Monday, February 01, 2010

From π to Zack and Miri: Part 3: 12 Monkeys

From mastermind and former Monty Python Terry Gilliam, comes this film on the nature of mental illness and destiny. The first movie in my collection that I have already watched, it was still just as interesting to go back and watch it again after years. There is so much going on in the movie the next time I watch it there will probably be something new I see.

12 Monkeys stars Bruce Willis as James Cole, a man from thirty years in the future from 1996. At the end of 1996 a virus was unleashed upon the Earth, killing five billion humans, and forcing the rest into hiding underground. Cole is selected to go back in time to learn more about who created the virus, so the scientists from the future can collect a pure sample and develop a cure. The time travel, however, has strong side effects on the mind.

Upon this latest viewing of the movie I noticed just how much of the movie deals with Cole's mental deterioration. Every trip back and forth in time unhinges his mind more. A portion of the movie is set in a mental hospital, and the character fits right in with the other patients. Cole is prone to outbursts of violence, placing police officers and orderlies in the hospital, and even beats a man to death. The character's mental state deteriorates and he loses all sense of reality, being dragged along by others for the final act of the movie, as he is incapable of continuing on his own.

On the opposite side is Brad Pitt's Jeffrey Goines. Goines is mentally unstable, and starts the movie in the mental hospital where his character belongs. While his mental state does not get better, he learns to act the part of the good son, of the animal rights activist leader, and reaches a point where he can operate in society. Meanwhile, under his seeming sanity is the insanity ready to be unleashed.

And then there is the character of Dr. Kathryn Railly. She begins the movie by treating the mental psychoses of Cole and Goines. But, after events with Cole she begins to question his reality and jumps into the insanity, losing pieces of herself in the process. She goes so far as to convince Cole of his reality, leading him along to the ending. She encourages the possible insanity.

While the questions in the movie are not explored, they are asked. One character asks another whether Railly has created her own subversive reality from Cole's. Railly continually questions Cole's grip on what is real. And we learn that Goines, while not fully sane, is at least aware of reality and what his actions are. All of the characters are insane to some point, it is just how they deal with their insanity that sets each of them apart from each other.

Next: 24 Season 1 12:00AM-1:00AM



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