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Twelve Monkeys
dir. Terry Gilliam / USA 1995 / 129’
subtitles: Polish


Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, Jon Seda, Christopher Plummer, Michael Chance, Vernon Campbell, Frederic Strother, Frank Gorshin, Simon Jones


Golden Globes 1996 – Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture; Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA 1996 – Saturn Award for Best Costumes, Best Science Fiction Film, Best Supporting Actor

Film description

Twelve Monkeys rates as one of the most original science fiction movies in the history of cinema. The year is 2035. The remaining survivors of an apocalyptic epidemic disease now live in underground bunkers. In the hopes of finding a cure, James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent to the past to gather information on the virus that was at the origin of the deadly epidemic. But the disaster cannot be reversed; what happened cannot be undone. The script, by Janet and David Peoples (who also wrote Blade Runner and Unforgiven), focuses not on universal human questions, but rather on Cole’s individual struggles. As he contends with living in several time periods simultaneously, Cole begins to doubt the reality of his experiences – at one point, he finds relief in the idea it may all be the product of psychiatric illness. Gilliam cast Bruce Willis as his main protagonist, but not before giving him a list of ‘Willis acting clichés’ which he forbade the actor from using during filming for the movie. Madeleine Stowe partners Willis in the role of his psychiatrist, while Brad Pitt plays an unstable environmental activist. Twelve Monkeys makes explicit references to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo and the script was heavily inspired by the 1962 new-wave short film La Jetée by Chris Marker, although Gilliam has said that he had not seen it before filming what is certainly one of his masterpieces.

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