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Amadeus
11-27-2000, 02:08 AM
Okay, I just saw 12 Monkeys for the first time. I got really confused at the end. A couple people have told me that he really prevented the virus from spreading, because that one lady from the future got on the plain next to the guy with the virus and somehow stopped him. Other poeple say he just died, just like he saw it happening in his dream. Can someone help me out?

Typo Negative
11-27-2000, 03:02 AM
He did not stop the virus from spreading,IMHO. To me, he seemed doomed to replay the same events over and over.

Lsura
11-27-2000, 03:58 AM
I thought his goal was to locate the virus in its pure form, so that the future scientists could develop a vaccine/cure/whatever so the future people could return to the surface. The virus wasn't stopped, because the guy who spread it opened the vial at the airport, and let the guard smell it, exposing the guard and starting the chain reaction.

My impression was that the lady was on the place because Cole had located the pure virus, and she was 'collecting' it to return to the future with it. But Cole still died in the airport. He was the one that got shot in the airport, in front of his younger self.

big_yellow_kingswood
11-27-2000, 07:07 AM
I thought that it was just a major twist of irony - 30 years (or whatever it was, it's been a while since I saw the movie) before she was involved in trying to stop the virus, she was actually sitting on the plane next to the guy who was responsible for it and she'd never know how close she once was...

Johnny L.A.
11-27-2000, 07:18 AM
I agree with Lsura. Bruce Willis discovers the Army of the 12 Monkeys is a red herring used by Brad Pitt to camouflage his true aim of releasing the virus. Willis makes a call at the airport and five minutes later his old cellmate Josť shows up -- it's only been five minutes for Willis since he called, but 30 years for Josť.

So Willis has tracked down the "pure" virus. He's done his job. Too bad he got dead, but that's war. At first, I thought, as big_yellow_kingswood did, that it was ironic that the scientist was sitting next to Pitt on the plane. But then she said "I'm in insurance" and it became clear that she was not Scientist 1996, but the scientist from the future who returned to get a sample of the virus.

hawthorne
11-27-2000, 07:47 AM
Bear in mind that she cannot change what has occurred, merely establish a location for the virus in its pure form. IIRC correctly the film is based on a French short called La Jettee which is all about time travel by memory. Johnny L.A.
the Army of the 12 Monkeys is a red herring used by Brad Pitt to camouflage his true aim of releasing the virusNo, the person releasing the virus was not the Pitt character but his father's assistant.

big_yellow_kingswood
11-27-2000, 07:51 AM
Hmmmm.... when I saw the movie a few years ago, I just thought that this line meant that in the next 30 years she'll have a major career change, but I see your point. I haven't seen the movie since it was in the cinema, which was when I was about 15 or 16.

From memory though, it seemed that she genuinely had no idea who he was or what all the fracas outside in the terminal was about. I think I'll rent out the DVD and have another look. Maybe I'll buy it, I can remember how amazingly good I thought the movie was when it came out. I think I'll rent it first though, just to avoid paying $30 for the "This isn't as good as i remember" effect.

dzray
11-27-2000, 10:06 AM
If you watch the "making of" featurette on the DVD release, Terry Gilliam makes it clear that it is no accident that the woman is seated next to him on the plane.

toonerama
11-27-2000, 10:18 AM
Hmm, what a great movie. The part I was never sure about is: what is the significance of the old man/hobo who also removed his teeth, and speaks half-clearly to Willis? And is it his voice that we hear a couple of times when nobody is present other than Willis?

Little Nemo
11-27-2000, 10:48 AM
There have been prolonged discussions (and arguments) about what the final scene of 12 Monkeys meant. IIRC, at least one of them occurred on this board. Without having heard any of the commentary from Gilliam or the writers, here's a review of the possible scenarios:

The Happy Ending scenario - The scientist was send back from the future as "an insurance" to complete Cole's mission. The problem with this theory is that the virus had already been released, although some have argued that the mission was to get a sample not to prevent the release. Another problem is that it would be out of character in a Gilliam film to have the authority figure rescue the world.

