Last night we watched 12 Monkeys, with Bruce Willis playing the role of James Cole, or The Man in La Jetee. The films are broadly similar in that the main character, living in a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world is sent back to the past (our present) for the ultimate purpose of either repairing the damage or preventing the apocalypse in the first place.
In the article about La Jetee it’s clear that The Man’s own early childhood took place before the war, and at the end of this film, he tries to escape back to the pre-war world permanently, but is pursued by an assassin from his own time, who shoots him to death at an airport. In this scene, in his “normal” timeline he is a small boy who looks on while the adult version of himself, as a time traveller, gets assassinated.
But in 12 Monkeys I don’t see where this same connection is made. Throughout this film, the Bruce Willis character has a recurring dream about somebody getting shot at an airport, but it isn’t clear that, in his normal timeline, post-apocalypse, that he remembers having been at the airport. Further, there’s an additional minor twist about a boy who disappeared in our time, supposedly down a well, but Cole states definitively that this is not what happened. Did the scientists from the future somehow yank this kid out of our time and into theirs?