12 Angry Men Reaction Paper
By: Venidikt • Essay • 1,167 Words • January 1, 2010 • 1,932 Views
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"12 Angry Men" is a remake of the 1957 Black-and-white film, and tells the story of twelve jurors bound by the acceptance of their civic duty and thrust together into a hot, humid room to determine the guilt or innocence of a boy accused of killing his father in a moment of rage. Only one juror is not certain, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the young man is guilty. With the exception of a few moments at the beginning and the end, the entire movie takes place in the room. All in all, I thought that while this movie was a great remake, it was not nearly as good as the original and could have been written more to influence the current times.
The story begins after closing arguments have been presented, as the judge is instructing the jury. The twelve men must determine, unanimously, whether the accused is innocent or guilty of the charge of murder. These twelve then move to the jury room, where they begin to become acquainted with the personalities of their peers. In a preliminary vote they are startled to find that one juror has voted "not guilty." Many of the jurors are amazed and angry because "Davis" (Jack Lemmon), the lone dissenter, does not see the "open and shut" nature of the case. Davis maintains that he has a reasonable doubt, and it is morally wrong (and illegal) to condemn a man to death if any jury member has a reasonable doubt.
The ensuing arguments and sifting of the evidence unveil the flaws of the prosecution's case, the questionable representation by the defendant's court-appointed attorney, and the true character of each of the jury members. Throughout the deliberations, not a single juror knows another by his name. Gradually, Davis and those jurors who become convinced by the soundness of his reasoning prove to every man on the jury that the defendant's guilt is not "beyond a reasonable doubt". The result is a vote of 12-0 in favor of acquittal, and the jurors leave the room. What happens in the courtroom after that is left to the imagination of the viewers. In the final scene, as they are going down the courthouse steps toward the street, McCardle (Hume Cronyn) calls to Davis and asks for his name. They introduce themselves to each other, say goodbye, and go their separate ways.
While watching this movie, I realized that it provokes thought on the fairness of using our peers to determine the verdict in jury trials. Insights are shown on how jurors will base their decisions on many factors including peer pressure, personal perceptions, knowledge, biases, experiences and motivations along with the given evidence. Can the defendant in a jury trial really receive a fair trial? Do we have a correct and fair method for determining justice? Through watching this movie, I learned about how one person can make a difference if only he/she steps up and takes command. All of the things that I have just mentioned made me realize that this movie has taught me many things about my assumptions and myself.
Some other things that I began to realize while watching this movie was that masterpieces like "12 Angry Men" don't need a remake. The remake of the classic 1957 film makes many good efforts, but falls short in many points. First of all, I think George C. Scott is excellent, and could stand serious comparison with Lee J. Cobb in the original. Many of the other actors are also very good. But some of the actors miss the mark on their characterizations. Olmos' watchmaker is a confused mess. (Who is he? Where is he from? What is his social class?) Gandolfini's Juror # 6 is surly and disagreeable, unlike Edward Binns' kindly original. The actor-playing Juror # 5 (Dorian Harewood) is too confident and bold; in the original, this character was a scared and self-conscious young man who identified with the defendant. I admit that making Juror #