Twelve Monkeys (1995)

USA, 1995
129m, 3548 metres
35mm film, Rankcolor, 1.85:1
DTS-Stereo, DTS, Dolby SR, English

An American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam.

Plot Summary

A virus wipes out five billion people in 1996, leaving just 1% of the population to struggle to survive underground. In 2035, convict James Cole volunteers for a project to find the cause of the virus – a project that will involve him being sent back in time to 1996 to explore the few clues that remain as to the mystery viruses origins. All he knows is that it was spread by the equally mysterious Army of the Twelve Monkeys. But the experiment goes wrong and Cole ends up in a psychiatric hospital in 1990 where he is cared for by Dr Kathryn Railly and where he meets Jeffrey Goines, the raving son of a famous scientist and expert on viruses…


Directed by: Terry Gilliam
© 1995 Universal City Studios, Inc.
Polygram Filmes Entertainment and Universal Pictures present an Atlas Entertainment production. A Terry Gilliam film
Executive Producers: Robert Cavallo, Gary Levinsohn, Robert Kosberg
Produced by: Charles Roven
Screenplay by: David Peoples & Janet Peoples
Inspired by the film ‘La Jetée‘ written by: Chris Marker
Poet: Omar Khayyam
Director of Photography: Roger Pratt
Film Editor: Mick Audsley
Music Composer & Conductor: Paul Buckmaster
Sound Mixer: Jay Meagher
Costume Designer: Julie Weiss
Make-Up and Hair Designer: Christine Beveridge
Visual Effects Supervisor: Kent Houston
Production Designer: Jeffrey Beecroft

Bruce Willis (James Cole)
Madeleine Stowe (Kathryn Railly)
Brad Pitt (Jeffrey Goines)
Christopher Plummer (Dr Goines)
Frank Gorshin (Dr Fletcher)
Jon Seda (Jose)
Ernest Abuba (engineer)
Bill Raymond (microbiologist)
Simon Jones (zoologist)
Bob Adrian (geologist)
Carol Florence (astrophysicist)
H. Michael Walls (botanist)
Joseph Melito (young Cole)
Michael Chance (Scarface)
Vernon Campbell (Tiny)
Irma St. Paule (poet)
Joey Perillo (Detective Franki)

Alternative Titles

12 apinaa – Finland
12 Macacos – Portugal
12 majom – Hungary
12 Monkeys – Austria, Germany
12 monos – Mexico
12 opic – Slovenia
12 singes – Canada (French)
Armata celor 12 maimute – Romania
L’armée des 12 singes – France
Doce monos – Venezuela
Dwanascie malp – Poland
L’esercito delle dodici scimmie – Italy
De tolv apornas armé – Sweden
Twelve monkeys: doce monos – Spain

Remake of
La Jetée (1962)

Includes extracts from
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Birds (1963)
Prehistoric Super Salesman (1969)
Swing Shift Cinderella (1945)
Vertigo (1958)
Who Killed Who? (1943)

See also
The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys (1997)


What’s On in London 17 April 1996 p.33
[A] mind-bogglingly imaginative big-budget extravaganza, cinema on an epic scale. But Gilliam’s work is also something of an acquired taste, and cinema-goers none too enthralled by the nightmarish futuristic visions and time-travel of his earlier work are also advised to avoid this one. […] [Bruce] Willis, now finding a new post-Die Hard career direction, gives a striking performance as the confused, troubled and vulnerable Cole. And although Stowe is saddled with the straight doctor’s role while everyone else around her acts crazy, she is a classic movie heroine that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hitchcock movie – a quality emphasised by a late blonde transformation. But although Twelve Monkeys certainly grips the imagination with its circular narrative, numerous time-shifts and a significant red herring, it doesn’t succeed in engaging the emotions; it’s so calculatedly and self-consciously bizarre that it defies us to empathise with its characters. – from a review by David Clark

