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Twelve Monkeys (1995)

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.

Director:

Terry Gilliam

Writers:

Chris Marker (film La Jetée), David Webb Peoples (screenplay) (as David Peoples) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joseph Melito Joseph Melito ... Young Cole
Bruce Willis ... James Cole
Jon Seda ... Jose
Michael Chance Michael Chance ... Scarface
Vernon Campbell ... Tiny
H. Michael Walls H. Michael Walls ... Botanist
Bob Adrian ... Geologist
Simon Jones ... Zoologist
Carol Florence Carol Florence ... Astrophysicist / Jones
Bill Raymond ... Microbiologist
Ernest Abuba Ernest Abuba ... Engineer
Irma St. Paule Irma St. Paule ... Poet
Madeleine Stowe ... Kathryn Railly
Joey Perillo ... Detective Franki
Bruce Kirkpatrick Bruce Kirkpatrick ... Policeman No. 1
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

5 January 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

12 Monkeys See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$29,000,001 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,200,000, 7 January 1996

Gross USA:

$57,141,459

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$168,839,459
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS-Stereo | DTS | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Rankcolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Terry Gilliam gave Bruce Willis a list of "Willis acting clichés" not to be used during the film, including the "steely blue eyes look". See more »

Goofs

When James Cole returns from his first trip to the past and is in his cell, he no longer has the bloody wound on his head that he received from his scuffle with the police in 1990. However, when he is being debriefed by the scientists in the next scene, the head wound is back. 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 »


Soundtracks

Piano Concerto No. 21 In C Major, K.467
(uncredited)
Written by: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Superior sci-fi
20 April 2012 | by Red-BarracudaSee all my reviews

A convict from the year 2035 is assigned a mission in order to win parole. He is sent back in time by a group of scientists to try and discover the source of a fatal plague that wiped out most of the human race. A plague which did not kill animals. In his travels he discovers mysterious graffiti announcing the arrival of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys.

Terry Gilliam has always been an interesting film director and visual stylist even when some of his movies are uneven. With 12 Monkeys he perhaps produces his most wholly satisfying work. It's a consistently compelling mystery within the framework of a time-travelling sci-fi narrative. It's a fairly complex story, so attention is demanded of the viewer. This is perhaps the chief strength of the film, however, as the labyrinthine narrative is one that benefits from multiple viewings. There are still some elements of ambiguity even at the end, so it's a film that actively encourages discussion.

There's a good cast too. Bruce Willis was on a bit of a run in the mid 90's and this is one of the great films he appeared in at the height of his powers. On the other hand, it's one of the first films where Brad Pitt was allowed to display his acting chops and show that he was a lot more than just a pretty face. While in visual terms, it's as interesting as you would expect from a Gilliam movie; although not as phantasmagorical as some of his more personal fantasy features. In 12 Monkeys he was a director for hire but it's not immediately obvious. Perhaps the distance this gave him actually helped instill some discipline that made the whole more cohesive on the whole. Whatever the case, this is an excellent sci-fi film with a compelling central mystery.


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