Terry Gilliam). "The film is a celebration of madness and doom, with a hero who tries to prevail against the chaos of his condition, and is inadequate", Ebert wrote. "This vision is a cold, dark, damp one, and even the romance between Willis and Stowe feels desperate rather than joyous. All of this is done very well, and the more you know about movies (especially the technical side), the more you're likely to admire it. And as entertainment, it appeals more to the mind than to the senses."[20]

Desson Thomson of The Washington Post praised the art direction and set design. "Willis and Pitts's performances, Gilliam's atmospherics and an exhilarating momentum easily outweigh such trifling flaws in the script", Thomson reasoned.[21] Peter Travers from Rolling Stone magazine cited the film's success on Gilliam's direction and Willis' performance.[22] Internet reviewer James Berardinelli believed the filmmakers took an intelligent and creative motive for the time travel subplot. Rather than being sent to change the past, James Cole is instead observing it to make a better future.[23] Richard Corliss of Time magazine felt the film's time travel aspect and apocalyptic depiction of a bleaker future was overtly cliché. "In its frantic mix of chaos, carnage and zoo animals, 12 Monkeys is Jumanji for adults", Corliss wrote.[24]

Awards

Brad Pitt was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. Costume designer Julie Weiss (Hollywoodland, Frida) was also nominated for her work, but lost to James Acheson of Restoration.[25] However, Pitt was able to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.[26] Terry Gilliam was honored for his directing duties at the 1996 Berlin International Film Festival.[9] 12 Monkeys received positive notices from the science fiction community. The film was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation[27] and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films awarded 12 Monkeys the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film. Pitt and Weiss also won awards at the 22nd Saturn Awards. Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Gilliam and writers David and Janet Peoples received nominations.[28]

Lebbeus Woods lawsuit

In the beginning of the movie, James is brought into the interrogation room and told to sit in a chair which is attached to a vertical rail on the wall. A sphere supported by a metal armature is suspended directly in front of him, probing for weaknesses as the inquisitors interrogate him.[29] Architect Lebbeus Woods filed a lawsuit against Universal Pictures in February 1996, claiming that his work "Neomechanical Tower (Upper) Chamber" was used without permission. Woods won his lawsuit, earning over $1 million from Universal, and allowed the studio to continue distribution of the movie.[29]

References

  1. ^ Chris Nashawaty (2006-08-04). "They Call Him Mr. Pitch". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1219922_1,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g DVD production notes
  3. ^ a b c d Ian Christie; Terry Gilliam (1999). Gilliam on Gilliam. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 220–225. ISBN 0-571-20280-2. 
  4. ^ a b c Christie, Gilliam, pp.226–230
  5. ^ a b c The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, 1997, Universal Home Video
  6. ^ a b c d Terry Gilliam, Charles Roven, DVD audio commentary, 1998, Universal Home Video
  7. ^ a b Jill Gerston (1995-12-24). "Terry Gilliam: Going Mainstream (Sort Of)". The New York Times. 
  8. ^ Jeff Gordinier (1995-05-19). "Brass Bald". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,297297,00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Christie, Gilliam, pp.231–233
  10. ^ Nick James (April 1996). "Time and the Machine". Sight & Sound. 
  11. ^ [DVD's Production Notes]
  12. ^ "Suite Punta del Este". Ástor Piazzolla. http://www.piazzolla.org/works2/suite.html. Retrieved 09-12-2010. 
  13. ^ "SALON Reviews:12 Monkeys". Salon Media Group. http://www.salon.com/05/reviews/monkey2.html. Retrieved 19 Jan 2010. 
  14. ^ "12 Monkeys". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=twelvemonkeys.htm. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  15. ^ "Twelve Monkeys". The Numbers. http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/1995/012MN.php. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  16. ^ "12 Monkeys (Special Edition) (1996)". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0007PALZ2. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  17. ^ "12 Monkeys". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  18. ^ "12 Monkeys: Top Critics". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/12_monkeys/?critic=creamcrop. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  19. ^ "12 Monkeys (1995): Reviews". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/twelve-monkeys. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  20. ^ Roger Ebert (1996-01-05). "12 Monkeys". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19960105/REVIEWS/601050301/1023. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  21. ^ Desson Thomson (1996-01-05). "12 Monkeys". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/twelvemonkeys.htm#howe. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  22. ^ Peter Travers (1996-01-25). "12 Monkeys". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/5948875/review/5948876/12_monkeys. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  23. ^ James Berardinelli. "Twelve Monkeys". ReelViews. http://www.reelviews.net/movies/t/twelve_mon.html. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  24. ^ Richard Corliss (1996-01-08). "Back To The Bleak Future". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,983933,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  25. ^ "1995 (68) Academy Awards". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/DisplayMain.jsp. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  26. ^ "12 Monkeys". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. http://www.goldenglobes.org/browse/film/23446. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  27. ^ "1996 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards Organization. http://www.thehugoawards.org/?page_id=24. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  28. ^ "Past Saturn Awards". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. http://www.saturnawards.org/past.html#film. Retrieved 2007-04-14. 
  29. ^ a b "Copyright Casebook: 12 Monkeys - Universal Studios and Lebbeus Woods". Benedict.com. http://www.benedict.com/Visual/Monkeys/Monkeys.aspx. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Stargate
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
1995
Succeeded by
Independence Day


