12 Monkeys is a 1995 science-fiction time-travel movie about a convict, sent back in time to find the source of a devastating plague believed to have been released by the Army of the Twelve Monkeys, but who is sent too far back and is hospitalized as insane.
- Directed by Terry Gilliam. Written by David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples, inspired by the short film La Jetée.
- It's just like what's happening with us, like the past. The movie never changes. It can't change; but every time you see it, it seems different because you're different. You see different things.
- Games, games. Here's some games. Games you wanna get out. Ha! See, more games. Games, they vegitize you. If you play the games, you're voluntarily taking a tranquilizer...Drugs! What'd they give you? Thorazine? Haldol? How much? Learn your drugs — know your doses. It's elementary...
- Telephone call? Telephone call? That's communication with the outside world. Doctor's discretion. Nuh-uh. Look, hey — if all of these nuts could just make phone calls, they could spread insanity, oozing through telephone cables, oozing into the ears of all these poor sane people, infecting them. Wackos everywhere, a plague of madness. In fact, very few, very few of us here are actually mentally ill. I'm not saying you're not mentally ill, for all I know, you're crazy as a loon. But that's not why you're here. That's not why you're here. That's not why you're here! You're here because of the system.
- There's the television. It's all right there — all right there. Look, listen, kneel, pray. Commercials! We're not productive anymore. We don't make things anymore. It's all automated. What are we for then? We're consumers. Yeah. Okay, okay. Buy a lot of stuff, you're a good citizen. But if you don't buy a lot of stuff, if you don't, what are you then, I ask you? What? Mentally ill. Fact, Jim, fact — if you don't buy things: toilet paper, new cars, computerized yo-yos, electrically-operated sexual devices, stereo systems with brain-implanted headphones, screwdrivers with miniature built-in radar devices, voice-activated computers...
- So if you want to watch a particular television program, say 'All My Children' or something, you go to the Charge Nurse and tell her day and time the show you want to see is on. But you have to tell her before the show is scheduled to be on. There's this guy and he's always requesting shows that had already played. Yes, no. You have to tell her before. He couldn't quite grasp the idea that the Charge Nurse couldn't make it be yesterday. She couldn't turn back time, thank you, Einstein. Now he, he was nuts. He was a fruitcake, Jim!
- And when my father finds out I'm in this kind of place, he'll have them transfer me to one of those classy joints where they treat you properly, like a person, like a guest. With sheets and towels like a big hotel, with great drugs for all of us nut-case, lunatic, maniac devils.
- You are a total nutcase, completely deranged, delusional, paranoid. Your thought process is all fucked up. Your information tray is jammed, man!
- Sorry. Uh, sorry. I, I, I got a little agitated. The thought of, uh, escape had crossed my mind, and then suddenly — suddenly — suddenly I felt like bending the fucking bars back, and ripping out the goddamn window frames and eating them — yes, eating them! Leaping, leaping, leaping! Colonics for everyone! All right! You dumbasses. I'm a mental patient. I'm supposed to act out! Wait'll you morons find out who I am! My father's gonna be really upset, and when my father gets upset, the ground SHAKES! My father is God! I worship my father!
- Cassandra in Greek legend, you recall, was condemned to know the future but to be disbelieved when she foretold it. Hence the agony of foreknowledge combined with the impotence to do anything about it.
- Dr. Peters: I think, Dr. Railly, you have given your "alarmists" a bad name. Surely there is very real and very convincing data that the planet cannot survive the excesses of the human race: proliferation of atomic devices, uncontrolled breeding habits, the rape of the environment, the pollution of land, sea, and air. In this context, isn't it obvious that "Chicken Little" represents the sane vision and that Homo Sapiens' motto, "Let's go shopping!" is the cry of the true lunatic?
- Poet: Yet among the myriad microwaves, the infra-red messages, the gigabytes of ones and zeroes, we find words, byte-sized now, tinier even than science lurking in some vague electricity, but if we but listen we can hear the solitary voice of that poet telling us, "Yesterday This Day's Madness did prepare; Tomorrow's Silence, Triumph or Despair: Drink! for you know not whence you came, nor why: Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where."
