12 Monkeys Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

What is 12 Monkeys about?

So, the plot of the film tells us about a catastrophe, a terrible pandemic, as a result of which only one percent of the entire population of the planet remained by 2035. All survivors have to move to live underground, for disobeying the authorities, James Cole, who was imprisoned for twenty-five years, played by the unsurpassed Bruce Willis, gets a chance to free himself, get a pardon, and benefit all of humanity.

And he “only” has to go back in time, bring the virus with him before the mutation in order to give scientists the opportunity to invent a fairly effective vaccine.

Of course, James cannot immediately get into the desired year 1996, but ends up in the 90th by mistake, where he is recognized as crazy and sent to a psychiatric hospital. At this point, Jim Cole meets Reilly, his psychiatrist. And for the second time, our hero finds himself on the fronts of the First World War, even getting wounded in the leg.

And finally, by 1996, Cole manages to kidnap Katherine and they can begin to act together. And now the psychiatrist and the patient, acting together, are trying to find the culprit in the rapid spread of the virus, which led to the death of almost all of humanity, and to prevent it.

The meaning of the movie 12 monkeys

A dream that repeats throughout life

One of the symbolic moments of the feature film is a dream that haunts the protagonist since childhood. The same scene in which there is a shootout at the airport, where the girl holds the man’s hand, covered in blood. As the film progresses, Cole realizes that the girl is Reilly, just with a different hairstyle and hair color.

By the end, James deciphers his dream – it turns out that as a small child he was in this very place and saw this scene with his own eyes.

Reilly’s epiphany

The news illuminates Katherine – the news broadcasts news about the missing boy (the same information voiced by James is confirmed), and new facts are revealed: according to the results of the examination, the bullet in Cole’s leg is 1920 or even earlier. And the photograph of the beginning of the 20th century depicts him.

In the course of these events, James Cole nevertheless admits his insanity, and Katherine, on the contrary, concludes that he is right and has not lost his mind at all. Everything leads to the fact that soon 5 billion inhabitants of the planet Earth may die, it is necessary to take radical actions.

At the same moment, another message of the film appears – psychiatry is the same religion, just a new one. After all, we decide what is right and what is not. Who can be called a psycho and who is “normal”, hence the problem, the main conflict: I am afraid of losing my faith.

Power above all

The villain himself, who in his plans has the spread of a deadly virus throughout the planet, ends up on a plane at the end of the film, and a scientist from 2035 is in the next chair next to him. The authorities of the future, apparently, know everything, but James Cole does not receive any task to destroy the terrorist. So the administration does not intend to change anything.

The world from the future in the film has nothing to do with utopian ideas – it is a kind of prison and mental hospital without the slightest hint of joy. People do not have the right to choose, all actions are controlled by the authorities. Full control of all areas, and most importantly, the execution of orders. The top that rules people is not at all interested in changing the fate of the dead five billion people.

Alternative semantic version

Some part of the film audience adheres to the idea of ​​paranoid schizophrenia of the protagonist. If you believe this theory, then all the events of the film are just a projection of James, in other words, everything happens only in Cole’s fantasies. In confirmation: terribly similar locations of an underground prison and a clinic for the mentally ill, a guard in the hospital and the inner voice of the hero.

Although the hero himself at the end of the film is already ready to agree with his condition, now the psychiatrist is convincing him. Opponents of the alternative version give their rather iron arguments: The way Cole disappeared from a locked cell and a bullet from the times of the First World War.

The meaning of the movie 12 monkeys

Young James is the boy who saw his death at the airport. He is leaving, which means that everything that should have happened will happen. Is history really predetermined, and everyone who tries to change it is doomed to failure from the start? After all, the tragedy of Cassandra lies precisely in the fact that she has a vision of the future, but there is no opportunity to change it … Films of this level cannot be interpreted directly and unambiguously – the viewer is given the opportunity to draw their own conclusions.

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