Evening Standard 18 April 1996 pp.26-27
Let’s face it, Terry Gilliam’s new SF thriller is a mess. When you monkey around with the future, send folk on trips back in time to sort out what went wrong and set it right, you’d better be logical, clear-headed, to the point and, if possible, original. Twelve Monkeys is none of these. It’s confused, overwrought, illogical and derivative. Far too much is going on inside Gilliam’s head, little of it original. […] Willis is good for a bit of rage now and then. But mostly he goes through the story in the opposite mode, virtually comatose, frequently naked, entirely bald and periodically slobbering like an incontinent baby. […] While the two stars are indulged in their over-the-top, over-long acts, the story stalls. Its opening sequences have been good: a vision of a frozen metropolis where survivors live underground, grizzly bears roam streets and lions prowl rooftops. But the intriguing premise isn’t followed through to any purpose. It’s window dressing for an empty store. […] Even allowing it’s a fantasy, you keep questioning the whys, hows and wherefores of it all. Why doesn’t he simply destroy the virus? How come he can make a phone call to the future? Why don’t the folk in 2032 time-trip back to some earlier, safer age and start life over again? […] Gilliam acknowledges his inspirational debt to a 1962 short called La Jetee by the French New Wave film-maker Chris Marker. Consisting almost entirely of black and white stills, it ran 27 minutes: its “story” was a time capsule about nuclear angst and a tribute to the virtues of precision and compression. Twelve Monkeys has no such virtues. […] Gilliam turns the last couple of reels into a homage to Hitchcock, using clips from Vertigo and its theme of nostalgic loss to infuse his own fantasy with a little of the master’s romantic melancholy. The change of key from the time-warp to the love-lorn does not work. It simply reminds us the trouble a film-maker is in when he has to send an SOS to the past so as to make good the deficiencies of his present. – from a review (Bruce’s monkey business) by Alexander Walker

Financial Times 18 April 1996 p.15
In the matter of monkeys and typewriters, I have never believed the “Complete Works of Shakespeare” theory. Sit an infinite number of simians at an infinite number of Remingtons and you will more likely end up with Twelve Monkeys the movie script. This is a film of connoisseur insanity. It is monkeyish enough to base a Hollywood sci-fi epic on a French experimental short: Chris Marker’s La Jetee, a virus-destroys-the-world yarn composed as a montage of still photos. For a richer daftness you then hire director Terry Gilliam, the Python graduate who beggared Columbia with Baron Munchhausen; genre-hopping screenwriter David Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven); and star Bruce Willis, who bares his bottom so often in the early scenes, under pretext of taking showers, that we suspect he is determined to prove that he at least is no baboon. Co-star Brad Pitt is another story and seems to be starring in one. His hunched, gibbering, finger-jabbing, characterisation, which inevitably resulted in a best supporting actor Oscar nomination, is Jerry Lewis to Willis’s Dean Martin or possibly Cheetah to his Tarzan. […] Just as owners come to resemble their pets, some nightmare-in-time movies become nightmares in time. As in Brazil Gilliam summons the combined shades of Heath Robinson and Hieronymus Bosch to create his dystopic futureworld, all bric-a-brac and leering wide-angle lenses. And the present-day plot sprawls every which way, making us nearly weep at the time wasted on fatuous, toujours Tinseltown chases when so little is spent on making the characters human and engaging. “I want the future to be unknown, I want this to be the present…” murmurs a moved Willis in one too brief love duet, ushering in a whole new dimension of the heart and mind. Then it is back to the crashes, bangs and eyeblowing visuals, with only some late clips from Vertigo to remind us what a true master can do with the gimmick-free handling of time, memory and illusion. – from a review by Nigel Andrews

The Guardian Section 2 18 April 1996 pp.2-3
The plot is over-complicated, but that doesn’t mean the film’s a failure, largely because we never quite know, and neither does the convict, how much is imagination and how much is reality. The film’s chief glory lies in the fecundity of its visual invention, using the older buildings of Philadelphia and Baltimore to suggest a dying civilisation above ground and an extraordinary sub-world underground where grinding, Heath Robinson machinery keeps alive the faceless, tyrannical people familiar from Gilliam’s Brazil. There is hardly a moment that doesn’t display the film-maker’s sense of a world out of kilter, ruled by despots far worse than Willis’ flawed hero and Pitt’s psychotic help-meet. “I’ve got this eye that demands feeding,” Gilliam has said. Whatever you think of Twelve Monkeys, you have to admit that he feeds our eyes too: this is a commercial movie with art-house trappings. – from a review (Monkey business) by Derek Malcolm

