Thoughts on 12 Monkeys

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Eric Walsh, Feb 27, 2002.

  1. Eric Walsh

    Eric Walsh Stunt Coordinator

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    Hello. I am planning on writing a non-conventional paper on 12 monkeys and came here to gain numerous insights from my fellow HTF members. I am looking for any comments you have about the film, but specifically ones dealing with 12 Monkeys compared with other time travel films and also the depiction of the future in 12 Monkeys. Leave your names...so I can quote you if I see fit. Thanks so much for your help in this matter. It should be a fun task for me as long as I get a lot of support here on the site, and well if not then the paper will be full of only my ideas about the film and I don't want that to happen again. I am sick of talking about what I think. [​IMG]
    Oh and by the way, even though this is a non-conventional paper please try to keep your comments on topic and with a level of seriousness.
    Thanks so much!
    -Eric
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Forgive me for offering a "conventional" notion -- it's called research. In the modern age, electronic methods have made this much easier than it used to be. For example, the search function at HTF. Run a search on "monkeys", and you get this thread, which has extensive discussion of 12 Monkeys (interspersed with discussion of other films). And you don't even have to wait for replies!
    Research. Great tool. [​IMG]
    M.
     
  3. Eric Walsh

    Eric Walsh Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael,

    I was aware of that thread....I actually posted a view comments there myself......however I would like to get some fresh comments that I can specifically use on my paper. I am also concerned with the effect of the movie rather than the plot points and what actually occurs in 12 Monkeys. That is why I am asking what people think about the depiction of the future and also to compare 12 monkeys to other time travel films.

    -Eric
     
  4. Iain Jackson

    Iain Jackson Second Unit

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    I would say that the main distinction between 12 Monkeys and other time travel films is that it seriously considers the potential risks to mental health. If a person where constantly moving back and forth between the present and a time 30 years from now (backwards or forwards), they would surely experience extreme disorientation, confusion and possible panic attacks. This is accurately portrayed in the film (thanks in no small part to Bruce Willis' excellent performance) and makes the viewer think more about the real implications of time travel.

    Another factor that sets this film apart from other time travel movies is that they are not trying to change the future - here, the past is set in stone and will always be so (despite a last ditch attempt in vain from Bruce Willis' character). This to me is a much more plausible concept than in films such as the Terminator and its sequel, where the future is constantly being changed by events in the present - these films ultimately get lost in a vortex of complicated, mind-bending time loops that only become more confusing the more you think of them.

    In summary, 12 Monkeys is a different sort of time travel film, with a refreshingly realistic scenario, and easily one of the most important science-fiction films of recent years.
     
  5. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    In light of Michael Reuben's unnecessary sarcasm, I would like to add: "there are twelve? I thought there are 13 altogether"
     
  6. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    There is a nice text essay on time travel as depicted in films and literature with the MGM Terminator special edition.

    Regards,
     
  7. brianacook

    brianacook Stunt Coordinator

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    eric,

    i know you didn't want this thread to degenerate into a discussion, but i had to comment on iain's post.

    while it is true that there is no intent to alter the present by returning to the past, people have theorized that by sending cole back to before the virus was released, his presence actually allowed for the release of the virus. specifically, dr railly calling goines' father to warn him about his son and goines putting his associate in charge of security, thus allowing him access to the virus.

    all speculation of course.

    now for your actual questions. as for the movie's depiction of the future, that is tough to gauge, being that it is a future when a large portion of humanity has been obliterated by a virus.

    also of possible interest is the fact that their method of time travel is not very accurate. or as they say in the movie "science isn't always an exact science" or something like that.

    brian
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    OK, Eric, you're obviously a better researcher than I am! [​IMG]
    M.
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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  10. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    Comparing to other time travel films. Well, I'd say its soley based on what your perception of time travel involves.
    Are you of the opinion that time traveling is harsh and disruptive to the human body, or other physical things, as shown in TimeCop, Terminator, 7 Days, Back to the Future, Star Trek. These can also be split into Methods which require speed, to devices that some how split the fabric of time.
    or
    Are you of the belief that time travel is magical, as shown in Time Bandits, or that comedy with Jean Reno as the Knight that goes back in time with the aid of the Wizard.
    Or
    Is time travel a simple process of being injected or drinkning some sort of fluid. I'm trying to think how 12 Monkeys acomplished time travel. I though they gave him an Injection.
    Or take the Simpsons. Homer makes the toaster which send him back and forth through time.[​IMG]
     
  11. Anthony Hom

    Anthony Hom Supporting Actor

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    What I found striking about 12 Monkeys was how much the focus was on the past and the fact that they stressed that events could not be changed. This was emphasized by the dream Cole had leading up to the witnessing his own death seen by his eyes as a child. There is little discussion abou the future in this film, nor do we see any results of his "past" trips have any effects on the future. That is a total mystery up to the end. and It brings up the question, can the future be changed? It almost seems like the answer is no, but that's up to your interpretation of 12 Monkeys.

