12 Angry Men - The Nature of Prejudice


                               "Wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth." Who would have thought that a movie which almost entirely takes place in one room, consists of 12 men who do nothing but talk -- and who don't even have names -- would be such a charming experience? The 12 Angry Men are a jury, a body of peers chosen to decide the guilt or innocence of a teenager. They have heard the arguments of the district attorney and the defense lawyer. They have received instructions from the presiding judge. Now they are on their own. What will they do? 12 Angry Men is a classic, a film that is as inspiring as it is well-crafted behind the scenes. 

                           12 Angry Men is a cinematic proof that justice and mercy can be found within the system. 

Plot
      The case involves murder. The defendant is an undisclosed minority from the slums, a 18-yr old man accused of killing his father. 12 jurors are asked to decide the fate of this young man. The evidence is overwhelmingly against him.  Two eyewitnesses, a murder weapon known to be bought by the killer, and an alibi that he couldn't remember during questioning. 


                     Open and shut, but one juror stands alone against the other 11, who'd like to get home in time for dinner. And with that single 'not guilty' vote, Henry Fonda's Juror #8 sets off this wonderful cinematic experience.

Analysis
                12 Angry Men is based on the television play by Mr. Reginald Rose. Rose's script is a tense, structured drama, which is organized around the legal system and its crucial role in supporting social justice and conquering the worst human tendencies.

                 Juror #8(Henry Fonda, who also co-produced the film with Rose), is at first the only holdout on the jury. All the other members are sure that the defendant is guilty and are ready to vote within minutes of assembling in the jury room. Fonda’s character doesn’t think the defendant is not guilty, but he isn’t sure that he is guilty either; regardless, he is adamant that the case merits additional discussion. Of everyone in the room, he seems to be the most acutely aware of the significance of their task, while the others are either comfortable with their assurance of guilt or are simply anxious to finish the job and go home to their lives. 


                   The suspense comes in waiting for each juror to turn, and Rose's script does an efficient job of painting a portrait of each man that gives us an insight into their motivations. He is aided and abetted by an impressive cast. The debut director Sidney Lumet had quite a task with an unusual project as well as an unusually low budget. But, he met every challenge, bringing a precise eye to the set. Boris Kaufman's camera creates a feeling of jury room claustrophobia with numerous and varied close-ups that add to the psychological aspects. For such a small set, the camera work is dynamic. 

                  Few films have ever telegraphed their endings so clearly and incessantly; from the early moment when Henry Fonda persuades his first fellow juror to vote note guilty there isn't a doubt in the world about the eventual verdict. Yet despite the certainty of its resolution, "12 Angry Men" is a taut realistic thriller. "12 Angry Men" largely missed with audiences despite Henry Fonda's star power, but it was a hit with critics at the time and has more than held up to the test of time.


                 12 Angry Men offers a hopeful look at the American justice system. When one part of the system fails, another part fills in. This is not, of course, always the case, but 12 Angry Men still impresses as a compellingly realized depiction of how noble-mindedness and dedication can ultimately outdo narrow-mindedness and prejudice.

Trailer

 
 12 Angry Men - Imdb                  

20 comments:

liberalcynic said...

I saw it a few years ago. It's a great movie. Good acting, especially from disgruntled father who holds out till the end. However, you should check out this article which analyzes the legality of juries conducting their own investigations.

Venkataraman Ramachandran said...

Liked your blog post except for this line..12 Angry Men is a cinematic proof that justice and mercy can be found within the system...Having seen the movie several times and also having seen the theatrical version of it recently, I would argue for several hours, if you are interested,why I strongly resent your statement..:) Good writing!

Navin Mathew said...

I simply love this movie.
Infact I've played this movie at many seminars for leadership.
Top Pick!

Arun said...

@liberalcynic, Thanks for the comment and for visiting my blog. Checked the article. It's great, a wonderful analysis.

Arun said...

@Venkataraman Ramachandran, Thanks for visiting my blog. As i have said at the ending of the review, the movie offers a hopeful view of American justice system, even though it doesn't happen often. Yeah, i agree that the statement u mentioned is a bit exaggerated one.

@Navin Mathew, Thanks for your comment. Keep visiting the blog.

D.Nambiar said...

This really is a classic. You make me want to watch it once again.

Murtaza Ali said...

Great movie and a fantastic review. 12 Angry man is undoubtedly one of the greatest specimens of movie-making in American Cinema. It has also been remade into a Hindi movie called Ek Ruka Hua Faisla (1986). Kudos to you for writing such an insightful review!!!

ambar parashar said...

Good review again,now i will catch this flick...

Arun said...

@D.Nambiar, Thanks for your comment. Keep visiting.

@Murtaza Ali, Thanks for the comment. Didn't know that it was remade into a Hindi movie, thank you.

@ambar parashar, Thanks for your comment, and do watch the movie.

Swapna said...

I saw this movie on TV when I was quite young just 12 or so but even then I loved it and could understand the inherent battle of good vs evil in each man. It is surely a classic and a must watch.

Mak said...

One of the beautifully scripted & directed movie Arun. Watched this recently.

Arun said...

@Swapna, Thanks for the comment. Keep visiting.

@Mak, Thanks for your comment.

Haricharan Pudipeddi said...

Great review Arun. Sad that this film was badly remade in Hindi as 'Ek Ruka Hua Faisla' and it sucked big time. Wonder why do we resort to copying and actually end up messing up

Protik Basu said...

I think more than it being relegated to a mere american experience, I like the movie for the fact that it shows the potential for one dissent to change the tide. The fact that it is important to stand up for the niggling little man of truth inside...

Arun said...

Haricharan Pudipeddi, Thanks for your comment. Yeah, we resort to copying and actually kill the soul of a movie.

Protik Basu, Thanks for your comment. I also like this movie for the truth a man, attains through persuasion.

shIrIn said...

Good review. I have seen the Hindi version of the same 'Ek Ruka Hua Faisla'. Was equally brilliant.

Arun said...

@shlrln, Thanks for your comment. Keep visiting.

Aline HindiCinemaBlog said...

Excellent film here too, Arun. I also recommend Nikita Mikhalkov's Russian version of 12 Angry Men called simply "12". I personally feel it is the best version to date.

Arun said...

@Aline, Thanks for commenting. I have watched Mikhalkov's version of the movie, and found it very interesting.

Raghav said...

Nice review but for some reason I've always enjoyed the Indian version Ek Ruka Hua Faisla a lot more than the classic.