12 Monkeys

Book12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys



August 20th, 2019

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Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys (1995) was a commercial and critical success, but it is Gilliam’s least understood film, even on the basic plot level. Aside from recognizable debts to specific films such as La Jetée (1962) and Dr. Strangelove (1964), 12 Monkeys plays with a number of genres: apocalypse and postapocalypse movies, sci-fi, nuclear noir, and what is becoming known as “geek dystopia.” This volume in the Constellations series examines Gilliam’s film—and briefly the TV series based on it—in the context of post-apocalypse movies and with an eye to the film’s major themes, including mental illness, conspiracy theories, the impossibility of human closeness, and the nature of reality. It is the first to read 12 Monkeys’s portrayal of time travel in light of Einstein’s ideas about time and to ask what answers these ideas suggest to the film’s most basic philosophical predicament: the problem of free will versus determinism.

'One of the most admirable aspects of this book is Kord’s clear, engaging writing. This book is not only insightful but also a pleasure simply to read for the vividness and elegance of its prose. Kord is adept at communicating complex scholarly ideas in understandable language... This book makes an important contribution to Gilliam scholarship and should be read by anyone interested in the study of his films, but it is also eminently readable by a general audience.'Dominick Grace, SFRA Review

Author Information

Susanne Kord is a professor at University College London. She is the author of ten books (four about film) and has received six major awards for her writing. Her most recent film book is Little Horrors: How Cinema’s Evil Children Play on Our Guilt (2016). She lives in London.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. 'A Spectacular Mess': Synopsis8
2. Pushing the (Reset) Button: Why You Can’t Start Over14
3. ‘Thank you, Einstein’: Why You Can’t Turn Back Time18
4. On Mis/Perceptions of Reality30
5. The Human Condom and Other Signs of Loneliness46
6. Free Will, Determinism and Doing What You’re Told64
7. Strangers on a Plane: On Not Answering the Big Question78
8. More Monkeys: The TV series84
9. Coda: Gilliam’s Art of the Possible96