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Twelve Monkeys article)

From Wikiquote

All I see are dead people.

Twelve Monkeys is a 1995 science-fiction time-travel movie about a convict, sent back in time to stop a devastating plague believed to have been released by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, but who is sent too far back and is hospitalized as insane.

Directed by former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and inspired by the short film La Jetée. The screenplay was written by David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples.
The future is history. Taglines

Contents

James Cole

  • Oh, wouldn't it be great if I was crazy? Then the world would be okay.
  • It's just like what's happening with us, like the past. The movie never changes. It can't change; but every time you see it, it seems different because you're different. You see different things.
  • All I see are dead people.

Jeffrey Goines

  • Telephone call? Telephone call? That's communication with the outside world. Doctor's discretion. Nuh-uh. Look, hey — all of these nuts could just make phone calls. They could spread insanity, oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all these poor sane people, infecting them. Wackos everywhere. Plague of madness.
There's the television. It's all right there — all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray...
  • You are a total nutcase, completely deranged, delusional, paranoid. Your thought process is all fucked up. Your information tray is jammed, man!
  • There's the television. It's all right there — all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray. Commercials! We're not productive any more. We don't make things any more. It's all automated. What are we for, then? We're consumers, Jim. Yeah. Okay, okay. Buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask you? What? Mentally ill. Fact, Jim, fact: if you don't buy things — toilet paper, new cars, computerized yo-yos, electrically-operated sexual devices, servo systems with brain-implanted headphones, screwdrivers with miniature built-in radar devices, voice-activated computers...

Others

  • Dr. Peters: I think, Dr. Railly, you have given your "alarmists" a bad name. Surely there is very real and very convincing data that the planet cannot survive the excesses of the human race: proliferation of atomic devices, uncontrolled breeding habits, the rape of the environment, the pollution of land, sea, and air. In this context, isn't it obvious that "Chicken Little" represents the sane vision and that Homo Sapiens' motto, "Let's go shopping!" is the cry of the true lunatic?

Dialogue

I am mentally divergent, in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going there, I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?
L.J. Washington: I don't really come from outer space.
Jeffrey Goines: Oh. L.J. Washington. He doesn't really come from outer space.
L.J. Washington: Don't mock me, my friend. It's a condition of mental divergence. I find myself on the planet Ogo, part of an intellectual elite, preparing to subjugate the barbarian hordes on Pluto. But even though this is a totally convincing reality for me in every way, nevertheless Ogo is actually a construct of my psyche. I am mentally divergent in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going there, I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?

Jeffrey Goines: You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.
James Cole: Germs?
Jeffrey Goines: Uh-huh. Eighteenth century: no such thing, nada, nothing. No one ever imagined such a thing. No sane person. Along comes this doctor, uh, Semmelweis, Semmelweis. Semmelweis comes along. He's trying to convince people, other doctors mainly, that's there's these teeny tiny invisible bad things called germs that get into your body and make you sick. He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy? Crazy? Teeny, tiny, invisible? What do they call it? Uh-uh, germs? Huh? What? Now, up to the 20th century — last week, as a matter of fact, before I got dragged into this hellhole — I go in to order a burger at this fast-food joint, and the guy drops it on the floor. James, he picks it up, he wipes it off, he hands it to me like it's all OK. "What about the germs?" I say. He says "I don't believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps." Now he's crazy, right?

James Cole: Look at them. They're just asking for it. Maybe the human race deserves to be wiped out.
Jeffrey Goines: Wiping out the human race? That's a great idea. That's great. But more of a long-term thing. I mean, first we have to focus on more immediate goals.

James Cole: This is a place for crazy people. I'm not crazy.
Dr. Peters: We don't use the term "crazy," Mr. Cole.
James Cole: Well, you've got some real nuts here.

Taglines

  • The future is history.
  • They're coming.

Cast

External links

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