“12 MONKEYS”— The Future is History

“12 Monkeys”

The Future is History

Amos Lassen

In 1996, a deadly virus was unleashed by a group calling themselves the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. The virus destroyed much of the world’s population and forced survivors underground. In 2035, prisoner James Cole (Bruce Willis) is chosen to go back in time and help scientists in their search for a cure.

The film features an Oscar-nominated performance by Brad Pitt as mental patient Jeffrey Goines and the film is now widely regarded as a sci-fi classic. Arrow Films has given it a stunning new restoration.

A killer virus spared only 1 percent of the planet’s population. In a lab located under the city of Philadelphia, scientists prepare to wrap the naked Cole in condomlike latex and zap him back to 1996 to find out how to reclaim the earth. Above ground the city is uninhabitable, except by the wild animals that roam deserted skyscrapers and department stores.

When Cole travels back in time, he is immediately institutionalized and put in the care of psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). Cole is befriended by patient, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), an animal activist and the loony son of a medical researcher (Christopher Plummer). Through Jeffrey, Cole first learns about the army of the 12 Monkeys. It would be unfair to give away more, except to say that the plot kicks in when Cole kidnaps Kathryn. Cole is haunted by a recurring dream of a young boy at an airport. The boy stands transfixed as a man with a suitcase rushes past him, followed by a blond woman who weeps by the man’s side after the police gun him down.

The tenderness and sweetness of the woman as she kisses the dying man’s bloody hand deeply affects Cole and the boy. This dream is the soul of the film and director Terry Gilliam returns to it three times, adding more details until the dream links all the pieces in the puzzle, which includes the remarkable David Morse as a researcher with more than a passing interest in Kathryn. Cole’s confusing of illusion and reality is also a major component of the film. Gilliam digs deep into fatalistic themes that usually scare people away from the box office.

This is a confounding dark sci-fi film about a virus in 1996 that kills five billion people, sparing only 1 percent of the planet’s population. When Cole travels back in time, he misses the targeted year of 1996 and instead lands in 1990. Cole suspects that a group in spreading the virus and needs Kathryn’s help to track down that former animal activist patient and the crazed son of a medical researcher (Christopher Plummer), whose virus experiments on lab creatures drive animal activist Jeffrey into a fit of anger. Jeffrey’s group is suspected of being behind the disaster, and Cole believes his best chance for success is to force Kathryn to help him find Jeffrey. But as Kathryn starts to believe what Cole says is true about the deadly virus and helps him prevent the future mishap, Cole realizes his lunacy might actually be what ended up causing the catastrophe in the first place. The recurring dream Cole has links all the mysteries taking place about the scientific research and his special interest in Kathryn. Cole finally returns to 1996 and acts to complete his mission. This is an intense film about psychological biological warfare film has fine performances and it is a film that makes the viewer think.

TWELVE MONKEYS, Madeleine Stowe, 1995. ©Universal


Brand-new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam

DTS 5.1 Master Audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven

The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)

Extensive image gallery

Theatrical trailer

More to be announced!

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials

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