The Unhappy Ending scenario - The scientist was send back from the future as "an insurance" to make sure Cole failed in his mission. The theory here being that the scientists did not want to change their present where they ruled what was left of the world. The female scientist went into the past to ensure the virus was released.

The Coincidence scenario - The woman on the plane is the contemporary version of the person who will become the scientist. Her line of being "in insurance" was meant to indicate that she is not a real scientist and the entire mission of reversing the plague was hopeless regardless of whether Cole succeeded or not. This theory is disputed by the fact that woman is the same age as she appeared in the future.

The Insanity scenario - The presence of the woman, who's "in insurance", is meant to indicate that all of Cole's future life was in fact a hallucination based on events he saw in the present. Cole really was insane as many people thought and wasn't a time traveller.

The Red Herring scenario - The presence of this actress in this scene is like an earlier scene where Brad Pitt played the running man in the airport. It's just a way for Gilliam to make the movie more confusing.

Phobos
11-27-2000, 12:41 PM
With Gilliam and time travel, things are bound to get confusing. But overall, I agree with Lsura. In the future, the virus had already been released so I guess they could not prevent that. But their future was still unset so their goal was to capture the virus in its pure form so they could create a cure. Bruce Willis' character successfully located the original virus, so the doctor from the future went back to get it from the scientist who released it. The result is, the hero dies and the success of the mission still leaves an uncertainty as to whether the doctors in the future can use the pure virus or not to create the cure.

Reminiscent of Gilliam's confusing ending to Brazil, n'est-ce pas?

fiddlesticks
11-27-2000, 12:43 PM
Originally posted by Little Nemo
The Unhappy Ending scenario - The scientist was send back from the future as "an insurance" to make sure Cole failed in his mission. The theory here being that the scientists did not want to change their present where they ruled what was left of the world. The female scientist went into the past to ensure the virus was released.


Gilliam is not a "Happy Ending" filmmaker. You should also check out Brazil if you enjoyed 12 Monkeys.

I've always subscribed to this scenario. The true purpose of the Scientist folks sending people into the past was not to change the "present", because if the virus was never released they wouldn't hold the positions of power they obviously held. Instead true purpose was to find the virus in its pure state.

The movie doesn't really shed much light onto what the Scientist *really* want to do with virus. But it doesn't take much to infer that they weren't undertaking this operation simply to immunize all the survivors. If that was the purpose, the newly healthly survivors would no longer be dependant on the Underground World for their very lives, and thus the Scientists would immediately lose their positions of power. One would imagine that they would immunize themselves and then a select few others, leaving the bulk of the survivors powerless and enslaved, holding out the vaccine as a carrot for "good behaivor".

My future Ph.D. physicist buddy says 12 Monkeys is the most "accurate" time travel movie ever made. You can't "change" the future by traveling into the past and doing something. If you travel into the past what you perceive as the "present" is the direct result of whatever mucking around you did in the past. You can't go back in time and kill your grandfather because if you did you would have never existed in the first place. Cole is fated not to prevent the virus from being released because if he had we wouldn't have gone back into the past to stop it.

Well, that's his view, not mine, anyhow.

Arken
11-27-2000, 12:46 PM
Since we're discussing 12 Monkeys, I'm going to hijack this thread. (Muahaha!)

Several times during the film, Madeline Stowe's character says she remembers Bruce Willis from somewhere but she can't place it. Now, for much of the film this could be explained that he was in her WWI photograph that she had on her wall.

However, when they are in the movie theatre and Bruce is wearing the cheesy moustache and Hawaiian shirt, she says to him something like, "this is how I remember you."

It's never explained.

