Wednesday, May 20, 2009

12 Angry Men

Originally uploaded by gatoconbotas_fc
12 jurors have just sat through a grueling murder trial where an 18 year old boy has been accused of murdering his father and they are tasked with convicting him. Upon entering the jury room 11 of the men are convinced the boy is guilty, but juror 8 is not sure, and for a conviction it must be unanimous. The fight begins with the 11 men trying to convince juror 8 he is wrong, but 8’s conviction never wavers – he insists not that the boy is innocent but that there is enough room for reasonable doubt that the boy didn’t do it and was an unfortunate victim of the system. At first the men are upset because to them the case was open and shut, but 8’s conviction and questions soon start to sway more of the men who realize that they need to truly consider what they are about to become – the boys executioner.

12 Angry Men is one of the classic cinema gems that I had very high expectations for and shockingly it exceeded them. I did not expect 12 men arguing in one room for 90 minutes to be that timeless and invigorating, I knew it could be done because “simple” movies can be amazing, but 12 Angry Men is phenomenal.

I’ve never really considered myself a Henry Fonda fan, it’s not that I don’t like him I just never through about him as an actor. Fonda was phenomenal in this film; he has to stand out as the man against everyone without being bigoted, pushy or anything that would make him unsympathetic to the audience and he excels as the juror who genuinely wants to do what’s right. He wants to do what he was tasked to do, leave all his prejudices and predispositions at the door and simply think about the murder case as an objective outsider.

What is fascinating about 12 Angry Men is that each character is so well defined. They may have numbers instead of names but through the course of the film their personalities become incredibly obvious and Lumet created the film in such a way that each character has their moment as the center of attention. This not only is great for the actors, but incredibly wonderful for the audience as a large ensemble in a cramped space could have been very confusing for the audience. Lumets choice of shots, edits and the level of performance he got out of all of his actors is a thing of beauty and what makes 12 Angry Men an essential film to anyone that claims to have good taste in movies. If you want to make movies I think it’s even more important as it will teach you that a good movie doesn’t need to be big – it just needs to be well made.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Reginald Rose
Juror 1: Martin Balsam
Juror 2: John Fiedler
Juror 3: Lee J. Cobb
Juror 4: E.G. Marshall
Juror 5: Jack Klugman
Juror 6: Ed Binns
Juror 7: Jack Warden
Juror 8: Henry Fonda
Juror 9: Joseph Sweeny
Juror 10: Ed Begley
Juror 11: George Voskovec
Juror 12: Robert Webber

Juror #8: It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don't really know what the truth is. I don't suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we're just gambling on probabilities - we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don't know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that's something that's very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.

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