Sometimes when you sit down for an old time movie, you are not very sure what to expect coz you doubt its relevance to the contemporary world. That’s not the case with this movie. 12 Angry Men is undoubtedly one of the most amazing movies of all times.

It’s the story of 12 diverse men, who are brought together as the jury for a murder trial of an adolescent boy in a low-class locality of the town. The case appears to be absolutely open-and-shut, with all the evidences against the accused.  It’s an extremely hot day; every jury member wants to be done with his responsibility as the juror at the earliest and exit the scene. All the jury members vote in favour of the accused being guilty, except one Mr. Davis, Juror No.8 (Henry Fonda) on account of his reasonable doubt. His conviction for not sending an innocent man to the electric chair manages to change everybody’s disposition towards the case, slowly but persistently. They sit together in the closed room and discuss all the aspects of the case from various angles, bringing in their perspective on various issues and even doing mock-demonstration to view the possibilities. It brings to limelight the differences among the jurors in terms of their personality, biases, socio-culture, decision making, ignorance and indifference. After a series of discussion, debate, verbal assaults and threatening, the jury finally reaches a verdict, a verdict based on sound reasoning and logic rather than on the views presented in the court.

It is just amazing how the whole movie, being shot in one room, manages to grip you throughout. The narration of the whole murder trial, as well its evidences and witnesses from the jurors itself, rather than through the court proceedings is so succinct and clear, without anything being shown in first person. All the actors, despite not be introduced by their names, and addressed just by their number make a distinct mark on you in terms of their characteristics. I also love the ending of the movie, with the verdict being presented from the juror’s viewpoint, with no explanation whatsoever about the reality of the case.

The movie portrays the flaws in the judicial system which forcibly assigns a reluctant  lawyer to a case who sees no fame, no money in cases like this, where jurors just want to superficially fulfil their duty and where a slum-dwelling adolescent is subjected to prejudices, just to name a few.

My advice to you – don’t miss this classic drama. It’s worth the 95 minutes it runs for.

It’s surprising that the movie did not win any academy awards despite having 3 nominations, with no nomination for Henry Fonda for his lead role. But then these three awards went to another must watch classics of those times, whose review will shortly follow.  

For those of you who don’t know – The movie is inspired from a teleplay by Reginald Rose who acted as one of the co-producers of the movie.

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