Saturday, July 7, 2012

12 Angry Men - Movie Review

Finally watched this highly recommended movie by the famous Sydney Lumet. It was incredible. How he held the story so taut with 12 characters in a single room, focussed on their job of coming to a verdict on a murder accused, is something one must see to experience. I was left with my mouth open at the audacity with which he made the film in one room (almost) with no names of characters and built a drama based on fluctuating motives and human frailties. Superb stuff.

12 jurors in a murder case are to decide unanimously whether a young man has murdered his father in a fit of rage. The movie opens directly with the judge telling them that they have to establish reasonable doubt and will need to be unanimous to pass the verdict as it is a criminal case. The case is established as the jurors, all men, discuss the arguments presented by the defense and the prosecution. the case appears kind of water tight, with one eye witness and another man who saw the boy running away from the scene of the crime. the boy has a weak alibi. That he is from a minority community does not help.

The jury it appears  can wrap it up in a few minutes. One man is keen to attend a match, another to get back to work. The vote has 11 men voting guilty and one not guilty. He holds his ground and tries to reason out all his doubts and discomforts about the case and gradually finds support from one and then another. As race, social standing, professions, nativity, prejudice come into play, more and more people join the one who proposed not guilty at the beginning, as he reasons with facts in hand, and tries to eliminate doubt that the murder did take place. He does cause the others to agree that the eye witness could have been mistaken and the old man could have been too and perhaps the boy may not have been guilty. I loved the way he concluded the last scene with the last man who stands for the guilty verdict breaking down, knowing that he has been too hard on his own son which is why he has lost him. It does not leave just teh 12 men in the room richer for that experience, but all those who saw the movie too. Forever Henry Fonda's character will be an inspiration for me when I am faced with a situation that I do not completely believe in. I will hold my ground and try to make sense of my feelings and my doubts and get them across but I will not vote for what I will not believe in.

Superb casting and amazing story telling. The guys look the part, you can actually guess their professions and personalities from their looks and behavior, their prejudices and the way it colours their judgment is brilliantly shown. Brilliant stuff and one that amazes you with how much can be done if you have a good idea and are willing to work on it. Must see for anyone.

1 comment:

Rajendra said...

I saw the Hindi remake which I think was titled Ek Ruka Hua Faisla. It was very good.