Review: 12 Monkeys screening brings back classic


On Tuesday the DePauw Film Studies Series held a screening for the 1995 science fiction classic "12 Monkeys."

The film, which is based off of Chris Marker’s influential 1962 short film "La Jetée," is about a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future. Makeshift scientists conduct experiments in time, sending “volunteers” into the past to collect clues about a secret army called “The Army of the 12 Monkeys.”  They must try and stop a deadly virus from being released into civilization and killing five billion people.

The film, starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt, and expertly directed by Terry Gilliam, is doomed for a “no hope” storyline from the beginning scenes: A desolate, post-apocalyptic Baltimore; looking through the eyes of a young boy watching somebody get shot in an airport; and Bruce Willis waking up in cold sweats in an underground facility resembling a Russian gulag.

Throughout the movie, there are references to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film "Vertigo," as well as many references to monkeys, whether about animal rights, drug testing, or just common sayings and insults.

The main influence of "La Jetée" was very prevalent. I was relieved to see that the script stuck to many of the ideas and the overarching plot of the short film, and just expanded on the story.

The original story, which spans about half an hour, is just a collection of photos that were strung together to create a photo roman (a photo novel). It tells the story of a man who is obsessed with an image from his childhood, and also falls in love with a woman from the past. Overall, it is widely considered one of the best short films created.

The acting in "12 Monkeys" is phenomenal, especially the performance given by Brad Pitt, who won a Golden Globe and received an Academy Award nomination for the role. This performance, along with his role in the movie “Se7en,” which released in the same year, boosted him up to A-list level.

Bruce Willis gave a great performance as well, with a cool and stoic demeanor on par with the character’s psyche.

Madeleine Stowe also gave a great performance as the abducted psychiatrist who develops Stockholm Syndrome, and falls in love with the man from the future.

The movie explores many themes, such as the trustworthiness and creation of memories, insanity, time travel, human progress in the sciences and how science can get away from humans. This is a movie worthy of its title as a “sci-fi cult classic”.

The Film Studies Series will be showing another movie on Sept. 23 with "Winter’s Bone," staring Jennifer Lawrence in her first major film role. Later in the semester, they will be showing "The Shining," "Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Act of Killing."