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In 12 Monkeys, James Cole has some tattoos, one on the back of his neck looks like a bar-code and another on the side of his neck near to the ear looks like some digits.

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Is there any significance to those tattoos? They are shown various times in the film.

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I think the bar code is just part of his prisoner identity (and maybe the digits also?). –  Napoleon Wilson Sep 20 '13 at 10:51
    
@ChristianRau also though the same but there is no mention of it in the film. May be someone can elaborate it. –  Ankit Sharma Sep 20 '13 at 10:53
    
Need screenshot. :/ –  Mistu4u Sep 20 '13 at 16:31
    
@Mistu4u added, but its not too clear. –  Ankit Sharma Sep 21 '13 at 5:27
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Introduction to Twelve Monkeys from the Programme Notes:

And, his stark look was further enhanced by his makeup artist, Cristina Bartolucci, who, everyday, etched a trio of tattoos onto Willis' scalp and neck - one that indicated his prisoner number, and a pair of bar-codes, the kind imprinted on packaged goods, on each side of his neck.

This is also repeated on Wikipedia:

The actor had a trio of tattoos drawn onto his scalp and neck each day when filming: one that indicated his prisoner number, and a pair of barcodes on each side of his neck.

I don't think that there's any particular significance to the tattoos other than to emphasise the dystopian undercurrent in the story and remind us every now and then that Cole is actually a prisoner (from the future).

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+1, seems the right answer. –  Ankit Sharma Sep 20 '13 at 13:01
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