Army of the Twelve Monkeys, The
The film’s a terrible mess, but a terribly beautiful, tender mess.
To be able to go with the very eccentric “TWELVE MONKEYS” one really needs to know up front that it is a film by a Monty Python member who had a big win with “The Fisher King” and before that, a big flop with “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.”And as a more specific frame of reference, it helps to know that Gilliam’s earlier directing efforts were the Orwellian sci-fi cult favorite “Brazil” and the dark time-travel comedy “Time Bandits.”If you have any familiarity with the latter two pictures, you may have some idea of just how weird and wonderful and bizarre and frustrating “TWELVE MONKEYS”” is. In terms of plot, we’re back in the time-travel territory of “Time Bandits,” while the film’s dark, dank, cluttered and visually arresting style owes more than a little to “Brazil.”
Although he’s great at building worlds of his own, Gilliam was never one for a subtle fine touch. And this is were he starts losing me. His 1990 Baltimore asylum is a ward full of central casting “loonies” who stare catatonically ahead or speak of travel to fictional planets. It’s all wide angle distorted dutch-tilted shots while the actual “loony tunes” cartoon plays on the tv. When Cole falls in love with the fresh air of 1996 and goes bananas for Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”, as that world looks headed for disaster, the irony is way over the top.
Gilliam does not tell his story in a linear fashion, but instead jumps back and forth in time and offers occasional hints about where it will all end up. And thus there’s a lack of any real sense of suspense. As soon as Willis tells Stowe the fate of a little boy trapped in a well, I knew that would be the key to whether or not she believed his outlandish tale of the future. As soon as Willis’ dream is shown for the third or fourth time, I knew how the movie would end. The acting is good, and the visuals are sharp. But at two hours long, they should have just settled for six monkeys.
Scene Selection Menus
presented in 2:35:1
Gone are all the Loony bits and we focus on the mystery of James Cole.
He’s got no history, no pass and no records. Is he insane or does he really come from the future?
We don’t know for sure because we straighten up the multi time shift hopping and tell the story with a single flashback. We also remove all the scenes in the future.
The attempt is to shift the focus from Cole to Dr Reilly. This way we are never sure if Cole is telling the truth of if he indeed is insane.
Hopefully this tone down version will make the film more accessible for repeated viewing.
Chronological re-assemble of the entire film.
All of Cole’s memory/dreams flashforbackards are gone
All the scenes in the future are gone, well mostly gone
new opening scene
Trimmed Dr Reilly’s presentation
Trimmed Frank Gorshin. The Riddler is mostly gone.
Trimmed policy station interrogation.
Added new music cues from VERTIGO
Trimmed Brad Pitt’s insane monologues
Deleted the phone call
Deleted Dr Goines kidnapping
Deleted kid James Cole at the airport
Rearranged airport chase
many more trims to remember
New color treatment to entire film
The film is reformatted to 2:35:01.
The video quality was pretty bad, but it gave it an artistic aesthetic so I overlooked it quickly. I thought the added music was too loud. Video editing was fine.
I love Twelve Monkeys as it is and very much enjoyed this fanedit. There are some plot holes as other reviewers have pointed out but I wasn’t as bothered by them. It’s definitely more arthouse sci-fi here.
A/V Quality - 8
Editing - 10 video, 8 audio
Narrative - 8
Enjoyment - 9 (original 9)
Recommended drink: Pinot Blanc
Love your edit but then again i still love the original. A college friend an i sat in my car after watching it at the cinema, discussing it. He had totally missed the woman from the future’s last line causing him to no see a clear outcome. Anyhow your cuts have made a great alternative but not a replacement for me. Overall 3.5 out of 5.
12 Monkeys is one of my favorite sci-fi flicks, so I was ready to see what a talented faneditor like Jorge could do with it. He performs major surgery on it, stamping it with his signature style and timeline alterations. Some of the changes are more successful than others.
The most excessive “looney tunes” scenes are toned down with smooth edits, and most of the cuts in this version flow well. Some of the really giant holes are smoothed over with expert, long crossfades of video or audio.
On the other hand, the recolorization is more a distracting gimmick than an enhancement of atmosphere. The film has a grainy look and there’s noticeable splotchiness and tiling in the shadows. Some of the background music has been replaced, or new music added, with more conventional music that lends a jarring melodramatic tone to some scenes.
The most interesting aspect is the total reframing that makes Dr. Railly the central character, a psychiatrist who is sucked into the paranoid delusions of her patient. By cutting all the future scenes, we see how unstable Railly is. All the characters who expressed closed minded disbelief in the original are now the sensible voices of reason and concern.
Like other commenters, I felt the final scene didn’t work. I think it’s trying for a “Sixth Sense” surprise, where one revelation resets the premist of everything that went before. But The Sixth Sense was finely constructed to reassemble with a nudge. 12 Monkeys doesn’t have that construction. To give another example, in Jorge’s previous Blue Skies on Mars, the theme of “is this real or is this virtual” is discussed and examined throughout, so the final twist is an additional and satisfying turn. This edit denies Cole’s reality throughout, so the final scene comes out of nowhere. Also, the final scene doesn’t make sense. Cole returns from the past – where he’s been bugging everybody about the Army of the 12 Monkeys – and then he goes and finds some 12 Monkeys graffiti. from Cole’s point of view it’s nothing new, so the only reason for the scene is to throw a twist in, which makes it an annoying stunt.
This fanedit is a clever reframing of the original, but ultimately it is a diminution rather than an enhancement. Without our full knowledge of Cole’s background and motives, the movie is far less poignant and there is no compelling urgency to Cole’s actions. And all the cool scenes of the future are gone.