My theory? There's about 5 seconds on the cutting room floor in which we see a little girl who vaguely resembles Madeline Stowe ALSO watching the murder at the airport.
(i.e. she was in on the whole thing)

Anyone else have a better idea?

jb_farley
11-27-2000, 02:12 PM
Since I saw the movie a few years back, I have always thought that The Unhappy Scenario was what happened. That is, if you can be sure anything in the movie actually happened.

I read the novelization over the summer (I was in the middle of a veritable book drought), but I don't have it with me right now. I think it may be able to shed light on a lot of things (the bum with no teeth, insurance, etc)

jb

Nanook of the North Shore
11-27-2000, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by Little Nemo
There have been prolonged discussions (and arguments) about what the final scene of 12 Monkeys meant. IIRC, at least one of them occurred on this board. Without having heard any of the commentary from Gilliam or the writers, here's a review of the possible scenarios:

The Happy Ending scenario - *snip*

The Unhappy Ending scenario - *snip*


The problem with both of these scenarios is that it was stated several times in the movie that they never planned to stop the virus, that in fact, since it was in the past, it couldn't be changed. The stated goal of Cole was to get a pure sample so that the future scientists could develop a cure. I don't think in that situation the scientists would have to worry about losing their power. I think the human population would be so grateful to get back to the surface that they would gladly keep the ones that accomplished that fact in power.

Scupper
11-27-2000, 02:48 PM
What I didn't get about this movie was the use of recorded messages to "talk" to the future. Why didn't they just listen to all the messages at once and have solutions for every one of Willis' problems handy?

Rhythmdvl
11-27-2000, 02:56 PM
It has been quite some time since I saw the film, so please forgive me for not being clear on a couple points. First off, I am not sure I understand the points being raised about the scientist's need to retain power. Where does this come from? I recall the scientists were in charge of Cole, but did not get the impression that they were in charge of society as a whole. I had thought Cole was in jail / an asylum of sorts, and he was brought before the futuristic NIH to be used by them as a pawn. They had power, yes, especially power over Cole, but where in the film does it set them up as rulers dependent on society's decimation for power?

Also, before reading this thread I had taken the 'happy' ending as somewhat of a given. Regardless of what she was there for (to stop the rest of the vials from being opened or to get a pure sample) her comment that she was there for 'insurance' was directly related to the rest of the plot.

But how did she know where to sit and who to sit next to? This is the part where my memory is failing, and hope someone will help out. Did Cole ever figure out who the real bio-terrorist is, or just realize that Pitt's character wasn't the one? What gave it away? In the phone call where Cole gave himself away did he point the future to the real source of the virus? If not, how did the woman track down the virus? Thanks.

Rhythm

Lemur866
11-27-2000, 03:04 PM
I don't think the scientists intended Bruce to fail. But his mission wasn't to stop the virus, it was to get a pure sample so people *in the future* could be cured. The scientists know that they cannot prevent the virus and change the "past", but they can "change" their future. So the woman scientist gets the virus, goes back to the future, everybody on earth dies, then they use the virus for a cure.

So it is a sort of happy ending. Bruce dies, but the virus can be cured in the future. Oh, and Brad doesn't have anything to do with releasing the virus, he was a red herring. His army just released the zoo animals, they had nothing to do with the virus.

Nanook of the North Shore
11-27-2000, 03:24 PM
Originally posted by Rhythmdvl

But how did she know where to sit and who to sit next to? This is the part where my memory is failing, and hope someone will help out. Did Cole ever figure out who the real bio-terrorist is, or just realize that Pitt's character wasn't the one? What gave it away? In the phone call where Cole gave himself away did he point the future to the real source of the virus? If not, how did the woman track down the virus? Thanks.

Rhythm


He did figure it out. Well actually she did. She(Madelaine Stowe's character) saw the magazine with Pitts dad and his assistant on the cover and recognized the assistant(she had literally bumped into him a few moments before). The way the scientists from the future were able to figure it out is from when Cole starts shooting at him in the terminal. Between the other agents they had there and the I'm sure news reports about it they were able to figure out who it was.

