Twelve Monkeys

Movie made: 1995 | Set in: Circa 2030s

Summary Table
Event Likelihood Time frame
Devastating global pandemic low 2010+
Time travel extremely low? 2030+

Approach to the future

Scenario and symbolism

The future is more metaphor than prediction in this film. Patched together and distorted, the future has an undercurrent of irrationality, resembling that of Brazil, also by Terry Gilliam.


Futurism: 8

Entertainment: 7
Apocalypse approaches obliquely in this multi-layered, disturbing movie.

Plausibility: 2
The near-term time travel makes it unlikely; the pandemic alone is quite possible.

Interesting depictions

The global pandemic that kills 99% of the populace is unseen but looms with increasing force. The few scenes of the world abandoned to nature are powerful.

In nature, an organism that spreads easily and kills virtually all of its hosts is unlikely, as it would threaten its own survival.

But someone could genetically engineer an organism that combines the three necessary characteristics: enough incubation time, lethality, and easy spread. It could be done now—and in fact governments may already have created engineered bioweapons.

A government would not employ such a weapon, but millennial cults have proven that they will use whatever capabilities they can acquire.

Other technologies/topics depicted

Time travel:
In the future, it is possible to send people back in time, and recall them, a remarkable advance to achieve by the 2030s, given the devastated state of civilization.

Wholly new physics would have to be discovered to allow this. The circumstantial evidence—that no time travelers have ever been recorded—suggests time travel may never be possible.

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The futures depicted in the movies