The Independent Section 2 18 April 1996 p.14
Like many films in the past 10 years or so, 12 Monkeys lives in the shadow of the first Terminator, with its handling of time paradoxes, its narrative elegance and pessimistic excitement. […] The screenwriters, David and Janet Peoples, have come up with much that is Gilliam-esque for their director. This sounds like a good thing to do but it may be where the problems begin. A director who is doing things characteristic of himself may not make the effort to surpass himself – as Gilliam did on Brazil, where every element of design and performance was memorably coordinated. Gilliam has done a visually overwhelming retro-futurist hell before (in Brazil, in fact), and it does not count as a breakthrough to make the colour scheme less filing-cabinet green and more liver and mucous. He’s done crazy street people who may be possessed of secret knowledge before, on The Fisher King. Visual quotes from your best work are forgivable but it’s sad when an impressive moment in a new film – the camera pulling rapidly back to show the sheer scale of an interrogation space – recalls a greater one from the past: Brazil‘s shot of the torture chamber revealed to be on a gantry inside an immense gasometer. […] A peculiarity of 12 Monkeys within its category of film is that it insists from the beginning that the future cannot be prevented, and doesn’t waver. This sounds like a stoical and mature attitude, but what it may actually be is reneging on the base assumption of the genre. American culture is so firmly built on the primacy of second chances that the right to a fresh start might just as well have been included in the Constitution (which is what makes the heretical world of film noir so intoxicating). What audiences want from a time-travel movie is what it gets in exemplary form from the second Terminator film: to be told again and again that the future is fixed, and then to be granted a last reel saying it doesn’t have to be so. In this respect in their understanding of how the genre works, Saturday night audiences know more than the makers of 12 Monkeys. – from an illustrated review (Who gives a monkey?) by Adam Mars-Jones

The Times18 April 1996 p.14
No one expects any Gilliam film to walk a straight line. But the criss-crossing time frames, mood swings and irrelevances in this script – inspired by Chris Marker’s 1962 sci-fi short La Jetee – make the going more difficult than usual. Gilliam’s directorial manner wreaks its own damage. He is one of the few film-makers around with a “vision”, and the absurd chaos of Twelve Monkeys is of a piece with the worlds of Brazil and The Fisher King. His films never grow organically. One sequence, designed with breathtaking panache, is piled on top of another, and the tower topples over. Like some Gothic architects, Gilliam does not know when to stop. One instance: having allowed Pitt horrible freedom to chew the scenery, acting mad with gesticulating hands, he then shoots the asylum scenes through a distorting camera lens. Luckily, other performers keep their heads. Willis’s unheroic, vulnerable role may bemuse Die Hard fans, but the man deserves praise for tackling adventurous material. As always, Stowe is fascinating to watch – feisty, vulnerable, elegant and earthy all at once – although you never feel the flumes of romance flicker between the two stars. You never, in fact, feel much for the characters at all: partly because you can barely spot them among the garbage, graffiti, time jumps and surreal clutter. Gilliam hopes his film will give audiences the thrill of seeing something new. If spectacle were all we might well be thrilled; bui if we want a film with a sense of purpose, control and a human heart, we must look elsewhere. – from a review (Something completely over the top) by Geoff Brown

