A True Classic In Every Sense Of The Word
12 Angry Men is a cleverly written, culturally relevant film that tackles societal issues in a simple and concise way through the tale of 12 jurors deliberating on a verdict. Predominantly shot in a single room and exquisitely acted throughout, Director Sidney Lumet does an excellent job encapsulating the mood and attitude of every day people whilst simultaneously proving you don’t need a big budget and special effects to make an exciting film.
The premise here is simple; 12 jurors from very different walks of life are thrown together to pass judgment on a young boy from the slums convicted of murdering his father. All but 1 believe the boy is guilty and what ensues is a methodically paced, deliberate examination of evidence, bias and prejudice used to highlight flaws in the legal system and the importance of looking beyond your own perceived notions. It’s certainly a relevant message and one that rings true throughout society making this an easily accessible film to understand, regardless of the original year it was released. Based on the play of the same name, 12 Angry Men’s premise may be basic, but its execution is outstanding.
What’s particularly interesting here is the changing dynamic in the room as the film progresses, not just during the heated moments but also during the sombre ones too. The changing weather outside the window in the room acts as a metaphorical change in mood inside the room but the way 12 Angry Men exploits people’s prejudices and ability to bend facts to fit their own perceived notions really typifies the important message this film conveys. Considering the simplicity of the film’s presentation, 12 Angry Men manages to keep you engrossed from start to finish through the basic camera work to keep the attention firmly on the 12 different jurors.
Character development plays an important role here too and 12 Angry Men constantly shifts the spotlight between the different characters, giving an equal amount of screen time to each person. Whether it be the rich lawyer, the despicable salesman or even just the weak-minded following the herd, there’s a good array of characters here used to showcase the different classes of society and the attitudes adopted by each.
The term classic is thrown around a lot and the meaning has since devalued its original prestigious status but 12 Angry Men is most definitely a classic. The basic set up combined with its important societal message resonates even now, typifying why this film works as well as it does. With minimal set design, no special effects or explosive action to speak of this cleverly written film proves you don’t need any of these things to craft a compelling story. If you haven’t already, you really owe it to yourself to check out this impressive film.