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May 1996, Week 1


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Mark Allen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 5 May 1996 19:24:56 -0800
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This letter will respond to everyone who referenced me:
Nick Elliot, El Amante Cine, and jajasoon in that order.
Nick Elliott wrote:
>Like Mark I was impressed by 12 Monkeys yet came away thinking that
>there were gaps in the narrative that I had missed. What were the two
>holes in the script?
Okay, I'll try to remember that far back.
The first problem is that the Madelene Stowe character thinks that there is
something familiar about the Bruce Willis character.  This is somewhat
acceptable because Bruce is in that picture from the world war I image.
HOWEVER, when she puts the fake beard and glasses on Bruce she says that
THAT is how she remembers him.  There are (I believe) a couple other
references like that.  Well, how is THAT how she remembers him.  A simple
omission would have solved that problem.
This is not a hole, but I found it unbelievable:  If they have a hard time
finding the right time period for people to land in, isn't it a little bit
unbelievable that they would make the mistake of sending two people to the
exact period twice (wwI) and then at the end (when it is necessary) the are
suddenly able to get the people there.  I wasn't totally convinced by the
logic of this time machine.
There was something else plot significant that is not coming to mind now.
One little thing that bothered me was that he had ripped out his teeth, but
then it didn't seem like they were gone at the end of the film.  Making a
film that tests reality vs. fantasy, it seems necessary to be extremely
cautious with your continuity.
None of these for me spoiled the film and all the FABULOUS details like the
very brief glance at Willis's notebook that looked like the scrawlings of a
mad man just when we're starting to think he isn't crazy.
El Amante Cine wrote:
>I agree and I desagree. The script is clever (although I wouldn=B4t call it
>an "adaptation") and the screenwriters do deserve the credit for that. But
>a clever script doesn=B4t make a work of art (at least in the sense La jete=
>is such a thing). In this particular case, the main obstacle is the 13th
>monkey in the film: director Terry Gilliam, who's heavy hand can ruin not
>only the feeling and subtilities of La jettee but also the convolutions of
>the script as well.
I agree and disagree as well.  I do think Terry's heavy hand which made art
out of Brazil may have added a couple too many bells and whistles to this
parade.  A friend of mine says this about filmmaking:  A film is like a ham
sandwhich.  You need to make sure you have a proportionate amount of
lettuce, tomato, mayonaise, mustard, and bread to the amount of your ham.
Gilliam has the habit of adding a LOT of mayo and really thick bread; so
much so that at times it is difficult to find the ham (the source and
spirit and reason) of the film.
However, what I do respect him for (speaking as someone who has and does
direct film) is his ability to wrangle such wide spread material into a
coherant story.  That is a great challenge and he did it well (despite the
couple holes I mentioned earlier).
Also, I think it is far too easy to call something black and white and
different "art".  There is the art of experimentation and the art of
emotion.  I tend to believe it is far more difficult to reveal something
truly unique and profound about the human condition than it is to find a
new way of making a film.
Both La Jetee and 12 monkeys in this way perhaps suffer from the same
problem of a little too much mayo and a lot too much lettuce.
jajasoon wrote:
>Why can't people accept the fact that this film can be read in tons of
>different ways & stop trying to discover the author's intention and
>accurate reading?  Let ambiguity thrive!
The fact that I state an opinion with no uncertain terms does not at all
mean that I am not open to alternatives.  Think of it from the alternative
perspective:  Would you really want to read the opinion of someone who
didn't believe in what they were saying?
Mark Allen
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