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Movie Review Of “12 Angry Men”

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Thesis:

’12 Angry Men’ focuses on a jury’s deliberations in a capital murder case. A twelve-man jury is sent to begin the proceedings in the first-degree murder trial of an eighteen-year-old man who is accused of stabbing his father to death, where a guilty verdict means an automatic death sentence.

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’12 Angry Men’ is a courtroom drama that is adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. “12 Angry Men” explores various techniques of consensus-building and the difficulties encountered when the deliberations among this group of men add to the intensity and conflict. Moreover, it explores the power one person has to elicit change. The film urges the characters and audience to evaluate their own self-image through observing the personality, experiences, and actions of the jurors. The movie is shot in one room.

The review contains a general sense of the plot, the tone of the film, the various themes, the quality of acting and directing, and the relation of the film with Organizational Behaviour.

PART 2(A): ABOUT THE MOVIE

12 Angry Men is a courtroom drama with a jury of 12 members who have to decide the guilt or innocence of an eighteen-year-old teenager who is accused of stabbing his father. The 8th juror attempts to prevent a breakdown of justice by forcing the other jurors to reconsider the facts and evidence as he had a reasonable doubt in his mind. The juror grabs the opportunity to lead the others to put aside the facts and speculate some unseen evidence. Moreover, the other jurors come to terms with “reasonable doubt” and question their own morals and values.

The movie, “12 Angry Men”, points at the problems that are faced when the jury members try to build a consensus given their different personalities and the different ways the jurors defined justice.

PART 2(B): MY OPINIONS ABOUT THE MOVIE

I consider “12 Angry Men” as a cinematic masterclass, even with its simple setting. There was an absence of music, which in turn provided a much realistic portrayal of how a jury really functions. For example, each of its characters has different personality traits, which drive them to define their own view of justice and judgment, this helps the viewer learn to make rational decisions when the situation demands so, even with the lack of support.

The film succeeds in showing the true behavior of numerous jurors. Even the screenplay is highly satisfactory. The focus was more on the characters and their intentions and beliefs. The film doesn’t get boring even when it is set completely in a single room.

At the end, I got to know the environment which consists of different people who have different views and attitudes towards the same issue. The characteristics portrayed by different jurors can be seen in any person in daily life. The exception here is juror 8 who can think rationally and even made others think about.

Central Conflict:

“12 Angry Men”, is one of the best films on how prejudice and wrong perception can distort or hinder decision making (here, Justice). The main conflict while giving unanimous verdict was ego and clash of opinions amongst the jurors. The jurors who were free from any prejudices were having a clash of opinions with Juror 8. For instance, the 4th juror changed his opinion to “not guilty” when he was given reasonable proof that the stabbing would have never being done by the eighteen-year-old with a height of 5 foot 6 inches.

The director was successful in achieving his purpose, on how the prejudices and ego distort the decision making through his plot and the conversation set up. He conveyed that any point explained clearly and with patience is always delivered well to the audience.

PART 3: ANALYSIS AND EVALUATION

How did the director achieve his or her purpose?

The director, Sidney Lumet, achieved his purpose with ease. Given the fact that the film is directed in a small jury room, he makes such a dry subject interesting with men who have such diverse personalities. Long shots with a focus on different camera angles and movements make the film a classic even after 60 years.

Is the acting/writing/music effective, powerful, difficult, beautiful?

While the chemistry between different cast members is good, the acting of Lee Cobb, who played juror 3, was exceptional among all the actors. The narrative and writing are quite gripping and at no moment it felt that the film gets boring. The music is absent except a few scenes, given that the film is quite old.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the movie?

The strength of the film is its acting and the dialogues. Some of the dialogues are thought-provoking like the final speech of juror 3 where he cries. The only weakness of the movie is the uneven division of roles. Some jurors speak too much, some don’t speak at all, at times.

What is your overall response to the film?

At first, it felt as if the film would be boring, given how old it is. But as the story moved forward, and as the tension built up, it got interesting as juror 8 used his intelligence and patience to bring everyone to his side and ultimately achieved his purpose.

Would you recommend it to others?

I would recommend the film only to staunch movie followers because it is very difficult for irregular movie-watchers to understand the significance of such films.

Relation with OB concepts:

“12 Angry Men” is a film that plays with the psychological mind of people, which highlights various features of organizational behavior.

Perception:

The movie follows the concept of perception in which individuals organize their sensory beliefs to give meaning to their environment. In the movie, jurors consistently perceive prosecutor to be ‘guilty’ and then change their opinions through reasonable doubt created by juror 8.

