“12 Monkeys” is adapted from the French short film “La jetée”, it is a story about the man James(Bruce Willis) from the future return to the past finding clues about the 12 monkeys army to save human beings from genocide. James’s encounter of misunderstanding and under arrest echoes with one of the phenomena mention “Cassandra Complex” in the film, which originates in Greek mythology. Cassandra was provided with the gift of prophecy but was cursed that nobody would believe her. Cassandra was left with the knowledge of future events but could neither alter these events nor convince others of the validity of her predictions. James acts like a prophet in the film, usually, the prophet also served as savior, but he is not a savior this time. Instead, he is misunderstood by most of the people except the psychiatrist heroine until last. The prophet is brutally treated, even was sent into the mental institution, which suggests a Greek tragedy-like ending. The beginning of 12 monkeys depicting the future is full of cyberpunk elements but bizarre and plastic, inheriting the style from Terry Gilliam’s previous film “Brazil” which is also sci-fi, with a dystopic background. The whole story points to the end of revealing the irreversible nature of the future, and it is dark.

the prophecy process by the possibility of time travel in the film. The concept of “time travel” first came to the public in H.G.Wells’ book “Time Machine”, it is still a fresh take even for now to put “time” and “travel” together, for the phrase at the first time expand the realm of travel from space to time and space.12 monkeys created a loop future when Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” is repeating every day, the past cannot be reversed in “12 monkeys” while everything is getting better little by little in “Groundhog Day”.While the future is separately dark and bright which shows a different attitude of directors towards technology and time, it is also varies based on the different pattern of the time travel theories, which are “Non-dynamic Theory of Time” (NDTT) and “Dynamic Theory of Time” (DTT). One of the reasons that the dark future is created in literature and books, lies in the lack of consciousness that people using high-technology freely, time travel which seems only happened in sci-fi happened every day, because of the function of human brains that we memorize and recall things, those memories act as a module of consciousness, in a sense of we can go back to the past, even it’s not physically but mentally. Go back to the past is claimed to be impossible nowadays according to scientists. a small change in the past will cause a big impact according to the butterfly effect, the butterfly also played an important role in “A sound of Thunder”(2005) which is also a time travel sci-fi.

“The future is not set” is the premise of both films, but what about the past, while NDTT leads to fatalism, does the fatalism affect the future? this is one of the conflicts in”12 Monkeys”.In the film, every effort that James made still inevitably leads to the death of 5 billion people according to the virus, but the interesting part is, the boundary of future and the past is vague in the film, for there are two timepoints,which are 2035, when James is originally from and 1996, the year that the virus began to work.so before December in 1996, for James in the past, it is still the future, but it is past for scientists in 2035, at the end of the film, the woman scientist successfully get the virus on the plane. she didn’t change the fact that 5 billion people are killed but save those who live in the future, according to the time travel paradox, what will happen even those 5 billion were not eradicate? I assume there will be still other ways for 12 monkeys army to process their “purge”

Can the future or past be improved? “Groundhog Day” shows us, it can, but what does it mean if it’s improved? time travel challenges humanity in a way that the past, present or future be changed leads to the missing of the free will which plays an important role in decision making for the consequence of time. people act like puppets in the timeline, whatever they do is in vain, for time traveler can intervene from any time point.

“12 Monkeys” and “Groundhog Day” as the A-side and B-side show what humans can do and cannot do in time traveling, it has something to do with the free will, but mostly it has something to do with how human being face their fears. The creation of science fiction is all about what we learn from the past, and we think of the present and what we expect for the future. Those dilemmas and monsters, xenomorph cannot escape the pattern of our experience, imagination is not developed out of thin air.”12 monkeys” depicted time travel in a more tragic and fatalistic tone, it also shows the limitation of the human, both mentally and ethically.

References
Time and Identity, edited by Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O’Rourke, and Harry S. Silverstein, MIT Press, 2010.

Wallace, David. Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will, edited by Steven Cahn, and Maureen Eckert, Columbia University Press, 2010.

Wasserman, Ryan. Paradoxes of Time Travel, Oxford University Press USA – OSO, 2018.

Bernstein, Mark. Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie Volume 28, Issue 3 Summer 1989, pp. 461-471, online by Cambridge University Press: 13 April 2010.

Rice, Hugh, “Fatalism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .