Thursday 14 July 2011

12 Monkeys [1995]

Terry Gilliam is renowned for his incredible sci-fi satire Brazil. 12 Monkeys, though not of the same caliber, nonetheless remains a competent sci-fi set in a dystopian timeframe. A dark and intense examination of the meaning of “madness” and how its definition varies from person to person, the movie is about time-traveller James Cole (Bruce Willis), a prisoner in the future, being sent to the past to unravel the origin of and possibly thwart the virus attack that has wiped out nearly the entire humanity. Upon his journey to past he befriends a sympathetic psychiatrist (Madeleine Stowe) who, initially reluctantly and later willingly, becomes his only ally, and also the mad, rabble-rousing son (Brad Pitt) of a world-famous biochemist. The film delivers the goods in creating an atmosphere that is filled to its brim with grime and grunge, which in turns helps in holding our attention despite the plot not being its biggest strength. Bruce Willis, as the time-traveller on the verge of insanity and perpetually plagued by a sense of déjà vu (through his recurring dreams), gave a solid performance, as did the beautiful Madeleine Stowe; the show however was befittingly stolen by Brad Pitt for his gleefully over-the-top supporting turn. Though not a great film per se, over the years it has managed to gain considerable cult following.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Genre: Thriller/Sci-Fi
Language: English
Country: US


blake said...

I loved this movie. And some how, I always forget it's a Terry Gilliam movie... I'm not sure why.

Shubhajit said...

Maybe because it is ultra-serious & intense, instead of being satirical or darkly comic :)

Sam Juliano said...

This is far from a 'great' film, as you note late in this sterling capsule, but I'll agree with you that it's memorable, and has developed a cult following. It's a genre piece that overlaps into serious themes, like the one on madeness you well dissect here. I do believe it spawned other features with the dystopian theme as well.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. The dangerously thin line between sanity and madness was very well probed by the film. Yes, though a genre film, the ambiguities presented and especially the open ending sure added depths to the film.

Chris said...

I think I rate 12 monkeys higher than you do, the haunting music, the atmosphere, as you say the powerful ending about fate/free will. I couldn't find much to fault really.
I didn't notice the plot being weak, I'm probably one of the cult followers who is blind to the flaws ( :

Shubhajit said...

Well, I do recognize the fact that 12 Monkeys has considerable followers and enjoys a cult status among them. Not that I disliked the movie, but as of now I don't considerable myself among that group; but who knows, a couple of viewings hence I might as well join you :)