12 Monkeys Apocalpytic Literature Analysis

The Movie 12 Monkeys and Apocalyptic Literature Issues - Film Poster

Contained in this article is somewhat of a review of the film 12 Monkeys (staring Bruce Willis), though with some analysis of the post-apocalyptic literatary themes contained within the movie. I took a course on post apocalyptic literature in class (as a free elective) and found the content to be very interesting. As a note, there are some spoilers contained within this review; so read at your own risk!

The movie 12 Monkeys is one that touches on a variety of post-apocalyptic topics in a future science fiction world. The future imagined in this film is one in which humanity lives underground, and animals have taken over the surface as a result of a biological war that led to the devastation and near extinction of the human race. The world is very cold, and the focus of the protagonist involves going back in time to determine where the virus started. The actual nature of the world in the present time is very unclear, aside from the few scenes we witness of the world taking place underground (which is primarily a jail and psychiatric ward). On the surface, the world looks cold and only animals are surviving as they would in the wild.

The apocalypse in this film is one that is unchangeable in the current time, though it could have potentially been avoided if people in “the past” were aware of the actions of a handful of individuals working in a high security laboratory on this virus intended to destroy humanity and the environment altogether.

On the whole, I think an apocalypse like this is fairly believable; though with some noticeable flaws. Biological warfare is a major concern, and has the potential to silently wipe out the human race in ways we may not even be able to currently fathom. With that said, it is hard to imagine a virus that will not damage other animal species; especially ones that are so similar in their genetic make-up as human beings (such as monkeys). I also find it difficult to believe in a world where we can travel through time. That is not to say that it isn’t, at least, theoretically possible; but we are minimally a long way off from a time period like that.

On a larger scale, the impact of humanity on the world is very evident in this film; and is even more noticeable in the world we currently live in. Human beings are the greatest destroyers of the environment and other species of animals (some of which are now extinct or in danger of becoming extinct). The potential reality that human beings could wipe themselves out is very believable because of our history of negatively impacting the world. A major influence that is found in this movie results from classic science fiction writers and even a touch of environmental activist ideologies. This latter point is found prominently in the ideology of the Twelve Monkeys group, which is focused on releasing animals from the zoo (as opposed to releasing a deadly virus, as is suspected by the protagonist). These environmentalists wish to set animals free, while another man is devoted to bringing down humanity with a virus. The clash between these two groups is particularly interesting in this film.

In conclusion, I thought 12 Monkeys (with Bruce Willis) was a great film. It is a psychological thriller at heart, and is very well made!