The Daily Mail 19 April 1996 p.44
After a needlessly confusing first half hour, Twelve Monkeys develops into an intriguing mystery. Had it been paced more like a thriller and ended after 90 minutes, it might have been a sci-fi classic. Unfortunately, the screenplay by David Peoples (who wrote Blade Runner) and his wife Janet rambles on for two hours ten minutes without enlarging much upon its themes. Even the rules of time travel are left unclear and the twist ending leaves the audience none the wiser about what motivates the villain, beyond a crazed determination to murder lots and lots of people. Willis staggers and mumbles through the proceedings as though suffering from the world’s most disastrous hangover. This, together with his incompetence as a spy, makes it impossible to understand why his bosses ever chose him for a mission requiring delicacy and the capacity to remain undetected. Willis manages a few touching moments as he blunders through the Nineties savouring things which will soon be lost for ever, such as Fats Domino singing Blueberry Hill (though it’s hard to know why – don’t they have tapes or CDs underground?). But his character fails to deepen and the screenplay never makes us care about him in the way we could for previous Gilliam heroes, such as Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King or even Jonathan Pryce in Brazil. Stowe has little to do but react intelligently, then fall – rather less intelligently – for Willis’s far-from-obvious charms. Pitt’s bug-eyed twitching and manic fidgeting was a well enough observed study of neurosis to win him an Oscar nomination, but the role never rises above the one-dimensional. […] Gilliam is unlucky that two recent movies, Underground and Jumanji, also portrayed city streets invaded by wild animals; but his offbeat imagination and inventive camera angles are a cut above the competition. Twelve Monkeys is a memorable visual achievement and much of it has the intensity of a very, very bad dream. It’s enjoyable as an eccentric, poetic film with unsettling images. Yet it’s also frustrating – for with a little more thematic development and human content this could have been a great movie, instead of just an unusual and interesting one. – from an illustrated review (It’s a monkey puzzle) by Christopher Tookey

The Daily Telegraph 19 April 1996 p.19
The future and the past are familiar territories, often welded together ino a weird amalgam, as in Brazil (1985), where the future looked to have been furnished by a thrift shop. It is the present that is a foreign country. […] [T]he more times change in Gilliam’s work, the more his vision stays the same: a riot of Gothic art direction and chilly impersonality, both strange and estranged. It is not our age that he is out of tune with, but the world. […] Willis, in a rare acting – as opposed to starring – role, is modestly accomplished. He abandons the repertoire of smirks, winces and grimaces with which he ensured his Die Hardship, for a simpler, more vulnerable style of acting. With his shaven head, stamped on one temple with a bar code, misery-clenched face, and lumbering, weary walk, he resembles a Dickensian convict – a Magwitch of the millennium. Best of all, he never courts sympathy, always leaving open the question of his sanity. We’re unsure whether he’s a beefcake or a fruitcake. Which is more than can be said for Brad Pitt, playing another of the mental asylum’s inmates, later leader of the animal rights militia, the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. Pitt might as well be wearing a banner saying: Stark Raving Nuts. This must be one of the worst performances ever to be nominated for an Oscar (Best Supporting Actor). Pitt’s jerkily unreal movements and garbled lines suggest a collaboration between Tourette’s Syndrome and the Marx Brothers. Like everyone else, he is outshone by Madeleine Stowe’s luminously intelligent and sympathetic psychiatrist. […] As ever, [Gilliam] has conjured up visual marvels. The apparatus of time travel – the rubber suit Willis hauls himself into, the network of tubes and dials, the juddering motion – is wonderfully evoked. […] But even the most magnificent images pall when allied to inadequate storytelling. For a former member of Monty Python, Gilliam has terrible timing. His inability to edit incisively results in a narrative which sags into tedium. There is a moment which gives the game away, when Willis and Stowe stop in a cinema and watch a scene from Hitchcock’s Vertigo: for a few seconds we are thrust into a world of mesmerising unease that Gilliam is incapable of matching. A baffled spectator came up to me after the film to ask: “What’s it all about?” Good question. Gilliam has nothing to say. He’s not so much a director as an art director. – from a review by Quentin Curtis

The Independent Section 2 26 April 1996 p.7
It hasn’t happened in such a long time that I think I’d actually forgotten that it could occur. But there I was, sitting in my seat, watching Twelve Monkeys and watching the audience, acutely aware that the people around me were concentrating. You know: that hushed, collective stillness that borders on tension. Or maybe you don’t know. The Hollywood blockbuster that does it all for you, every plot point spelt out in neon and then repeated, the relentless pace, action and broad humour demanding surrender, not negotiation, has conditioned the global market to lie back and enjoy it. It demands that you be as empty as its formula, and its formula has been dominant for the better part of two decades – a long time to be cinematically comatose. So what makes Twelve Monkeys different? I’m none too sure. Many reviews have accused Terry Gilliam’s time-travelling black comedy of being needlessly complex in structure, or just plain confusing, which simply isn’t true, and may say more about how formula has corrupted even the “professionals”, inadvertently exposing a reflex laziness. It could be that reading those reviews has put the punters in a certain frame of mind: better pay close attention. But what’s astonishing is that the coverage hasn’t turned the public off. Rather the opposite, if that hushed stillness means anything at all; they appear hungry for involvement in narrative, in character, in puzzles, in the unexpected, and in old-fashioned drama. I think it means that the masses aren’t brain-dead. Or at least, not as brain-dead as the men who run the studios. – from an illustrated review by John Little

