March 18, 2013

12 Angry Men

Sidney Lumet, 1957


Twelve men of various ages and socioeconomic backgrounds are on a jury to decide the fate of a boy accused of stabbing his father to death. If there is a guilty verdict, that boy will most certainly be put in the electric chair. They take an immediate casual vote to see if they are all on the same page and can end the case quickly so they can quickly adjourn and get on with the rest of their lives. This doesn't happen so efficiently  The one "not guilty" vote by an anonymous juror creates turmoil. What follows is an examination of morality, compassion, and honesty. While Lumet's Network feels dated, this film does not. These themes are timeless. The film was shot so well, especially given the limited amount of space used. The entire film is basically set in the deliberation room. The room was humid and grimy, with the constant curls of cigarette smoke inching its way toward the ceiling off the broken-in wooden table. The build up of the humidity in the room climaxed with a thunder-storm that paralleled the tension. The perfectly crafted TENSION is brilliantly applied. They enter this room almost certain of their decision. As the lone challenger begins to scrutinize the details of the case, they not only examine the case with such detail but they are ultimately forced to look into themselves and their pasts. Their compassion builds as they put themselves in the shoes of the boy. You as the viewer do the same. By the end of the film I was even questioning my own personal stance on capital punishment. 12 Angry Men was nominated for 3 Oscars and is currently #6 on IMDB's Top 250, and deservedly so. You can feel the influence that it has on so many films that have followed.

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