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Friday, October 21, 2005

Bruce Willis - Apocalyptic Environmentalist?

AAEA President Norris McDonald recently met Bruce Willis at an event honoring him for his commitment to the environment -- notwithstanding EPA hassling him in Idaho. The event on Randall's Island, in the shadow of Manhattan, made McDonald consider the constrast between the environmentalist Bruce Willis and the apocalyptic environmentalist he portrayed (James Cole) in the movie, '12 Monkeys.' The film begins in our future in the year 2035, and presupposes that the surface of the earth has become uninhabitable by humans due to a viral plague that wiped out 5 billion people beginning in 1996, leaving less than 1% of the world's population to survive in a harsh life underground. The post-apocalyptic scenes of the underground society were shot in an abandoned power plant.

In the year 2035, a team of underworld scientists "volunteer" prison inmate James Cole (played by Bruce Willis) for a special mission: to return in time and find the source of the pure virus, so that a cure might be found that would return humankind to the surface of the earth. The abuses in the minds of lunatic environmental activists are rampant consumerism, animal exploitation and environmental devastation. These abuses are brought to light mainly through the character of Jeffrey Goines (played by Brad Pitt), the mentally ill son of a famous virologist, animal activist and the organizer of "The Army of the Twelve Monkeys."

While detained in a mental asylum with Coles, Goines points to a television and explains the sin of consumerism. As the manic mental patient, Mr. Pitt created a vivid character full of tics and tirades. It is Goines' colleague, the assistant of Goines' virologist father, who steals and purposefully releases the virus that kills 5 billion people. Cole is a messiah figure who ultimately suffers mental derangement by trying to bridge two worlds and ultimately fails to avert the plague of 1996, and in the end cannot even save himself. At the last moment he puts together the actual cause of the disease, reports it, and gets himself killed in an attempt to stop a man from carrying samples of the original virus onto an airplane. The story is brought to a full circle as the young Cole sees his future self shot dead at an airport. In a final scene one of the scientists is shown taking a seat on an airplane next to the man in posession of the original virus, and introducing herself as "in insurance". We are left to conclude that Cole's mission was a success, and provided some hope of salvation for the humanity of his era.

Although some of Bruce's other films, such as 'The Fifth Element' and 'Armageddon,' also have environmental themes and subtexts, '12 Monkeys' is the deepest. And it doesn't hurt that Bruce is one of the coolest actors in Hollywood. He is also not above 'sending up' self righteous, elitist environmentalists in roles: In the opening of 'Armageddon,' Bruce Willis is atop an offshore oil rig amusing himself by driving golf balls at environmental protesters buzzing around below in their zodiac boats.

It is being reported that Halle Berry and Bruce Willis will film a thriller in 2006.
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