    Almost every other time travel film deals with a wish to change history and bring up a happy ending (BTTF, Terminator, Star Trek IV, Time Cop, Freejack, Somewhere in Time) or comedies (Bill and Ted, Time Bandits) usually involve fish out of water stories.

    12 Monkeys states clearly that the past cannot be changed, but the ultimate goal of the past trips is to change the future, but even in the end it looks impossible.

    PS. I like the method of time communication, using the phone number for the carpet cleaners and the answering machine recording.
     
  12. Ralph Summa

    Ralph Summa Supporting Actor

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  13. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

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    Bill-

    As I recall there is some kind of time machine in 12 Monkeys. It's basically a small hole in a large reactor-looking device (in reality it was the boiler at an abandoned power plant outside Philly, redecorated by the production designer). Cole gets strapped on a gurney and gets thrown in, there's a strange effect like light shinning throud helicopter roters and then he finds himself in the past.

    One of the great things about 12 Monkeys is how it's entirely possible that Cole isn't a time traveler at all, he really might be a nut like the opening message suggests. In fact it would seem that the only objective evidence that he is from the future are his miraculous escape in 1990 (but he could have just been an escape artist like Houdini), the radio story of the kid trapped in the well (could easily have been a lucky guess since the boy who cried wolf is so ingrained in our culture) and the "insurance" woman on the plane at the end (could just be a coincidence, she really might be in insurance). Actually if you watch the "Hamster Factor" documentary on the DVD or LD you see that Gilliam was rather reluctant to include the scene on the plane at the end since it thought audiences might think that it proved that Cole was really from the future.

    The rest of the evidence, including the future world itself is only seen through Cole's perspective and therefore could just be part of his deluded nature. And having dreams about his own death could just be a premonition or some kind of precognition.

    And then again he could really be a time-traveler....

    - Guy
     
  14. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    Anthony - True, no matter what mistakes he thinks he makes or have been made the future remains the same. This would not only mean that the future can't be changed but that things like Destiny do exist because the is a fixed time line that is followed. "All The Worlds a Stage" and such.

    Or

    Maybe what he was showing was that by changing the past does alter the furute but you really wouldn't know because to you it would be reality. Your perception of what happened in one time line to what is happening in the alternate time line would be non existant, you only perceive what is happening now based on what happened in the past. So it would seem like the future never changed.

    I was playing golf yesterday and If I hadn't had a double bougie I would have been 1 over par. I said this to my buddy and he said you just would have screwed up somewhere else if you hadn't screwed up there.
     
  15. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    ooops sorry forgot the topic:b
     
  16. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Why are you so sure the outcome was not changed?

    Didn't the lady "juge" appear next to the bad guy in the plane? The lady who says "I am in insurance". I thought that was the whole point of that phrase.

    --

    Holadem
     
  17. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Holadem,

    The lady was there to get a pure sample from which a vaccine can be developed in the future. She understood that it was impossible to prevent the outbreak but that her own future was not yet determined. That was the premise of Bruce Willis' mission in the film from the beginning

    Regards,
     
  18. Patrick Barrett

    Patrick Barrett Auditioning

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    Personally, I loved this movie.
    But there was one flaw in it, but time travel movies can rarely avoid these.
    When they play the distorted tape for Cole, those events haven't transpired for him yet, but they have the tape already because for them its the past.
    Later, a second call to the future is made in which Cole says they got it all wrong about the 12 monkeys and then there is a reaction to this call by the guy coming back to make sure he finishes the job.
    Well, going by the time travel logic of the first call, they should have had both phone calls because its not a requirement for the event to have actually transpire yet as far as Cole is concerned, just that it's going to happen.
    But this changes with the second call in that they only have this information when Cole actually does it.
    That make sense? I explained this to a couple of friends and they said I think too much about movies. [​IMG]
     
  19. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    Eric,
    There's a member on the HTF who has quite an insightful and thoroughly thought-out theory on the movie but I haven't seen him around in awhile. Has anyone seen Holden Pike lately? I recall him responding to one of these 12 Monkeys threads with his theory...or, I think it was him. Anyhow, if you can get in touch with him (or if he sees this thread and decides to respond) he'll give you some good ideas on the movie. As for me, at times I agree with one explanation then decide that it's not ood enough and come up with another...ahhh, headaches.
     

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