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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Top Rated Movies #234 | Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »
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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

When Kathryn Railly first gets a call about Cole she is attending a poetry recital. The work being read is a quatrain from "The Rubaiyat" by Persian-born poet and astronomer Omar Khayyam. The quatrain being read is: Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare; To-morrow's Silence, Triumph, or Despair: Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why: Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where. 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

Spoofed in The Simpsons: The Dad Who Knew Too Little (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Silent Night, Holy Night
(1818) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Gruber
Lyrics by Joseph Mohr
Played in the score and sung offscreen by an unidentifed chorus
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
these monkeys will go to heaven...
13 June 2003 | by See all my reviews

"Twelve monkeys"'s got all the elements to become Terry Gilliam's masterpiece. An outstanding screenplay, a sustained rhythm, clever sometimes ironic dialogs. Moreover, he had a good nose about the cast. "Twelve monkeys" is also the first movie where Bruce Willis stands back from the kind of character he used to play in his previous movies. Here, a jaded and hopeless character which you could nickname a prisoner took over from a fearless and invincible hero (as it was the case in "Die hard"). No matter how he tries, he's a prisoner of the time. The movie contains a very thrilling end too. It's got a real dramatic power. But this terrific movie is also a reflection about man, the dangers he dreads (notably, the ones that could cause the end of the world and here, these are virus that can create illnesses). No matter how long it will take, "twelve monkeys" will be estimated at its true value: one of the masterpieces made in the nineties.


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I'm really underwhelmed. What did I miss? cartesianthought
If Cole knew about the kid in the barn frozenwashcloth
One question that's bothered me pferreira86
Is this just the 90's? Pr1ceisright
An awfully convenient coincidence? digeridoo-59344
Absolutely Pathetic tsmit67
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