- L.J. Washington: I don't really come from outer space.
- Jeffrey Goines: Oh. L.J. Washington. He doesn't really come from outer space.
- L.J. Washington: Don't mock me, my friend. It's a condition of mental divergence. I find myself on the planet Ogo, part of an intellectual elite, preparing to subjugate the barbarian hordes on Pluto. But even though this is a totally convincing reality for me in every way, nevertheless Ogo is actually a construct of my psyche. I am mentally divergent in that I am escaping certain unnamed realities that plague my life here. When I stop going there, I will be well. Are you also divergent, friend?
- James Cole: This is a place for crazy people. I'm not crazy.
- Dr. Peters: We don't use the term "crazy," Mr. Cole.
- James Cole: Well, you've got some real nuts here.
- Jeffrey Goines: You know what crazy is? Crazy is majority rules. Take germs, for example.
- James Cole: Germs?
- Jeffrey Goines: Uh-huh. Eighteenth century: no such thing, nada, nothing. No one ever imagined such a thing. No sane person. Along comes this doctor, uh, Semmelweis, Semmelweis. Semmelweis comes along. He's trying to convince people, other doctors mainly, that's there's these teeny tiny invisible bad things called germs that get into your body and make you sick. He's trying to get doctors to wash their hands. What is this guy? Crazy? Teeny, tiny, invisible? What do they call it? Uh-uh, germs? Huh? What? Now, up to the 20th century — last week, as a matter of fact, before I got dragged into this hellhole — I go in to order a burger at this fast-food joint, and the guy drops it on the floor. James, he picks it up, he wipes it off, he hands it to me like it's all OK. "What about the germs?" I say. He says "I don't believe in germs. Germs is a plot made up so they could sell disinfectants and soaps." Now he's crazy, right? See? Ah! Ah! There's no right, there's no wrong, there's only popular opinion. You... you... you believe in germs, right?
- James Cole: Look at them. They're just asking for it. Maybe the human race deserves to be wiped out.
- Jeffrey Goines: Wiping out the human race? That's a great idea. That's great. But more of a long-term thing. I mean, first we have to focus on more immediate goals.
- Dr. Owen Fletcher: Kathryn, you're a rational person. You're a trained psychiatrist. You know the difference between what's real and what's not.
- Dr. Kathryn Railly: And what we say is the truth is what everybody accepts. Right, Owen? I mean, psychiatry: it's the latest religion. We decide what's right and wrong. We decide who's crazy or not. I'm in trouble here. I'm losing my faith.
About 12 MonkeysEdit
- I've never seen La Jetee. If I do something based on something else I make it a principle not to read or see the original: I'll be intimidated by it, or I'll feel an awesome sense of responsibility. So I avoid that problem.
- There was something about the idea that people putting layer upon layer to protect themselves from a potential infection, end up in a sense isolating themselves from one another. And I became obsessed with that.
- The locations I've used were old disused power stations around Philadelphia and Baltimore. Nuclear plants, factories, power stations: "cathedrals of technological progress." I've always had a problem with the belief that technology was going to solve all of our problems; so I'm drawn to shooting in those places, particularly for this film, which is about decay and about nostalgia. These great spaces were considered to be providing the solution to all of our problems, yet now they're just wasted, lying there, rotting. And that seemed very much what a lot of the film was about. About putting your faith in the wrong things.
- Television seems to be ubiquitous in "Twelve Monkeys". Every scene has got a television screen in it doing something. It's because I think television is this awful mirror that we all look into every day, but it distorts the reflection and I hate it. It trivializes life. Rather than really enlightening us, it ends up just dragging us down to the lowest, into the boring and the tedious. And however much you try to resist it, you begin to believe the world really is that way.
So we've included it in the film. And it shows commercials that are doing strange things, and cartoons, which works very nicely as a juxtaposition to some of the scenes that are going on.
- Terry Gilliam, "Terry Gilliam on "Twelve Monkeys"" by Henri Béhar, Filmscouts.