The interesting thing about Vertigo was how it started working its way into [Twelve Monkeys] far more than originally planned. What was in the script from the start was the scene in Vertigo where Jimmy Stewart goes to the redwood trees—which, of course, comes from La Jette. There were a couple of references to the original dialogue from Vertigo, but when we shot the scene we kept strictly to [screenwriters] David and Jan [People’s] dialogue.
When Mick Audsley started cutting it together, he made a different scene from what was written because there was more on the actual Vertigo soundtrack that started working in a quite magical way. Mick created an extraordinary dialogue between the script and the film.
In the script Katherine was a blonde and she puts on a black wig as disguise. Since Madeleine [Stowe] has dark hair, we gave her a blond wig and put a trenchcoat on her, with the result that, when Bruce [Willis] sees her in the lobby of the cinema, it’s a totally Hitchcockian moment . . . with a Hitchcock blonde to boot.
The music in the background is from Vertigo and Mick had grabbed a piece that seemed to work. Then we needed a better version of it, which involved going back to the film to find where exactly it came from. None of us had looked at the video while working on the film, and we discovered that this music came from the scene where Judy has been remade as the blonde Madeleine and appears before Jimmy—and the scene is cut exactly as we had cut ours, even up to the end where they embrace and the room starts spinning. I’d actually done a shot in the cinema foyer and, because it was circular, I’d put Madeleine and Bruce on a turntable so that they floated while the room spun around them. Was this not Vertigo remaking itself without us realizing it? We sat in the cutting room and couldn’t believe it. It was spooky. If I had left in the spinning kiss, it would have been the exact Vertigo scene—and people would have said I was just stealing from it—but, since it was unnecessary, I left it out.
I suppose David and Jan had foreseen that these would begin to interact, even if you weren’t mimicking Vertigo consciously.
No, they hadn’t. Vertigo was purely and simply a reference in the script; and the fact that Katherine would be blonde wasn’t predicted—it only happened because of casting Madeleine Stowe. You begin to think there must be Platonic scenes already in existence, which just have to be remade.
—Terry Gilliam and Ian Christie, Gilliam On Gilliam