12 Angry Men


“Suppose we're wrong?”

From 12 Angry Men, 1957

12 Angry Men, an American drama film was directed by Sidney Lumet and the film was adapted from a teleplay by Reginald Rose under the same title. The movie revolves around a Jury consisting 12 men who are supposed to decide whether the defendant, a Teenage boy who has been accused of murdering his father is guilty or not on the basis of reasonable doubt. A notable thing in this film is that out of the entire movie length of 96 minutes, 88 minutes have been taken in a jury room and only 8 minutes of the time was spent outside.The movie starts at a point where the judge gives an instruction to the jury to give a unanimous verdict after the final closing arguments. The jury is to decide whether the teenage boy is guilty or innocent. The jury is further instructed that if the boy is found guilty, the boy will be facing a mandatory death sentence. A non–unanimous verdict would result in a hung jury thus forcing a mistrial. The jury of 12 men retires to the jury room to acquaint with each other’s personalities.

During Initial voting 11 of the jurors vote ‘Guilty’ and juror number 8 is the lone dissenter who states that the evidence presented are circumstantial and the need of the hour is a fair judgment and he questions the accuracy and reliability of the ‘Old Man’ and ‘the lady across the street’ who are the only two witnesses to the murder. After several strong points, Jury 8 requests for another vote by secret ballot and he would abstain from voting. He further adds that if others vote unanimously, he would abide by their decision.

Jury 9 is the first to support Juror 8 and after hearing further deliberations Jury 5 changes his vote to ‘not guilty’ and jury 3 criticizes him that he changed his vote since he has sympathy over slum children as he(Jury 3) himself grew up in slum in his childhood. Juror 11 who flees at this point of time returns three hours later to retrieve his knife changes his vote as ‘Not guilty’. Further deliberations led to jurors 4 and 6 to change their votes as ‘Not guilty’ resulting in a 6-6 vote tie. Juror 7 too changes his vote as ‘Not guilty’ since he has booked baseball tickets at 7pm that day and when pressed by juror 11, he adds that he doesn’t find the boy guilty.

When Juror 8 further demonstrated that it is highly unlikely that one witness saw the boy flee, Jurors 12 and 1 change their votes in favor of 8 thus making it 9-3. Juror 10 is confused why others are changing their votes and Juror 4 states the witness of woman who saw the murder across the street as a ‘solid evidence’ thus makes juror 8 to change his decision and the vote is now 8-4. On seeing Juror 4 rubbing his nose, Juror 9 points out that the witness who alleged to have seen the murder has impressions in the sides of her nose and it is unlikely that she was wearing spectacles when the incident took place which made Jurors 12, 4 and 10 to change their votes as ‘Not Guilty’.

Juror 3 after a long confrontation with juror 8 finally breaks down after tearing up a picture of him and his son furiously. At this time, it has been revealed that the Juror 3 has not seen his son in the last two years. The final unanimous decision is that the defendant is found Not Guilty off –screen and the jurors leave the room. Finally, Jurors 8(Davis) and 9(McArdle) exchange names whereas all the other jurors remained nameless throughout the movie even as they are discussing commercial real estate properties in the bathroom. In 2007, the Library of Congress selected the film 12 Angry Men for preservation in the National Film Registry.

12 Angry Men is an excellent courtroom drama movie with many unique twists and turns. It is the grasping, penetrating and fascinating movie of a different group of twelve jurors who are brought together in a murder trial case. The film is a powerful accusation and expose of the trial by jury system. This movie's greatness lies in its bringing together 12 different men who has never met each other before.

There is an 18 year old young boy who has been condemned of murdering his father. He is being brought in court for his conviction and the jury needs to decide whether he should be punished or served a death sentence. The law states that the decision of the jury should be in complete agreement of the 12 jurors and if even any one of the juror has a doubt in his mind about the case, the accused boy cannot be proved guilty. The 12 jurors get inside a single room and are given all the time they need to conclude to their final decision. When all jurors sits for the agreement, 11 jurors backs up the decision for the death sentence of the accused person, But Juror no. 8 (Henry Fonda) has a reasonable doubt in his mind and until that is not cleared a complete agreement cannot be done. As the boy is to be executed if found guilty, his life remains in the hands of the jury and juror no. 8 reasons.

As the time goes along some of the jurors change their minds like different Obama items to have enough doubt not to declare the young man guilty. But not everyone supports the view of juror no. 8 to the case and it becomes hard to convince them. Some of severe jurors like juror no. 3 (Lee J. Cobb)who has a personal reason to see boy behind the bars, juror no.7 (Jack Warden), who is in a hurry to catch a baseball game that he has tickets for, and juror no.10 (Ed Begley), who is indisputably convinced that the boy is a criminal, starts to argue the support of juror no.8(Henry Fonda) for the accused boy .The story revolves around the character Henry Fonda who tries to convince each and every jurors that the boy is not guilty of committing the crime.

This movie is exceptionally directed by Aaron Todd Douglas as it is not easy to cast 12 actors and manage their roles. It's like they needed divorce mediation help or something. The audience is given enough time to understand the character of each and every juror in a single court room. Within the first few minutes when you grab the essence of the plot, you know you are in for a big treat. Many times in the story things do not happen in the exact same manner as shown in the movie. It is a kind of movie that needs attention and understanding of the audiences and the one that would leave anybody overwhelmed right till the end. This film is a perfect example of a lucid movie making that does not need any special sets to entertain its viewers.

This is a must watch classic entertainer and will be the most entertaining movie of all times.

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