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.

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(film La Jetée), (screenplay) (as David Peoples) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Melito ...
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Michael Chance ...
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H. Michael Walls ...
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Carol Florence ...
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Ernest Abuba ...
Irma St. Paule ...
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Bruce Kirkpatrick ...
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Storyline

An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic (who he's told was spread by a mysterious "Army of the Twelve Monkeys") and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert. Written by Giancarlo Cairella <vertigo@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The future is history. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

5 January 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

12 Monkeys  »

Box Office

Budget:

$29,000,001 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,320,430 (UK) (19 April 1996)

Gross:

$56,882,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this was inspired by Chris Marker's classic short, La Jetée (1962), director Terry Gilliam had not seen it when this was made. See more »

Goofs

Young James Cole has a scar that runs horizontally almost the entire length. The adult James has no such scar. Some scars acquired as a child may disappear later in life. I had a scar at age 17 and now at 62 is gone. Another scar acquired at age 11 was originally about 3 inches long but is now only about 3/4" long. The section that remains was the most significant part of the injury. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
James Cole: Jose - psst! Jose, what's going on?
Jose: Bad news, man
James Cole: Volunteers?
Jose: Yeah. And they said your name.
[pause]
Jose: Hey, maybe they'll give you a pardon, man.
James Cole: [sarcastic] Yeah, that's why none of the volunteers come back. They all get a pardon.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The symbol of the 12 Monkeys provides the backdrop for the opening and closing credits. See more »

Connections

References Zero for Conduct (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Sleep Walk
(1959)
Written by Johnny Farina (as John Farina), Ann Farina, Santo Farina
Performed by B.J. Cole
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Terry Gilliam: Visionary - 12 Monkeys: Vision
24 April 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

I had the privilege of seeing this film at a preview screening years ago, and outside the theater I was confronted by a camera crew from a local TV station looking for comments on the film. At the time, the only words that escaped my mouth were "Awesome. Just awesome." I like to think I can articulate myself a little better than that, but at the time I was somewhat incapable of doing so.

The story is intriguing and thought provoking, and the acting is first rate from all the principals. This film was the first one that Terry Gilliam directed that he didn't have a hand in the writing credit for. Back with Universal after his long, arduous battle with them over "Brazil", Terry had achieved what he wanted most; the "final cut". Terry is a master craftsman, and each shot is like a beautifully conceived painting that has been constructed carefully with determination and conviction. It is only justice that such an individual should be unfettered in his attempts to convey a concept. Unfortunately, limitations still exist in such arrangements.

The Universal Collector's Edition DVD of this film is simply amazing, although most of the bonus features aren't listed on the box. It contains among other things, a director/producer audio commentary and an informative and extremely interesting 90 minute documentary on the making of the film called "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of 12 Monkeys". It tells of some of the creative pitfalls in filmmaking, including a test of mettle when preview screenings tested poorly, striking the team with feelings of self-doubt and despair. Fortunately, for all of us, they decided to change very little about the film and released it to an enormous success.


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