12 Angry Men Analysis - 3

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12 Angry Men, a 1957 film directed by Sidney Lumet, based off of a teleplay by Reginald Rose, exemplifies various forms of human communication amongst a small group of men. After the court dispute, the jury had been announced to their destination. Twelve strongly expressive men accumulate into a small group in the court where they will all come to a consensus on whether a boy is to be charged guilty or innocent. The group of twelve men that gathered into this small room, all displayed unique and strong personalities—whether it was a strong aggressive attitude, a strong devoted will, or even a strong mouse personality. Their objective was to all agree towards one single decision—guilty or innocent. If only one person decides to say otherwise, then by law they must convince their side of the story until all have reached one single conclusion; that is the jury law. The court case was about a boy who was convicted of murder. It was pronounced that the boy had stabbed his father with a switch knife in an apartment area near L-tracks. Throughout the whole film, the group of men had a debate on the two options as one person decided to on the idea that there was room for innocence—that there was a vast idea of mistakes that could have happened. The whole film was solely based on this particular case and thus the group had to come to a consensus. However, despite being a film for entertainment purposes, the film offered many ties to human communication.

The main communicational focus of 12 Angry Men was group decision making. One of the group decision methods that were utilized was consensus which “occurs when all members of a group support a decision” (244). A consensus is used when a group is “decid[ing] on critical or complex matters” (244). Since the whole basis of the storyline was for the group of men to decide on whether this boy was guilty or innocent, the whole group had to act as one and come up with only one final decision. By doing this, the group must come to a consensus due to court law. If only one person decides to remain different, then the whole group must attempt to persuade the person otherwise because it would defy the idea of a consensus. In the beginning of the movie, a simple vote was called upon the jury on the boy’s status. The vote casted was eleven to one, eleven guilty and one innocent. The one man that challenged the whole group evaluated that there was a possibility for error. Due to moralistic values, the boy’s life was at stake and he did not allow the group to just cast aside a life without in depth discussion. Evidently, the man was able to accomplish persuading the group that the boy was innocent. By having the whole group come to one final decision, they were able to display the group decision method of a consensus.

Another communicational concept that was displayed amongst the group was leadership and power. The leadership approach that was used throughout the film was a democratic leadership style which “invited other members to share in decision making” (254). Since all had to come up with an agreement to one conclusion, all members had to represent their opinions on why the boy was innocent or guilty. All input was necessary and required to reach a consensus which is why there was no particular leader that influenced the group throughout. There were of their own decision with the influences of others around them. As far as power spreads amongst the group, several methods were examined throughout the film. One of the powers used was coercive power which “comes from the threat or actual imposition of unpleasant consequences” (249). Knowing that the boy had a chance of being innocent, the man that stayed stubborn on the idea that the boy was innocent knew that if the boy were actually innocent then he would have suffered the consequences for no apparent reason. The man could not fathom that idea which allowed him, in a sense, to “threaten” the group of the unpleasant consequence of death...
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