Prejudice and stereotypical mentality:

The movie shows the prejudice and stereotypical mentality that exists in society. In the movie, several jurors are shown to have racist behavior towards other jurors. Juror 3 wasn’t accepting any opinion that differed from his viewpoints. Even during a discussion, juror 10 comments that, “the boy had lived in a slum and that his words cannot be believed”, this shows lack of respect for the boy’s life the juror has and the prejudice for people that belong to the slum areas.

Effective leadership:

The movies show the traits of effective leadership. The 8th juror was the only one to vote ‘not guilty’ as he wanted to have a discussion because of a reasonable doubt that existed. The jury was gradually handled by the 8th juror and was seen to be growing as a leader because of the traits he possessed, such as honesty, patience, empathy, etc. During the deliberation, he is convinced that there is reasonable doubt. He persuades other jurors to put themselves in that boy’s situation which in turn brings out certain important points that make the jurors to think about and eventually change their votes to ‘not guilty’. He was calm, composed, and considerate of every single detail presented in the case.

The approach towards the case:

A task-oriented approach is followed by juror 8, the protagonist of the movie, he stuck to his role and played a crucial role in saving a young boy’s life. With the use of his questioning skills, he lets other jurors to analyze the evidence in a concrete manner. Throughout the movie, he convinces other jurors that he is not sure whether the boy has killed or not, but solicits feedback from jurors on different points to make an accurate decision to prove his point. The 8th juror was the only one to vote ‘not guilty’ and when he was asked to confirm his decision, he encourages others to view the case differently. This shows a change-oriented behavior.

Diversity:

The movie draws some examples showing how leadership can minimize conflicts and integrate opposing views. We get to know the importance of diversity, as an opportunity rather than considering it a threat to progress which actually provides the benefit through better and greater understanding.

Empathy:

Empathy is an integral part of emotional intelligence. The concern showed by Juror 8 at the beginning of the case and to not send the boy to the death penalty without conducting a deliberation would have been unjust to the boy.

Cross-functional team:

The group of jurors shown in the movie have the same hierarchy but come from different backgrounds and have distinct perceptions. This shows cross-functionality.

Group Development:

Forming: This is the initial stage of group building. The initial stage consists of meeting new people and getting along with them. In the film, the forming stage is clearly depicted when the judge announces all the jurors to sit together to discuss a murder. Moreover, it consists of people comforting themselves with each other by initiating some conversation.

Storming: This stage is present where conflict and competition are at its greatest. Members develop conflict, they tend to agree or disagree with other members in the group. In the movie, we can see that Juror 12 makes an attempt to be the leader of the jury. He asks other Jurors if they find the prosecute guilty or not. We can also see a conflict when one Juror thinks that the prosecute is not guilty while others are simply opposing him.

Norming: This stage tries to resolve the conflict and accept the difference of opinion. In the movie, this stage is evident when the 11th juror makes an appeal to accept the views of Juror 8 and gradually convinces him that the prosecute was not guilty.

Performing: The team works hard and try to achieve the goal for which the group was formed. The same comes into existence when all the members start to agree with the Juror 8 and they all move towards the goal which was to decide whether the prosecute was guilty or not.

Role conflict:

Role conflict occurs when a person does things contrary to his position. It means, he does something other than what his role is. For example, the 8th juror sometimes behaved as if he was the boy’s advocate.

Conclusion:

12 Angry Men holds a wonderful significance in how it looks at the way criminal justice system works. The characters are well drawn out and portrays distinct personalities which makes it more interesting. It is a very excellent movie as it shows the realities in the judiciary system of the United States of America. As we can see, in the movie prejudice and discrimination is found involved in the decision as some of the jurors are easily agreed with the fact that the boy can stab his father and is involved more in the criminal activities, because of the fact that he belonged from a socially backward class and voted ‘guilty’ before getting into whole discussion.

I would recommend this movie and give it a “B” grade, as it is pure from a simple, undeniable classic. Much of this can be attributed to the exceptional writing and amazing performances in one of the best-assembled casts in the film history. The dialogues are realistic and so sharp with a brilliant acting from Henry Fonda. This film reflects a lot of past problems and the proposed solutions of immigration, youth violence and of course overcoming one’s own background and discrimination and deals with moral issues of the society. The film surprised me in how progressive it was, and ending social conclusions that it reaches. Though, I feel it was a bit incomplete. The conniving decision of the judiciary should have been revealed with the truth. This story conforms to the one man’s beliefs and perceptions against all and tries to persuade others as well. However, it should have more focused-on facts and enlightening arguments.

References:

  • • 12 Angry Men (1957 film)
  • • https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050083
  • • https://www.shmoop.com/12-angry-men/summary.html
07 September 2020

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