11.05.2012

12 Monkeys

Prepare for something FRENCH
"They're Coming."

Hey everyone, it's Tuesday, and I'm finally back for real! I have working lights and everything, so I thought that it was time for a celebration. I celebrate things by reviewing or watching Bruce Willis movies. So today I thought I'd pick pretty much the weirdest one I can think of, and talk about Twelve Monkeys. I mentioned that Looper kind of reminded me of this movie, even though it was only because their messages were so different, but there is a similar kind of structure to them. Twelve Monkeys was made in 1995, based on a French short film shot in the 1960s. It stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a convicted criminal living in a post-apocalyptic future, where an engineered virus has forced the remains of human civilization underground. In this future, scientists have developed an imprecise form of time travel, and in order to try and earn a pardon, Cole is sent into the past, to try and gather information about the virus, and if possible obtain a sample of the original so a cure might be made. The virus is believed to have been released by a terrorist organization known as the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, and with that vague information to go on Cole is sent first to 1990, and then to 1996 around when the virus was supposed to have been released.

This is not a happy future. It is a weird French one.
First and foremost, Twelve Monkeys is a weird ass movie. All indicators suggest that Cole is a very troubled and unstable individual, and the method by which he travels back in time only adds to his fragmented mental state. Throughout the movie he suffers a recurring nightmare involving a shooting at an airport (that ends up significant to the climax of the movie). He is committed to a sanitarium for a time when he appears in 1990, and it is there that he meets Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt, as a crazy eyed raving lunatic), who he discovers may be involved in the release of the virus. The movie is shown from Cole's point of view, and so there are segments that are very disorienting for the audience, mirroring Cole's own confusion. 


Cole is the man in the box. Taaaalking to Brad Pitt!
This limited perspective, along with the jarring switches between the future and the past, help to build a sense of claustrophobia that is appropriate to the grisly future setting. Cole becomes involved over the course of the movie with a doctor at the institution he is detained in, Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), a woman who slowly comes to realize that Cole isn't just a crazy person. While she slowly begins to believe that Cole is from the future however, Cole begins to have doubts about what is real and what is not, for a time believing that his trips to the future are merely an elaborate delusion. 

Drink from me and live forever.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Looper is very much a movie with the opposite philosophy about time travel and time in general, when compared to Twelve Monkeys. In Looper there is the constant changing of the future as events in the present shift. In Twelve Monkeys, you become increasingly aware that everything that Cole is "changing" is really just leading him towards the future that already exists. This leads to a sense of fatalism that permeates the movie, and the take home is that no matter how much you try to get out of the way of the future bus coming to run you over, ultimately you'll just be jumping into it's path.

Cheery right? Audiences in '95 thought so too, and Twelve Monkeys actually did quite well in the box office, grossing a total of 168 million dollars against its 29 million dollar budget. Critics were also very positive about it, citing the performances of Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt, along with the numerous plot twists (Which I won't spoil for you anymore) as positives. I was surprised to discover that the film was so successful upon its release, because it seems to be largely forgotten by history. That's a shame, because I feel this movie is a really thoughtful time travel science fiction piece, and if you are a fan of that genre you really need to see it. Even if you aren't, I recommend you give this movie a watch I think you will enjoy it anyway.

 That's it for today, join me again on Thursday, when I'll review another favorite of mine.
But he is noooo Brad. Not even Brad in Twelve Monkeys when he was
all dirty and had that crazy eye.

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