In the movie Twelve Angry Men, there are twelve (angry) jurors, who come together to decide the fate of an 18 year old boy who killed his father. At first, eleven of the jurors vote guilty, but there is one dissenting juror that decides to vote not-guilty. The remaining eleven decide to try and convince him, but the opposite occurs when more evidence comes into light.
At first, the evidence against this boy seems pretty solid. We have some witnesses, a motive, a murder weapon, and the boy even attempted to fake an alibi! However, the dissenter wants to discuss it more than immediately condemn the boy to death. Nobody believes in the boy’s innocence, as it all adds up. The boy even bought the knife he used to kill his father on the night of the murder, and the pawn shop owner claims he never saw a knife like it before, the carvings unique. The boy says it fell out of his pocket as he went to the movies. However, this is extremely unlikely, and since no other knives like that exist, the killer had to have taken the knife off the street and used it to kill the boy’s father.
Then, the dissenting juror grabs an identical knife from his pocket and jams it into the table. He had gotten it from a pawn shop, for $6. This was probably, in my opinion, the best moment in the entire movie, not only in shock value but also in displaying that what we assumed was fact may not actually be entirely true.
Despite the fact that the knife could be a coincidence, it seems that the boy still looks guilty. However, inconsistencies appear in the evidence. The witness testimonies don’t match. How would one witness be able to hear voices above the noise of a train that another witness claimed passed? Why would the boy come back to his house? To get the knife back? Why would he leave it there? If he were in a state of panic, why did he remember to wipe away fingerprints but then just leave the knife embedded in his father’s chest?
These questions are unanswerable, and one-by-one the jurors voting guilty join the dissenting jury. It seems apparent that some of the men aren’t be fair in this trial. One juror, for example, keeps yelling about how kids from the slums like the boy will never change, and how they’re always guilty, and only switches to his vote to not-guilty after having a mental breakdown. The others are less biased, but each have their own personal prejudice, however subtle.
The youngest juror voted along with the crowd, going on instinct, saying “he just looks guilty.” He does, however, change his vote once more evidence arises. Conversely, the man who is impatient and obsessed with baseball who sits at the end of the table just wants to leave. He wants to go see a baseball game and just wants this jury session to be over, and votes with the majority to try and speed up the process.
Despite this, some of the jurors seemed reasonable, even some of the ones who stayed guilty up until the very end. The doctor with the glasses seemed very intelligent, very calm, and very composed. He did not seem overtly biased, even though at that period of time there seemed a certain amount of reasonable doubt. Even though he stayed guilty for a long time, I admire his civility in the situation.
The dissenting juror was another one of my favorite characters. He didn’t seem to have very much to go on when he first decided not-guilty, but as evidence began to compile it becomes clear that it’s a good thing he thought to look further into this case rather condemning a man to death.
Overall, this movie was one of the best I’ve ever seen, even without color. It’s filled with understandable dialogue, subtle symbolism, with a nice message on prejudice. But the most important thing an engaging plot that keeps the movie one of the most interesting I’ve seen to date.