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12 Angry Men.A - Movie Review Example

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The film 12 Angry Men (1957) observes and reports on the jury system of the United States. The 18 year-old Spanish defendant draws five older gentlemen and seven middle aged men as his jury of peers. One juror is foreign born and one is from poverty. …
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12 Angry Men.A Review
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Download file to see previous pages The jury does not assume him to be innocent, as the law prescribes. Even the judge drones his boredom during jury instructions. The many ethical dilemmas, values and concepts depicted in this film include: 1. Presumed innocence, ethic or myth? 2. Personal prejudice in the jury room. 3. Personal experience in the jury room. 4. Personal agenda in the jury room. 5. Interpersonal group dynamics: bullies, opinion leaders, bigots, conformists The film explores the best and worst in human behavior in the setting of the jury room amidst a literal life and death decision. This paper explores that treatment. Presumed Innocence Ethic or Myth Eleven of the jurors voted guilty in the first polling without the benefit of an evidence review. Only juror 81 voted not guilty. The anonymity of nameless jurors reduced audience prejudice, although, juror 8 wore a white suit and juror 32 wore a black suit in keeping with Hollywood symbolism. Juror 8 stood alone in his conviction, his ethic, that before sending a defendant to the death penalty, the jury had a duty to review the case. Several of the jurors commented they thought the defendant was guilty from early in the case, indicating an early personal deliberation without listening to the defense first. Juror 23 says he cannot put his reasons into words, just thought the defendant “guilty from the word go”. (Lumet 1957) Juror 64 says he was “convinced early” (Lumet 1957) when the prosecutor established motive. Juror 75 exclaims “no one thought about it twice” (Lumet 1957) except juror 8. Clearly, these jurors did not honor their commitment to impartiality prior to deliberations. Although the defense attorney did not aggressively cross examine witnesses, most jurors felt the defense council was competent, mostly by assumption. The assumption of competency logically lead to the conclusion that if there were a defense, it would have been presented. No defense, no rebuttal, no innocence. The defense council is never on screen, a cinematic no show. The fact that the boy was accused of killing his father, a man whose position was sympathetic to many on the jury, ironically foreshadowed the juror 8 role in this drama. (Cunningham 1986) Juror 3 said his parenting skills involved “making his son a man” (Lumet 1957) until his son punched him in the jaw during an argument. Juror 8 raised his kids through love and respect. Juror 8 saw in the defendant an innocent child that never had a chance while the others only saw his superficial guilt. The movie continued through the first act with only juror 8 assuming the defendant was not guilty. The others were too emotional or prejudiced to review the facts. The first act ends with juror 8 making a leap of faith. He challenges the others to make a secret ballot and if all 11 vote guilty, he will too. The votes are counted and a 10-1 split is discovered. The older gentleman, juror 96, decided to back up juror 8 on principle; although ten jurors did not presume innocence, the young defendant would receive thoughtful deliberation from his jury. Personal Prejudice The jurors demonstrated a varying degree of prejudice, both racial and class based. As the jurors entered the jury room, several conversations revolved around the defendant and his social status. The discussion of evidence brought to light the prejudice and backstory7 of the jurors. In a more benign comment, Juror 48 avers the defendant came from the slums and slums create criminals. “Everyone knows that” (Lumet 1957). Juror 59 disagrees with this assessment, reviewing his own history and asking for sensitivity to the youth’s plight. Juror 1010 is a more vehement bigot, spewing stereotype and cursing “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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