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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
Jose - psst! Jose, what's going on?
Bad news, man
Yeah. And they said your name.
Hey, maybe they'll give you a pardon, man.
Yeah, that's why none of the volunteers come back. They all get a pardon.
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The symbol of the 12 Monkeys provides the backdrop for the opening and closing credits. See more »
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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