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12 Monkeys (1995)

Twelve Monkeys (original title)
2:26 | Trailer
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.


Terry Gilliam


Chris Marker (film La Jetée), David Webb Peoples (screenplay) (as David Peoples) | 1 more credit »
924 ( 13)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 23 nominations. See more awards »





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 ... Poet
Madeleine Stowe ... Kathryn Railly
Joey Perillo ... Detective Franki
Bruce Kirkpatrick ... Policeman No. 1


An intense film about time travel, this Sci-Fi entry was directed by Terry Gilliam, a member of the comedy troupe Monty Python. The film stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a prisoner of the state in the year 2035 who can earn parole if he agrees to travel back in time and thwart a devastating plague. The virus has wiped out most of the Earth's population and the remainder live underground because the air is poisonous. Returning to the year 1990, six years before the start of the plague, Cole is soon imprisoned in a psychiatric facility because his warnings sound like mad ravings. There he meets a scientist named Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) and Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the mad son of an eminent virologist (Christopher Plummer). Cole is returned by the authorities to the year 2035, and finally ends up at his intended destination in 1996. He kidnaps Dr. Railly in order to enlist her help in his quest. Cole discovers graffiti by an apparent animal rights group called the Army ...

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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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Did You Know?


Brad Pitt wore hand painted contact lenses to achieve his cockeyed look for the film. See more »


A major scene is set in and outside the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia, with the sign prominently visible. Between the time the movie was filmed in early 1995 and released that Christmas, John Wanamaker was renamed Hecht's, the name it still carried when the events of the film are actually set, in late 1996. See more »


[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.
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.
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Crazy Credits

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


Features Little 'Tinker (1948) See more »


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

User Reviews

Pure Mad Genius Filmmaking
28 November 2014 | by The-AmbassadorSee all my reviews

It is unfortunate that all big budget films cannot be as good as 12 MONKEYS. But alas is that not what makes these once in a while films so special? Obviously director Gilliam is a rare talent, a treasure. But even for him 12 Monkeys outshines nearly everything else he's ever done. (And that says a lot. Brazil after all is another incredible film.) But this movie has two things going for it that ale it rise to the very top of the top. #1 it features a stellar cast who all equally deliver fantastic performances. This is Bruce Willis at his peak -- before he sold out and went all Die Hard, when e still cared about being taken seriously as an actor. Same with Brad Pitt. Many attribute this film as the first time Pitt showed the world that he truly was an actor and not just another pretty face. (He further proved that point in Fight Club and many others through the years -- Money Ball, Tree of Life, et al.) and then there's Madeline Stowe. Besides the stellar acting though 12 Monkeys accomplished something even more important: it gave us the opportunity for future films such as Memento and Inception. 12 Monkeys not only featured a non-linear approach to time travel, it did so erratically boldly dynamically and unapologetically so, allowing future filmmakers, like the aforementioned referenced Nolan brothers, to feel safe stepping even further out on those limbs. 12 Monkeys opened that door and so many others. This is a film you can see over and over and still see something new in it AND be moved by. A classic by all standards.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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English | French

Release Date:

5 January 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

12 Monkeys See more »


Box Office


$29,000,001 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$184,776, 1 January 1996

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS-Stereo | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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