Blu-ray Review: 12 Monkeys

No two words, used in conjunction, send shivers down the spine of Hollywood studio execs, financiers and producers quite like those of Terry and Gilliam. He’s undoubtedly a visionary, but one who lacks any basic concept of scope management. As a film fan, this can produce wonderful and amazing results (Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) but can also lead to frustrations. Such as having to wait 29 years for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. You have to go back all the way to 1995 for Gilliam’s most commercially successful film, 12 Monkeys.

After a deadly virus was released in 1996 which almost wiped out humankind, the survivors were forced to live underground. A prisoner, James Cole (Bruce Willis), is selected and trained to travel back in time from the year 2035 to locate the original virus. He’s accidentally transported to 1990 only to be sectioned in a mental hospital by Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), where he encounters Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), a fellow patient with extreme views.

12 Monkeys is a film brimming with big ideas and teeming with moments of inventiveness and brilliance. Inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetée and written by Janey and David Peoples, Gilliam aims for the stars and reaches them on several occasions. Whilst Willis and Pitt throw themselves into their roles, it’s Madeleine Stowe whose performance grounds the story in (a slightly altered) reality. 12 Monkeys is an intriguing post-apocalyptic thriller which revels in mystery.


  • Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam
  • Optional DTS 5.1 Master Audio and 2.0 stereo soundtracks
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven
  • The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
  • The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival
  • Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam
  • The Twelve Monkeys Archives
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials

12 Monkeys is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 15 October.

Previous LFF Review: Happy as Lazzaro
Next Incoming: First Man

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