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Analysis of the 12 Monkeys Time Travel Scene

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Watch the time travelling scene (below) where James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back to World War I by scientists in Terry Gilliam’s “12 Monkeys”.

What’s so interesting about this scene? To begin with, the camera work is superb. In many ways, Terry Gilliam is an old school director who conveys logic behind his staging and camera moves. Gilliam’s audience understands what they are watching even when not understanding what is happening to the characters.

Note that the camera explores this laboratory and quickly we understand that the lab is a product of old (industrial like) technology instead of futuristic technology. The lighting adds to the dark, gritty look and reminds us that the laboratory is a subterranean structure. Various cuts and point of view shots introduce a scientific and clinical process to the preparation of a time traveler.

In our estimation, this is one of the best of sci-fi scenes ever committed to film.

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