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12 Angry Men

Essay by review  •  November 29, 2010  •  Essay  •  579 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,048 Views

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As Sidney Lumet's "12 Angry Men" begins, a courtroom has just finished the trial of an 18-year-old boy accused of knifing his father to death. Once inside the jury room, and after a couple of minutes of get-to-know-you conversation, a preliminary vote is called for. Most seem to reason that the boy is obviously guilty. Most have families to get home to; others are looking forward to that evening's Yankee game; still others just want to get out of the hot and stuffy room (complete with a broken fan). But when the vote is taken, the show of hands indicates that there is one dissenter. The remainder of the film, played out in near real-time, shows how this one unassuming man leads his colleagues on a tour through the case, the defendant's life, and the American justice system. As he says, "It's not easy to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first".

Henry Fonda plays the lone dissenter, identified only as Juror #8. All the men are identified only by their jury numbers, which serves to render them anonymous, giving more weight to the content of their ideas than their identities. We learn very few things about the characters, other than what we can observe by watching and listening to them. The one thing we do learn about #8 is that he's an architect. He begins not necessarily believing in the accused's innocence, but more unwilling to follow along with the crowd just because that's the easy way out. Juror #8 works his way through the irrationality and ignorance of the other men, until a unanimous vote of "not guilty" Is reached.

Although "12 Angry Men" is probably not representative or realistic with regards to most jury deliberations, I still found it intensely fascinating; mostly because of the discussion of ideas and the social discourse between people of different social backgrounds and biases. I liked that from the beginning of the movie, Juror #8 is wearing an all-white suit, whereas the other men around him wear mostly dark sport coats (almost as to be a visual representation of his lone struggle). However, as the argument begins to wear the others down, they slowly take off their jackets to reveal white shirts underneath.

Because of the great acting and script, it allowed for excellent character development. We got to know a lot about each character and his background, and I like the way the film establishes

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