Movie Review: 12 Angry Men

Posted on September 30, 2012 in Media and Culture

By Shaifali Agrawal:

Our rating: 4.5/5

’12 Angry Men‘ is a 1957 American Drama Film about twelve jurors taking on the murder case where a boy was alleged for knifing his father to death. The discussion, as per the storyline, is supposed to go on till all the jury members come to a unanimous decision of the defendant being guilty or otherwise, the verdict deciding whether the boy will live or die. Except for one person (Jury no. 8, played by Henry Fonda) who is ready to give the accused the benefit of doubt, the jury room is occupied by eleven disinterested jurors, arguing on why one should waste time on an open-and —shut case. But as the movie unfolds, we see Fonda working on the clues by acutely using mathematics and physics, challenging the eleven jurors and arousing them to question the obvious.

The entire movie has used just one set, the jury room and only three minutes out of the ninety-six minute movie are spent outside the room. The deliberate use of a single set keeps us fixed onto our spot as the tension on the screen rises and it starts to rain outside at the time when the argument is at its apex, and the facts and clues are now seen from a different angle and we as an audience are left embroiled in the case. Juror #3 (Lee J. Cobb), bent on not seeing the now clear case in favour of the suspect, is estranged from his own son and views the case on a personal note.

The movie is a refined mixture of an intellectual argument, a human discourse of twelve clashing personalities stuck in a small room with no ventilation and a touch of humanity. A clear contrast is depicted between the boring discussion and the baseball game about to take place outside, which is heightened by the sudden power-cut and the hot day dragging on to a hotter night, the characters being disinterested in the whole jury discussion going on at the same time. Reginald Rose has artistically written the dichotomy, with the dull room acting as the backdrop for the argument which slowly progresses and manages to beautifully capture our attention till the very end.

Sidney Lumet has extracted the best performances from Fonda and Cobb in this movie and by virtue of its taut plot, ‘12 angry men‘ is a must watch.

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