RealityChuck
11-27-2000, 05:49 PM
I'm a strong adherent to the "Unhappy Ending" scenario, primarily because there is absolutely no reason to trust the scientists when they claim they're were just looking for the pure virus. The leaders treated Cole like shit, so it's awfully hard to believe that they are altruists.

Further, the scene in the plane clearly indicates that the woman agrees with the man spreading the virus. Also, the people from the future knew the source of the virus before they send Cole back (notice that scene where Cole is in the torture chair -- Dr. Goines is clearly visible in a clipping on the wall). If they were honest with Cole, why don't they tell him to look for the source instead of having him chase the 12 Monkeys?

So you have a bunch of people who are dishonest and somewhat sadistic. Why should anyone trust them? And if you can't trust them, there can't be a happy ending.

bafaa
11-27-2000, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by Scupper
What I didn't get about this movie was the use of recorded messages to "talk" to the future. Why didn't they just listen to all the messages at once and have solutions for every one of Willis' problems handy?

When that guy from the future gives Cole the gun in the airport he also mentions that they had just finished piecing together the message.
I guess you can argue that they could have waited until the message was deciphered before they sent Cole back but then he wouldn't have been there to leave the message in the first place...or something like that. Time travel and paradoxes give me a headache. :)


Chuck,
My take on it is that they knew that Dr Goines created the virus but it's kept under tight security and Cole would probably have very little chance of getting anywhere near it.
I can see it now:
"Excuse me, I'm from the future. Got any deadly viruses around here? Hey I just need a sample, OK? Why are you looking at me like that?"

Since the doctor's unstable son is the leader of the 12 Monkeys, a group the future thinks is responsible for releasing the virus, I guess they think it's a good place to start looking for a sample.


What I always wondered was how do they plan to get a sample back to the future?

My guess:
When airport security examines the vials the virus gets released by David Morse. He actually opens the vial and sniffs it while looking around the air as if to say "there it's done, no turning back now". So if that's the case then wouldn't the future scientist be infected with the pure sample just by sitting next to David Morse on the plane? When she goes back to the future she'll have her sample.
Mission accomplished?

Great movie but so many questions...

djbdjb2
11-27-2000, 07:25 PM
I just watched this movie last week, but I guess I missed something. Who is it that the "mad scientist" (the guy who releases the virus, employed by Dr. Leland Goines) sits next to on the airplane? Is it the woman in the group of scientist that dispatch Willis's character? (Carol Florence, who is credited as Astrophysicist)?

Nanook of the North Shore
11-27-2000, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by djbdjb2
I just watched this movie last week, but I guess I missed something. Who is it that the "mad scientist" (the guy who releases the virus, employed by Dr. Leland Goines) sits next to on the airplane? Is it the woman in the group of scientist that dispatch Willis's character? (Carol Florence, who is credited as Astrophysicist)?

Yes thats exactly who it is.

wevets
11-27-2000, 09:23 PM
I loved the film, but I haven't read any commentary or anything about it.

I was always under the impression that the virus could not be prevented because it had already been released to the security guard in the airport (as Phobos mentioned).

The fact that Jose provides Willis' character with a gun and tells him to shoot the man responsible tells me that even if the original aim of the scientists was to get a pure sample of the virus, they may have decided to at least try to alter the past and prevent the epidemic (in their place, who wouldn't at least try?).

Then when the scientist shows up on the plane and says that she's "insurance," it seems to me that is too much to ask of coincidence. She probably succeeds in getting a pure sample of the virus to bring back to the future.

Not exactly a happy ending, with billions still about to die, but not the worst possible ending either.

Then again, it is left pretty ambiguous on purpose, I'm sure.

MysteryFellow63427
11-27-2000, 09:51 PM
This time travel stuff is getting to my head again. I think I'm going to go lie down.

BTW, the two endings I find plausible are "Happy" and "Coincidence".

