Analysis of Film "Twelve Angry Men"

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  • Topic: Jury, Verdict, Jury nullification
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  • Published : June 12, 2008
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Critical Analysis of the Film: “Twelve Angry Men”

Twelve Angry Men (1957) is a classic film where twelve strangers are brought together into a hot and humid New York jury room, to negotiate and decide on the fate of a poor, young Latino boy who is accused of killing his father (Lumet). These twelve jurors come from diverse backgrounds, and throughout the film exhibit behaviors that demonstrate their cultural, economic and social differences. In the beginning of the film, these dissimilar viewpoints, prejudices and biases become a barrier in their decision-making but as the film continues their conflicting personalities help to enrich the actions and decisions in the jury room, resulting in a unanimous not guilty verdict.

The film looks at conflict in two interdependent ways. The first form of conflict portrayed in the film is through the plot. The jury must decide whether to convict the young boy of killing his father and sentence him to death, or conclude that he is innocent of the crime and set him free (Lumet, 1957). This first form of conflict frames the entire film, yet there is a second dimension of conflict that presents itself when the twelve jurors are sent to deliberate. As the men gather into the jury room it is apparent through their body language and brief conversations that many of the men are hot, exhausted, and ready to convict the boy without giving it another thought. Even before the formal discussion begins it is obvious various opinions and views are likely to affect the jury deliberation, and conflict may be unavoidable. When these men are confronted by juror #8 (Davis), who stands alone with his not guilty verdict, the conversation within the jury room becomes very heated. The jury room soon becomes a battlefield; the pressure to derive an honest verdict is no longer the primary conflict, instead the group is challenged by various opinions, intense frustrations, lack of participation and indifferent attitudes which exposes a...
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