The Mail on Sunday Night and Day 21 April 1996 p.31
Is it a prescient warning to the world about viral warfare? Possibly. Might the Willis character have emerged from a giant head, only to be crushed at the last moment by a giant foot? Again, possibly. I came out feeling strangely satisfied, although I wasn’t quite sure what about. – from a review (Apes of wrath) by William Leith

The Observer Review 21 April 1996 p.11
Gilliam’s exciting, if overlong, Twelve Monkeys is another time-travelling thriller in the familiar manner of The Terminator. […] As always, Gilliam makes the everyday present seem bizarre and the fantastic future appear plausible, and at the centre of David and Janet Peoples’ script is a fascinating idea. Dr Railly convinces Cole that he is the delusional creator of a substitute reality . Meanwhile, with a sort of intellectual counterpoint, Cole has convinced her that he is an authentic time-traveller. Hiding from the police in a cinema, they see a Hitchcock double-bill of Vertigo, which prefigures their own relationship, and The Birds, which anticipates a world where the animals will take over from the humans. The cinema has much to teach us. – from a review by Philip French

The Sunday Express 21 April 1996 p.65
Terry Gilliam’s latest film, is a mad and original work from the man whose oeuvre includes those puking heads and stamping feet that filled the gaps between the Pythons’ sketches. […] This extraordinary and tortuous muddle is more perambulator than Terminator. What on earth is it about? Its vision of the future is too bizarre to be taken literally, as are the contemporary eco-terrorists. Perhaps it is an allegory about the madness of love? The affair between Cole and his psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe) is after all dependent upon both believing in the apparently impossible – that Cole is, as he thinks, a hero from the future. Either way, the film provides rich fodder for psychoanalysis, and poor pickings for scientific scrutiny. – from a review by Will Cohu

The Sunday Times 21 April 1996 pp.6-7
Twelve Monkeys advances a fascinating proposition: namely, that pretty much nothing separates the self-belief of the superhero from the paranoid delusions of the raving lunatic. David Koresh is simply Luke Skywalker minus his light-sabre, Charles Manson merely Flash Gordon with no film to back him up and more hair. The idea makes glorious sense when you think about it. After all, the plots of most action movies sound like nothing so much as tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying absolutely zilch. Who but a madman could come up with something as truly berserk as Waterworld: only the batty would dress up as a bat; and as for that cop who took to running around every Christmas Eve. making such a hullabaloo about German terrorists: what a loon. What? That was Bruce? Whoops. […] There’s an inspired mischievousness to Gilliam, who, in this film, takes aim at the traditional sci-fi blockbuster, shatters it into a zillion tiny pieces and reassembles it into an infernal contraption of his own devising – a monkey puzzle to drive audiences ape. […] The future in this film looks like it has really gone down the toilet: a labyrinthine mess of pipes and ducts, the sort of thing Orwell might have come up with if he’d been, a plumber. Take a plunge through all that bad plumbing and you’ll soon find yourself in the endless ducts that encircled Gilliam’s last sci-fi film, Brazil, or the mad, worming spaghetti that put a stranglehold on the credits of Monty Python: the best image Gilliam has yet given us of the inner workings of his own brain, and the eventual fate of his narratives. Nobody, but nobody, can overcomplicate like Gilliam. […] This is a more disciplined movie than Brazil, but Gilliam so rankles at that discipline that you wonder if movies are his natural habitat. Look at the way he decorates the walls of Stowe’s flat – a mad collage of paintings, clippings, cuttings. It’s the wall of an illustrator, lining his studio and his head with inspirational clutter, holing up for the oncoming brainstorm. Gilliam retains an illustrator’s sensibility – using images to embellish his story, rather than advance it; and he clearly regrets the fact that actors will insist on existing in the flesh, rather than turning into cartoons, as they should, although Pitt’s lunatic comes close. Away from his actors, Gilliam can deliver images of lovely desolation: a lion roaring atop the Chrysler building, a giraffe galloping across Brooklyn bridge – images that stick in the mind’s eye long after the film has faded from the screen. In fact, I enjoyed Twelve Monkeys much more in retrospect than I did at the time. You could argue that this was an appropriate response to a film about remembrance and time travel, but I think it’s the other way around: time-hopping gets him off the hook of telling a straightforward story. Gilliam makes movies that are best seen in the comfort of your own head, because his own is such a hellishly hectic place to be. – from a review (That way madness lies) by Tom Shone