Little Nemo
11-28-2000, 12:19 AM
Gilliam is not a "Happy Ending" filmmaker. You should also check out Brazil if you enjoyed 12 Monkeys.

I've seen all of Gilliam's films. He's one of my favorite filmmakers. And I absolutely agree that he'd be the last person on Earth to make a film with the message "Don't worry. Trust authority figures. Follow orders blindly and everything will be all right in the end." On the other hand 12 Monkeys was written by David Peoples who tacked a happy ending onto the end of Blade Runner.

In my opinion, the bleakest of all endings would be the Coincidence one. Assume that the woman on the plane is an insurance agent when the plague strikes. She's not a great scientist (maybe she was a C+ astrophysics major) but with 99% of humanity dead, she's able to rise to the top of what's left. She may not be in charge but she's obviously a lot more powerful than she was before. And we can assume all her colleagues came from similar backgrounds.

The result of this is that these scientists have no chance of curing the plague. They're simply going through the motions of working on a cure to justify the control they have over the lives of others. Cole's efforts were doomed from before they even began. Even if he succeeded against all odds in bringing back a virus sample it would accomplish nothing.

This I feel is a typical Gilliam message. He's always shown that the worst from of evil is incompetent evil, which causes suffering for no reason, not even self serving ones.

MrWhy
11-28-2000, 12:32 AM
I always thought that the woman really was "in insurance" and was not any sort of scientist at all. She was sitting there simply by coincidence. The point of the scene was to demonstrate that the future human population was so decimated by the virus that people who had no idea what they were doing were able to (or had to) take over. I thought that, all through the film, the "scientists" did not quite seem to know what they were doing.

Also, I thought that she looked younger enough in the 'plane to be there without having travelled back in time.

But that's just my opinion.

scr4
11-28-2000, 02:12 AM
Originally posted by MrWhy
I always thought that the woman really was "in insurance" and was not any sort of scientist at all... I thought that, all through the film, the "scientists" did not quite seem to know what they were doing.

True enough, if you disregard their successful time machine, tracking devices, etc.

One argument against this view is that the scientist/insurance woman shakes hands with the "mad scientist" - looked very deliberate, as if attempting to get a virus sample off his hands.

hawthorne
11-28-2000, 05:54 AM
I agree with you scr4 up to this point:One argument against this view is that the scientist/insurance woman shakes hands with the "mad scientist" - looked very deliberate, as if attempting to get a virus sample off his hands.
She is in the same position as Cole was: she is uncovering the significance of events in the past, not changing them. She cannot be getting a sample of the virus, since in the present she would already know where it was. Through Cole's efforts she is discovering that she sat next to the virus-releaser. The way the time travel works in the film is that the past and the present are bound together - the deeds of the time travellers are set in stone in the past. What the time-travellers can achieve is to turn information - which in the cases of both Cole and the scientist is already known - into useful knowledge.

Phobos
11-28-2000, 11:59 AM
Originally posted by Scupper
What I didn't get about this movie was the use of recorded messages to "talk" to the future. Why didn't they just listen to all the messages at once and have solutions for every one of Willis' problems handy?

Because in their timeline, Bruce Willis hadn't yet gone back in time to record all the messages. They send him, he sends a message, they retrieve him in order to give him a new mission based on the info he collected.

Apparently, they couldn't time travel to the future to get all this info at once (now, that would be a paradox).

Surgoshan
11-28-2000, 04:05 PM
I really have to watch that movie again. Sober. I missed so much.

kbachler
07-15-2012, 07:21 PM
With respect to the ending...

First - it's clear that the scientists in the future BELIEVED that the past could not be changed, but that Cole had changed that belief. This was difficult to test because if the past were changed the timeline had changed and they wouldn't know it.

BUT - they got a message from someone in the past OTHER THAN Cole. Clearly, prior to Cole going into the past this could have not happened. Therefore, Cole clearly changed the past.

