Tuesday, August 22, 2006

12 Angry Men



Twelve Angry Men (1957).. I watched this movie yesterday and now I wish I had seen it sooner. It is that good. It is there in all the best top 25 movie list. This was television-trained director Sidney Lumet's first feature film - a low-budget ($350,000) film shot in only 17 days from a screenplay by Reginald Rose, who based his script on his own teleplay of the same name.

Within the confines of a hot and angry room 12 jurors debate, argue and sweat it out to decide the guilt or innocence of a teenager accused of murdering his father. This film is almost entirely set in one room for 90 or so minutes, as the valiant dozen play cat and mouse with the accused's life. In the begining of the movie, 11 jurors concludes that the boy is guilty and should be punished but one juror (Henry Fonda) votes against and stands with the boy for not guilty. He forces the other men to slowly reconsider and review the shaky case (and eyewitness testimony) against the endangered defendant. Heated discussions, the formation of alliances, the frequent re-evaluation and changing of opinions, votes and certainties, and the revelation of personal experiences, insults and outbursts fill the jury room. One can feel the heat and anger in the movie because the Director has very cleverly set the environment, take for example..the only fan in the room does not work, the windows of the room are jammed, the sweat soaked shirt, the heated discussion. after around 45 minutes of the movie, the rain comes and the director uses it to cool the entire atmosphere.

It has no flashbacks, narration, or subtitles. The camera is essentially locked in the enclosed room with the deliberating jurors for 90 of the film's 95 minutes, and the film is basically shot in real-time in an actual jury room. The acting is magnificent; the 12 actors are essentially the movie. None of the jurors are named, and they don't formally introduce themselves to each other. Jurors are labeled with numbers based on their jury numbers and seats at a conference table in the jury room. The character remains in our mind by their seating places long after the movie is over.

The movie shows the 'imperfections' in the judicial system. The system tells us that though the system is imperfect but still justice can be achieved.

I would rate this movie 10/10. (Remake of this movie was made in hindi by Basu chatterjee. The film name was 'Ek ruka jua faisla').

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