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"12 Angry Men": a Short Movie Review

Updated on May 7, 2020
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Fatbardh is passionate about films and tries to write critical reviews about them, while still not losing the artistic beauty of the films.

“12 Angry Men” – a short movie review

(may contain spoilers)

“12 Angry Men” it is one of the great classic movies. From my perspective it is a simple one, in a good way. It takes the subject, introducing it to you at the beginning, and it lets you follow the characters’ discussion about it from the start till the end, keeping you focused on the discussion in its entirety.

Being a drama and naturally having melodramatic elements in it, it makes justice to the genre, while adding a lot to it. It has no unnecessary dramatic character developments, it is straight-forward. Except the main subject’s obvious importance to the movie development, the other characters’ progression is as equal important, if more. The movie’s motif being the characters reflection on the subject’s doings, makes the epilog of the drama, a continuously changing process. Each one of them having a distinctive personality, makes the viewer to be not quite sure about the movie epilog, even though it may seem different at the beginning.

The 1957 black and white movie scenery is simple. A court room, where the subject is briefly shown, provoking an emotional reaction from the viewer. It continues with the jury room, where it stays throughout the movie. A very simple one room play. It is to no surprise the simplicity of the movie’s scenery, as it is a written-play adaptation. And as it is to no surprise, the perfect execution of the movie, an astute direction, with an impressive acting. As I said, it isn’t melodramatic, but the clear and focused acting, wrapped with emotion, it keeps you invested in their personalities and their respective changes through the development of the movie.

An 18 years old Puerto Rican boy, the life of whom is at hands of 12 men, a jury, which has to bring a verdict about the fate of the young kid. The matter looks simple. The boy, is suspected to have killed his father after a heated argument with him. The jury of 12 men, starts the discussion about it lightly. Most of them, look at it superficially. According to them, the facts are there; the kid argues with his father, grabs a knife and kills him. The old neighbor heard him, the woman living across the street saw him, and it was clear, the kid is guilty. And almost all agree.

But one man, Juror no.8, an architect (played by Henry Fonda) has doubts. It all starts with a sentence: “Supposing we’re wrong”. The dialogue is at times fast-paced, switching between characters, two sides of ideas. One side convinced, it’s clear as ice, the other a question, a doubt, a supposition. The jurors, at the beginning, except the one, all have a clear idea about the verdict. A guilty one. But as the discussion evolves, it starts making them doubt the ‘facts’ they once knew to be true.

Some having their ideas fixed as a result of their upbringing, some having doubts, and some making their minds based on what the majority says, it is easy to understand why they think the way they do. While the movie progresses, their moral compass seems to change. Few begin to question their way of thinking. Most important are the two characters, Juror no.8 played by Henry Fonda, and the Juror no.3 played by Lee J. Cobb. The curiosity of Juror no. 8 and the persistence of Juror no.3, being two different opposing ideas and ways of thinking are the most important aspects of the movie.

A still picture of Henry Fonda (left) and Lee J. Cobb (right) from the movie.
A still picture of Henry Fonda (left) and Lee J. Cobb (right) from the movie.


This way of movie developing, question by question, logically analyzing, but still evoking emotions into it, the moral prejudices of each character, their backgrounds, makes the movie attractive to the viewer. Every character in a way, has a bit of their personality affecting their judgement.

The movie as it discusses the fate of the kid, it also unfolds the nature of the 12 men. Showing us the relation of a man’s judgement to their character. The movie throughout its running time, creates a relation between the artistic side with the empiric truth. It’s a great example of showing us how to critically think while still keeping the emotional side with it.

The movie has a clear message: always question things, no matter how true they may seem, especially when a life is at stake. If you haven’t watched the movie yet, I’d really recommend you to do so.

© 2020 Fatbardh


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