- The movie is 96 minutes long. All but about three of those minutes are filmed in the same room.
- Sonia Sotomayor claims the film as an important influence on her life.
- The movie was recently parodied by Amy Schumer.
Drum roll, please...
Title: 12 Angry Men
Director: Sidney Lumet
Original Release: 1957
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
But 12 Angry Men is so much more. It's about challenging assumptions and prejudices. It's about standing by your principles and staring down the forces of conventional wisdom. It's about burden of proof and reasonable doubt. It's about twelve men with different and frequently competing motivations, charged with the legal and moral obligation to either agree on a man's fate or admit they failed in the effort.
12 Angry Men is also one of the most brilliantly written movies you'll ever see. Screenwriter Reginald Rose originally wrote the story as a 1954 television episode for the series Studio One. A stage adaptation followed in 1955. The movie is a triumph of the medium, taking the eye where a theater audience could never go. While most of the film is indeed shot in the jury room, the camera is all over the place. The shots in the beginning are wide angle, at eye level. But as the story progresses, the perspective moves lower and closer to the faces of the jurors, affecting an uncomfortable intimacy and heightening the tension.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor does, indeed, claim the film as an important influence on her life. Juror #11 (most characters are never named beyond their juror numbers), an immigrant, gives a speech on his reverence for the American justice system that Sotomayor has said helped convince her to pursue a career in law. Interestingly, as a judge, she would caution juries against following the example of 12 Angry Men, urging them to base their decision on facts rather than speculation.
It's not easy to explain all of that to a twelve-year-old. Best just to let her watch and discover for herself.
Next meeting is Friday, November 13th. I'll post November's blog list tomorrow. For November, pick another society member's choice from our ever increasing library to review. Today, please visit my fellow cinephiles, listed below: