‘Twelve Monkeys’ and the Philly virus

Feel like a little nostalgia today?

It’s been 25 years since the Bruce Willis action/sci fi drama “Twelve Monkeys” was shot in the city of Brotherly Love — and at its heart was a Philly-launched virus that wiped out 5 billion people, 99% of the earth’s population, driving the remainder underground to be safe from the deadly germs in the air.

Philadelphia in the future?

Under Terry Gilliam’s direction, Willis plays a visitor from the future sent back to 1996 to stop the launch of the virus. The film was made in 1995 and featured creations of what an abandoned Philadelphia looked like. (What it may soon look like?) The villain we learn — this is hardly a spoiler alert — is an evil scientist and guess what? He’s not Chinese!

I interrupt the narrative to note that “Twelve Monkeys” was one of many movies and TV shows that were shot in Philadelphia, thanks in part to the Philadelphia Film Office, headed by Sharon Pinkenson, she of her trademark explosion of blonde curls. Over the years, she put Philly on producers’ radar and that resulted in work for Philly actors, bodies in Philly hotels, and movie-crew orders for Philly food and drink.

Due to the virus taking a whack at Philly’s tax receipts, funding for the film office, which flows through the City Rep’s office, has been eliminated. With the city in crisis, I can see why tax money can’t go there, but I am hoping some of the beneficiaries of the film largesse will raise private money to support the office.

Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt as mental patients

Back to “Twelve Monkeys.” The acting standout was Brad Pitt as an inmate of a mental hospital where Bruce Willis gets sent, because no one believes he came from the distant future. Pitt plays a retard with a propensity for saying crazy things that somehow make sense. For instance: “There is no right, there is no wrong. There is just public opinion.” (Oh, for the PC police: I know I am not supposed to say “retard.” And that’s why I did.)

I am not going to give away the (25-year-old) ending, but at the time, would we have believed what a real pandemic would visit upon our world?

13 thoughts on “‘Twelve Monkeys’ and the Philly virus”

    You bring up many interesting point in your always interesting blogs. I am not familiar with “Twelve Monkeys”. I do remember when Philly was a haven for Hollywood. Money Money MONEY was made by all, when a movie was made here. Many a wannabe actor had a bit in a crowd scene. We were building the Girard Trust (Meridian ) highrise in ’68. On a rainy day, we didn’t work, so that gave many a construction worker a reason ( HA! ) to drink. A scene was being shot in an alley, somewhere downtown. A bunch of ” drunken Indians ” TRUE. started throwing things down at the actors. Long story short. Cops come up to quiet the Indians. Indian picks up cop and is about to thrown cop off building. Cops kill bad Indian . Most of those tribal members were brothers. That’s the way it still is. The young bucks travel together to find work. They go home to the “reserve” when they can. No work on the reserve, only poverty. So the rest of the brothers are released from jail. Going back to the reserve, the car breaks down, As the brothers are trying to fix their car, one of them is killed by a speeding motorist. The family name is Shenandoah. Leroy was killed by the cops. He was a Green Beret. He stood “watch” over President John F Kennedy, in the rotunda.
    just say’n’.
    stay well,

    1. Tony – while I won’t comment on your Native American observation(s), I will tell you to find “12 Monkeys” somewhere in the ether and watch it. It was as good back then as it is nearly apropos now. A worthwhile hunt.

    1. Add me too to the objections to your characterization of the intellectually challenged. I’m not usually a PC freak, but this is a terrible pejorative and an ugly word. You should know better.

  2. I always get a snicker out of the PC Police — always ready to take offense. BTW, I was born here, so I consider myself a ‘native American.’

    TWELVE MONKEYS was a very good movie, and it requires intense concentration, as the story goes back and forth from the past to the future to the present. And some great CGI turns Philadelphia into a vast wasteland, sorta like it has become (thanks to Democrat rule for so many years).

    1. Vince,
      In T.V. cowboy and Injun movies, you would be considered “white eyes”. If you ever get the chance. Take a good look at one of the real people, as they are called. You can follow that rounded off white ( red skin ) complexion right back to Eurasia. The Mongols are almost identical to the Native American Indian. (we call us skin )
      If I can track down TWELVE MONKEYS, I’ll watch it. It’s not on NETFLIX by contract to HULU.
      stay well,

      1. I did a term paper on the geology of the Bering Straits area. There used to be a land bridge connecting what is now Alaska to what is now Russia. As you noted, Mongols and other Asians migrated to what is now the USA. The American Indiana has features inherited from these migrants. As sea levels rose, the land bridge disappeared.

        If you get TWELVE MONKEYS, Tony, pay close attention. Every time travel segment has meaning.

  3. Thanks for using the word “retard.” Mainly because I like to see people’s reaction. What fun!

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