David BruceHere is a very down view of the future. The twelve monkey to goose chase and nothing can be done about the humanity destroying virus.  The apocalypse ends up being invevitable and it can't be stopped.
Review by David Bruce
pur_yel.gif (6906 bytes)
pur_yel.gif (6906 bytes)

This page was updated on May 17, 2005
Starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt.
Directed by Terry Gilliam.
Written by David Peoples and Janet Peoples.
Produced by Charles Roven.
A Universal release.
Rated R for violence and language.
Running time: 128 min.
12mon1.gif (51778 bytes)
   The movie begins in the year 2035. Most of the world has been killed by a virus that broke out in 1997. James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to find out what went wrong. There is a lot of religious symbolism at work.  J. C. (interesting initials) is brought forth and resurrected from his underground prison in a virus proof suit (sinless). He explores the post-apocalyptic earth where animals roam free.  As he enters a department store, doves fly over his head and a Christmas decoration angel "looks" down on him. An old newspaper article lets us know that the woes of the book of Revelation have happened.
12mon2.gif (40333 bytes)
   J. C. returns from his quests in time to give reports to the elders of his findings.  This scene is like the boy Jesus confounding the priests in the temple. J.C.'s big discovery is a mysterious group called the 12 monkeys (a significant biblical number). J.C.'s mission is to save the world by discovering the source of the virus (sin) which brought death to the whole world. The unfortunate message in this film , like so many other science fiction thrillers is, "I have seen the future, and it ain't good, so why save such a deplorable world?" Why, indeed? One would really need to love the world in the same sense as God does (John 3:16).
12mon3.gif (58378 bytes)

   Can Cole fulfill his mission and save the world?  J. Cole is sent back in time, but to the wrong year - 1990, a full six years before the apocalypse.  When he tells his story to the authorities, they naturally place him in a mental institution where he meets a canny inmate (Brad Pitt).  J.C. is aided by a nice doctor (Madeleine Stowe) who, also, gives lectures on Bible prophecy.

  Stowe travels with J.C. in a journey to Philadelphia where the virus originally broke out, to uncover all the information possible on a group known only as The Army of the Twelve Monkeys which, as it turns out, is headed by Brad Pitt. The city is filled with signs of the impending apocalypse including a dooms day prophet who preaches with a crucifix and Bible in hand.

   The film reflects the fears and concerns of our time.   Consider the link between this film's premise and the idea that the deadly AIDS virus somehow originated with monkeys (this was also refle film Outbreak).  

Ultimately, the film paints a bleak picture of the world's future.  The twelve monkeys turn out to be a wild goose chase and nothing can be done about the humanity destroying virus.  The apocalypse ends up being invevitable and can't be stopped (even by a guy named J.C. who had doves flying over his head).  

12monkeysama.gif (13372 bytes)


Subject: 12 monkey
Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002
From: ?

ive seen 12 monkeys 1 time then parts of another. the second time i saw it i notice there are pictures of Nas illmatic cd cover just after the seen with the bum fortune teller and also a picture of biggie smalls notorious big on the walls of the streets. Why was this in the movie or was it? Most of all I noticed in the scene where he ties up the people in store searching for the army of 12 monkeys if you look in the top left corner where there is a red writing or something red while hes moving the file cabinet there appears to be some sort of hanging or floating doll clown. look hard. Explain this to me. Why in the cover of the movie is the eye red???

Subject: 12 Monkeys
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000
From: Lowell Herlinger De Colores

WOW, Loved the Movie, it was also a Love Story that bridged time. Interesting, the Biblical reference is. I like it. Ever been on a Walk to Emmaus?, Tres Dias, Via De Cristos, Cursillos? Try it!.
Lowell Herlinger De Colores

October 6, 1999.
The message of hope in the film was that although JC could not change a rather bleak future (apocalypse is nasty business, not everyone gets to go to heaven and those who do, have to endure loads of crap), JC's mission, after all, is to not to prevent it from happening, but to obtain a sample so that a vaccine or treatment (salvation from sin) could be found. The movie deals with the various planes of reality and the future--just because JC serves his fate by dying at the end of the movie doesn't mean the movie has a negative message. You forget that although JC from the future dies, the 8 year-old JC lives on. Also, there is hope that the virus can be treated in the future, as shown in the end when the "insurance" lady (who is the same woman as the scientist from the future, come back to perhaps, salvage JC's mission) has/will succeed. There is a suggestion that she has obtained at least 1 or 2 samples of the red-haired apocalyptic nut's virus (note that when the nut was at the airport, the receptionist listed off about 9 or 10 of his destinations; compare that to the 7 locations JC previously memorized--ergo, there must have been at least 2 of his intended samples missing). Now how you interpret the ending as a religious statement is another matter....

July 25, 1999.
Yes, there's a christian level in 12 Monkeys but it is only the first level there's also a Hebrew and a greek and a Roman level but the best level of all it the egyptian level......the whole thing is an Osiris festival thats why he is sacrificed in the huge temple/airport at the end It's the first of the year and he is what makes the vegetation grow he brings the inundation...she is both hathor and Isis and Nut The father is Atum and Jefri is Khepri and also horus. You have to watch the film lots of times to find the clues he gives you By the way the whisper dude isnt calling him Bob, he's calling him Bab which means gate and also messenger. and in the dream the man isnt yelling Watch it! He's yelling Wadjet Wadjet is the eye of Re the sungod these are only a few of the hundreds of things that are under the surface I started out on the christian level too but after awhile realized it went further down than that...we are at the end of the world in 12 Monkeys but we are also at the beginning again thats why the animals are released the egyptian gods ere animal headed. email me if youre interested in more hieroglyphics help too. Lynn Gibson
My response: Wow! I sure missed a lot. I had no idea!   Actually, I am more interested in your cyber name "Auntilynn" You sound like an interesting person to know. Tell me more about yourself. Warmly, David Bruce

July 1, 1999.
Although 12 Monkeys could be interpreted as a film of doom (as your excellent article does) or a film of hope (as your correspondent does), I tend to favour the latter view. There is hope at the end with 'insurance' scientist appearing on the plane (presumably sent back from the future to find more about the virus and therefore return to the future to develop an antidote). If we interpret the film in this more positive way, I believe that he analogy of 'J.C.iis even more striki J.C. has saved the world, paying the ultimate redemptive price of his life. He is also left to be continually killed and resurrected through the younger version of himself at the airport. A truly Christ-like sacrifice!
--Dr Trystan Hughes, University of Wales, Bangor, UK

June 2, 1999.
I think that the religious interpretation is stretching it a little, but I still really liked the movie. It was thought provoking, well acted, and just plain well done. 12 Monkeys was a very good movie, IMO

May 21, 1999.
The biblical theme is not the only mythology to be found in 12 Monkeys. Cole embodies Cassandra (a prophet cursed by Apollo to reveal the future but be disbelieved), Janus (the Roman god of beginnings and endings, comings and goings, and gateways), and the monkey of Eastern mythology (in two roles: one as the Monkey god who travels to India to rescue Buddhist scripture, and as Hanhuman the Hindu god of service). The Pitt character can also be seen in the story behind the ordering of animals in the Chinese Zodiac - the crafty monkey uses the other animals for his own advancement. This is a rich movie and you should present all of the themes.

May 19,1999.

Yes, I also like the biblical interpretation, but that is the unseen story. It's a very basic movie, with a very basic plot if you watch it carfully. I know at the end it seems weird, but all it is saying is that the virus is going to be stopped. Remember when J.C. was in the car with Stowe? He siad "Those are my notes, when I have enough information, they'll send a scientist back to stop the virus." Well, after he died, and the man with the virus is on the plane, lo and behold, a scientist was beside him! And it was a little ironic that she was into "insurance."  So I think that even with all the symbolism, it was at the same time a damn good movie with a simple plot.

Feb 4, 1999.
I don't particularly accept the religious interpretation you've presented here but I can see what you mean. BTW, the movie  "Outbreak" dealt with the Ebola virus -- not AIDS -- and the theory that it might be spread by monkeys.
My response:
Yes, Maria, Ebola. I believe I wrote "AIDS-like" not "AIDS."  What I had in mind was that AIDS was also traced to apes.

Jan 4, 1999.
I loved the movie 12 Monkeys, for one it had Brad Pitt in it (oooooh!) and my favourite actor Bruce Willis. Also it had a mystery about took me a few times watching it to understand but i loved it every time!! Jenn

12 Monkeys  © Universal Pictures. All rights reserved.