Films in Review vol.47 no.5/6 (May/June 1996) pp.64-65
12 Monkeys has all the flaws of a good Terry Gilliam film and few of the virtues. First off, there is an out-of-control Brad Pitt, incorporating almost a century’s worth of cinematic clichés about the mentally ill in a caricature so bad we come to see what a genuinely shallow talent his is. […] Next there is a script from David and Janet Peoples (David being of Blade Runner scripting fame) that, like the Blade Runner script, manages to confuse an audience because it relies too heavily on source material that is, at best, a venture into the exotic, not part of the working vocabulary of a mainstream audience. […] Unlike the Chris Marker film to which is (supposedly) pays tribute, 12 Monkeys is a messy melange. What it has going for it is a superb performance by Bruce Willis, whose growth as an actor has been a fascination to watch, a decent enough momentum once we get out of the madhouse and away from Pitt – but the tears, the deeply wrenching regrets, the longing in the original have all been ironed out by the Peoples and Gilliam, leaving us, in the end, not quite certain what all this ado was about. – from an illustrated review by Harry Pearson Jr

The Guardian Section 2 3 May 1996 p.7
Terry Gilliam’s time-travel film is only intermittently about the future, but still it struck me as a dispiriting reminder that cinema has run out of ways to imagine what lies ahead. Over cinema’s last decade, the future has become passe. There’s been hardly a sci-fi film that doesn’t tout secondhand futures, cloned directly from Blade Runner or The Terminator. Hollywood seems able to conceive of only one future – a perennial Metropolis that’s all shopping mall above, urban jungle below. Twelve Monkeys is different, but it suffers its own imaginative exhaustion. Its future – a strident world of leering technocrats and revolving video eyes whose only function is to glare with obscure depravity – is too distinctive to be more than decorative, a recycling of the horrors of Gilliam’s Brazil. It’s by no means a standard sci-fi future, but its hermetic weirdness is paradoxically reassuring – as if Gilliam felt safer retreating into his private infernalia. […] Past, present and future become questionable terms; the present is always whatever we see on the screen. This makes for a far more eloquent, inscrutable paradox of time and memory than Twelve Monkeys is able to elaborate in all its hair-tearing complication. – from a review (Framespotting: Inside the futures market) by Jonathan Romney

Cinéaste vol.22 no.3 (December 1996) pp.47-48
Gilliam uses skewed camera angles and histrionic performances to conjure a modern allegory for our disease- and paranoia-ridden culture. At the same time, however, he infuses these tense moments with his darkly comic irony: television ads for Florida as a holiday escape are paired against the empty and sallow faces of the inmates in the rec room. In these sequences, Gilliam is clearly throwing out the dorm-room-philosophy that it is actually the insane who carry the voice of truth and that the asylums of our present day may be the homes of our future. These moments of witty insight are few and far between, however, and the film is incapable of maintaining this important dimension of humor against the weight of its apocalyptic vision. […] To his credit, Gilliam’s attention to detail has always made his films visually fascinating. The elaborate set design of the future – the prisoners caged like guinea pigs, the abandoned, snow-covered cityscape – is breathtaking. And the vast mechanical devices and television screens which dominate the sets of the ‘future’ click and pulse with an organic and living quality. But such trimmings cannot make up for a narrative which descends into a morass of Hollywood clichés and conventions. […] 12 Monkeys lacks the subtlety of [Gilliam’s] earlier works, relying moreover on its gothic production values and a hackneyed love story. Above all, Gilliam fails to make use of his patented wit and cynicism, writing and directing traits he has so ably used in the past to lay bare the frailties of our culture. – from a review by John Fried

