12 Angry Men - Analysis

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12 Angry Men (1957) is one of the most acclaimed feature films of all time. It was produced at a time when the United States was just twelve years out of World War II and “Leave It To Beaver” and “Father Knows Best” broadcast across television airwaves the perfection, conformity and affluence of American life that had been generated by the Great War. Additionally, this film was listed on the university syllabus as one of three films to see in regard to this course, Management 610 – Contexts of Contemporary Management here at the University of Redlands. (1957, http://www.normandyhigh.com/1957/timeline_1957.html) edSpawn from the 1954 play by the same name and the screenplay also written by Reginald Rose, its original writer, 12 Angry Men (1957) was inducted for preservation into the Library of Congress in 2007 as being “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant.” (12 Angry Men, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/12_Angry_Men) expressive verbs in next paragraph (The following section contains many expressive verbs.) 12 Angry Men (1957) is a management style and social psychological case-study of what happens when a collection of twelve jurors with diverse backgrounds after hearing testimony regarding a murder case where a teen boy of “minority” ethnicity are sequestered to a deliberation room to decide whether the teen is “guilty” or “not guilty” in the stabbing death of his father. At the heart of the deliberations is to prove that the teen is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” and the twelve men spar in this film for one and one-half hours in a New York City court deliberation room on a very hot, summer day. (Lumet, S. (Director). (1957). 12 Angry Men (Motion Picture). United States: MGM Studios – Video DVD) Some of the jurors are uncomfortable with being entrusted with the power to send this young teen to the electric chair, and just like their diverse backgrounds; they approach the task of deliberations in very different ways – much like people do everyday when they come together to work at work or on projects, in classes, etc. It is for this reason and purpose that I believe the feature film, 12 Angry Men (1957) was listed with three other films to see for this class. Another interesting aspect of 12 Angry Men (1957) is that the film is shot almost entirely in one room – the jury room. There are only two other sets that are not in the jury room. The first is in the actual courtroom where the jurors are seated when the film opens with the judge saying, “If there is a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused, a reasonable doubt, then you must bring me a verdict of not guilty. If, however, there is no reasonable doubt, then you must in good conscience find the accused guilty. However you decide, your verdict must be unanimous. In the event that you find the accused guilty, the bench will not entertain a recommendation for mercy. The death sentence is mandatory in this case. You are faced with a grave responsibility. Thank you, gentlemen.” (No wonder the jurors were uncomfortable.) (12 Angry Men (1957, http://www.filmsite.org/twelve.html) The second set outside the jury room is on the front steps of the Hall of Justice where Juror #8 (Henry Fonda) and Juror #9 (Joseph Sweeney) exchange names, shake hands and say “goodbye.” At no other instances are the names of the jurors used during the film. (Lumet, S. (Director). (1957). 12 Angry Men (Motion Picture). United States: MGM Studios – Video DVD) This approach to filmmaking gives us, the viewers, an open, deeply penetrating and affecting exposure to the personalities, personal baggage, points-of-view, quirks, cold bloodedness and visions of the twelve jurors. 12 Angry Men (1957) is a master study of group dynamics and change based on both 20th Century and 21st Century Management Styles. 20th Century Management Styles are characteristic of rigidness in approaching management of people, judgmental listening to issues and...
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