|Fig 1 - 12 Angry Men Poster|
I remember watching 12 Angry Men for the first time, perhaps ten years ago, and being absolutely captivated by it. As such, I knew going in a second time that I was a fan of the film, but fortunately enough, due to my terrible memory, I was able to watch with little recollection of the original viewing. That being said, and for whatever reason, this time around I was even more floored by just how remarkable this film is.
What the film excels at right off the mark is establishing an incredibly simple scenario regarding an incredibly complex decision. It wastes no time in letting the audience know that the jury must reach a unified verdict on the outcome of this trial. A trial which we have little to no knowledge about. Then to bring the jury into a confined, sweltering room in which the majority are expecting to leave in quick succession, sets up the least ideal circumstances under which an anomaly should occur. The anomaly being the opposing vote on the verdict. This singular act reveals not only that there may be further evidence in defense of the accused, but reveals also the character and principals of each individual juror. The way in which each character is masterfully written establishes their ability (and in some cases, inability) to play devil's advocate and comprehend any reasonable argument against their own fixated perspective.
|Fig 2 - 12 Angry Men - The jury|
On the whole, every performance is pretty spectacular. Despite the fact that only two of the jurors are ever named, they are all given time to establish their personalities in how they interact and what they discuss during intermissions. Henry Fonda does a fantastic job at delivering a likable yet determined performance as the initial 'doubter', who evidently appreciates those who gradually come to empathise with his reasoning. As his antithesis, Lee J. Cobb as Juror #3 does a similarly great job in passionately exclaiming his arguments against Juror #8, which culminates in a particularly moving breakdown towards the end.
If this film wasn't one of my favourites before, it certainly is now. A phenomenal script, stellar cast and gripping story make 12 Angry Men an indisputable front-runner for one of the greatest pictures of all-time.
Fig. 1 12 Angry Men Poster (1957) From: 12 Angry Men - Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Fig. 1 12 Angry Men Screenshot (1957) From: 12 Angry Men - Directed by: Sidney Lumet