Empire no.120 (June 1999) p.148
The story hinges on “the agony of foreknowledge, combined with impotence to do anything about it”. Abstractly based on a 1962 French art film La Jetée, which nobody has ever seen, and written by David Peoples who worked on Blade Runner, this is highly intelligent material with performances to match from two actors whose regular work evidently stretches them not a jot. […] Though often branded an irresponsible architect of excess, Gilliam manages to keep a firm hand on the unravelling apocalypse, spinning thematic plates such as Greek legend, Revelations, AIDS and even Hitchcock’s Vertigo, about which Willis comments, “Every time you see it, you get something different.” Rings a bell. – from an illustrated video review by Andrew Collins



  • American Cinematographer vol.77 no.1 (January 1996) pp.36-44 – illustrated article (Twelve Monkeys: a dystopian trip through time by Stephen Pizzello)
  • CineAction! no.58 (June 2002) pp.11-31 – illustrated article (Time and point of view in contemporary cinema by Temenuga Trifonova)
  • Cinéaste vol.22 no.3 (December 1996) pp.47-48 – review (by John Fried)
  • Cinefantastique vol.27 no.3 (December 1995) pp.8-9 – illustrated article (Twelve Monkeys by Andy Markowitz)
  • Cinefantastique vol.27 no.4/5 (January 1996) pp.14-15 – illustrated article (Twelve Monkeys by Steve Biodrowski and Paul Wardle)
  • Cinefantastique vol.27 no.6 (February 1996) pp.19-21, 61; 21-23 – illustrated article (Twelve Monkeys by Andrew Markowitz); illustrated article (Writing the Script by Steve Biodrowski)
  • Comedy Review no.2 (April 1996) pp.75 – illustrated interview (Terry Gilliam by Bob Mccabe)
  • Deathray no.21 (October/November 2009) pp.80-81 – illustrated article (illustrated article (DeathRay Eight of the Best… by Stephen Baxter)
  • Empire no.83 (May 1996) pp.26-27; 84-91 – illustrated review (New films by Mark Salisbury); illustrated interview with Terry Gilliam (Quiet! Genius at work by John Naughton)
  • Empire no.89 (November 1996) pp.130 – illustrated video review (Video movies to rent by Kim Newman)
  • Empire no.120 (June 1999) pp.148 – illustrated video review (Videos to buy by Andrew Collins)
  • Empire no.130 (April 2000) pp.140 – illustrated DVD review (DVD: sci-fi)
  • Empire no.194 August 2005) pp.166 – illustrated DVD review (FFW: Import Round-Up by David Hughes)
  • Empire no.213 March 2007) pp.152-153 – illustrated article (The Top 10 movie apocalypses by Alan Morrison)
  • Empire no.231 September 2008) pp.113-123 – illustrated article (10 years of DVD by Simon Crook, Nick De Semlyen, James Dyer et al)
  • Empire no.233 November 2008) pp.88-172 – illustrated article (The 500 greatest movies of all time)
  • European Media Business & Finance vol.7 no.9 (5 May 1997) pp.1, 8 – illustrated article (Philips show anger at German ’12 Monkeys’ DVD release)
  • Film Ireland no.52 (April/May 1996) pp.29-30 – illustrated review (Michael Gray)
  • Films in Review vol.47 no.5/6 (May/June 1996) pp.64-65


  • The Films of the Nineties: A Complete, Qualitative Filmography of Over 3000 Feature-Length English Language Films, Theatrical and Video-Only, Released Between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 1999 by Robert A. Nowlan and Gwendolyn L. Nowlan p.565
  • Sci-fi Chronicles by Guy Haley (ed.) p.203

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide August 2009 p.23 – illustrated listing
  • BFI Southbank Guide December 2022 p.11 – illustrated listing