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12 Angry Men

Cast: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam
Director: Sidney Lumet

I'm not usually one to watch a black and white film (it's a preference issue), but I've seen a few. However, none could prepare me for the cinematic classic that is 12 Angry Men. Besides knowing the basic plot, I didn't have other information about it, which served me well because if I did know more about it, none of the events unfolding would be a surprise, or at least keep me interested, knowing how things will go. It was a smart, entertaining and captivating film about one man's conviction to be able to give true justice to a case that seem to be a open and close case.

The film takes place in the courthouse, in a room where the jury are hosted to decide on the verdict. On what seem to be a closed case, the initial verdict was overthrown by Jury #8, when he voted that there is a possibility that the accused may not be guilty as everyone thinks he is. The rest of the time is spent discussing the case, revealing information that allows the viewers to understand the premise. At the same time, the viewers get to witness how one man's thoughts and opinions could shape others to dig deeper through the surface, analyzing details as they are presented, and not just accepting what was plain said. 

The whole thrill of the film was how they really went through about the case, from one evidence to another. There was a slew of opinions that you find yourself agreeing with, and then other logical reasoning that makes you think otherwise. There were twelve people, each with their own opinions on the case, and how they put their input is a way of looking further than the surface of the case they were discussing. A man's life is in their hands, and it's only fair that they look through every angle before giving a verdict that may save or end one's life. 

Being an outcast for something as serious as this is difficult, especially when faced with pressure from other people to just stick to the norm. Juror #8 did exactly that. He stood up for what he believed in, and what he thought was right. He respected everyone's decisions and gave input of his own. He didn't allow his judgement to be clouded by everyone else's immediate opinion. Instead he looked at the facts and evidences presented, and given reasonable accounts as to why he thought that way. He went to prove his conviction with facts, even when everything was becoming to be circumstantial evidence, and all road leads to the guilt of the accused. 

Henry Fonda gave believable performance as a man who believed in his conviction. He was calm and collected, and wasn't fueled with unnecessary passion. His character spoke his mind, and respected others opinions as well. He reasoned out like a rational man, spoke with conviction and did not lose his temper. The other jury members were great as well, particularly Lee J. Cobb and Joseph Sweeney. I loved how there was a variety of characteristics involved in the case, that it did give off different opinions. They were all from different walks of life, with different jobs, backgrounds and interests, but are all arguing about the same thing. 

It's amazing how the plot could be so simple, and yet it's captivating. It's a purely conversational film, and yet you feel enticed to listen to them throw out argument after argument and they still manage to keep their characters afloat. The screenplay was well written; while it managed to keep the conversations close to the case, it didn't skimp out on the characteristics of the jury. I also have have to tip off the hat to (director) for being able to make something like this. Usually directors would take a visualization style to be able to demonstrate a criminal case, but just by working with the dialogue, it gives the viewers the power to imagine how the scenes played out without taking any of the substance off. 

It's rare that films like this is produced. It needs to have a good story coupled with good performances to keep these films interesting. 12 Angry Men is an amazing film that garnered my attention, and considering how old it is, won't fail to captivate even its newer and younger audiences.

Comments

  1. I haven't seen this one either, despite it being on so many "Favorite" lists. I really need to check it out.

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    Replies
    1. It was great! There's a remake of this, around 1997, I think. But this is definitely the one to check out. :)

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