12 Angry Men Review

SO I’ve finished the list of films that I want to see and now I’m working through the 1000 greatest films as voted for by IMDB users: http://www.listchallenges.com/top-1000-greatest-movies-of-all-time-by-imdb.  I have 847 to go.

The narrative of this film is very simple.  Set during a heatwave in New York, 12 Angry Men is a courtroom drama where 12 jurors have to decide on whether an eighteen-year-old boy is guilty of killing his father or not. 

Despite only having one major setting and for the most part, the same 12 characters, the film is very intense and never gets boring.  At the start, all 12 men are very calm, but get progressively wearier and angrier.  I was like this whilst watching the film, as I became more enthralled in all of the character’s arguments for whether the boy is guilty or not.  Another major strength of the film was how the 12 angry men weren’t named and were solely identified through their juror’s numbers, with very little other information of them given.  Whilst, I have criticised other films for doing this, I think it worked well here.  

Through the omission of character names, all of the jurors were deindividualised into a faceless, nameless authority, which I felt accentuated how much a person’s fate can be taken out of their own hands.  Also, the deindividualisation wasn’t so extreme that I couldn’t distinguish the characters from one another.  Each character had their own distinctive quirk, which distinguished them from the next.  The acting was very strong too from juror 3’s and juror 8’s passionate pleas for and against the boy to juror 7’s indifference to juror 2’s transformation from a spineless toad whom nobody listens to, to a dominant individual whom everyone takes seriously.  I also really like how you don’t find out whether the boy was guilty or not.  This little ambiguity felt like an appropriate way to end the film.

There were one or two times, where I did confuse the characters, but these were few and far between.

A wholly gripping and well-acted film.  Its simple narrative and strong characters contributed to its success too.  This is a Hollywood Classic that I would recommend to anyone.  I think this film is the epitome of not taking anything for face value or judging something based on superficial knowledge, after all, “stupid is as stupid does.”

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