They may have also found that a bullet from circa 1920 ended up in 1996. This was also a change in the past.

So they now know the past CAN be changed - at least by Cole. OTHERWISE it would make no sense to ask Jose to put a gun in Cole's hand. They could simply ask them to identify the assistant, and send someone back to an earlier time to get the virus.

Thus, I hold the belief that the movie actually has - and reflects - multiple evolving timelines. Some of the information we see changes because the timelines are changing for the characters.

This doesn't answer the question about whether in the final scene the scientist from the future was there to complete Cole's original or changed mission. Personally, I think she was there to stop him for two reasons.

1. If their goal was to be certain that the virus was spread, then wouldn't there have been plenty of opportunities to simply scuttle the time machine?

2. There is a glass of champagne poured when the assistant arrives at his seat. This should be her glass. Yet, she takes the NEW glass offered by the flight attendant. This makes me believe that the current glass has been drugged, perhaps poisoned.

boytyperanma
07-15-2012, 07:30 PM
With respect to the ending...

First - it's clear that the scientists in the future BELIEVED that the past could not be changed, but that Cole had changed that belief. This was difficult to test because if the past were changed the timeline had changed and they wouldn't know it.

BUT - they got a message from someone in the past OTHER THAN Cole. Clearly, prior to Cole going into the past this could have not happened. Therefore, Cole clearly changed the past.

They may have also found that a bullet from circa 1920 ended up in 1996. This was also a change in the past.

So they now know the past CAN be changed - at least by Cole. OTHERWISE it would make no sense to ask Jose to put a gun in Cole's hand. They could simply ask them to identify the assistant, and send someone back to an earlier time to get the virus.

Thus, I hold the belief that the movie actually has - and reflects - multiple evolving timelines. Some of the information we see changes because the timelines are changing for the characters.

This doesn't answer the question about whether in the final scene the scientist from the future was there to complete Cole's original or changed mission. Personally, I think she was there to stop him for two reasons.

1. If their goal was to be certain that the virus was spread, then wouldn't there have been plenty of opportunities to simply scuttle the time machine?

2. There is a glass of champagne poured when the assistant arrives at his seat. This should be her glass. Yet, she takes the NEW glass offered by the flight attendant. This makes me believe that the current glass has been drugged, perhaps poisoned.

Looks like he may have been successful in stopping the virus but no one expected a completely different disaster. The zombie apocalypse seems to have killed everyone off anyway so all their effort to stop the virus was in vain.

Ludovic
07-15-2012, 07:42 PM
Someone send me back to 2000 so I can obtain a sample of an ancient message board posting!

Blake
07-15-2012, 07:43 PM
kbachler. you have inadvertently posted this message in 2012 instead of 2000. Set your time machine back 12 years and try again.

buddha_david
07-15-2012, 08:05 PM
kbachler. you have inadvertently posted this message in 2012 instead of 2000. Set your time machine back 12 years and try again.
At least they're getting better. He could have wound up in Ancient Egypt.

Colibri
07-15-2012, 09:10 PM
Moving to Cafe Society, which was years in the future when this thread was started in 2000.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

MPB in Salt Lake
07-15-2012, 09:27 PM
Is there possibly any more physically stunning woman in the entire history of modern cinema than Madeline Stowe in 12 Monkeys?

Ellen Cherry
07-15-2012, 10:24 PM
Well, Madeleine Stowe in Last of the Mohicans gives her a run for her money.

fiddlesticks
07-15-2012, 11:03 PM
Wow, one of the first threads I ever contributed to! Good times.

MPB in Salt Lake
07-15-2012, 11:10 PM
Obviously I was using a bit of hyperbole in my description of Ms. Stowe, and clearly such matters are subjective by nature, but when I see someone like her, compared to current celebrities who are touted as the most attractive women around (Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Kim Kardashian) I am honestly at a loss to understand how she wasn't ever considered one of the world's great beauties....

(Hijack over)