12 Angry Men

Cinema, Review

I was looking for quite some time for some stories that used a minimal amount of resources, like scenarios or visual effects, and were mainly focused on characters. I was interested on these kind of story mostly because I was planning to write some stories that would allow me to produce them by my own. Therefore an inexpensive production is a requirement. I needed an inspiration. Some real case examples to put into my wall and see that is a possible feat.

Then I stumble, in a short period of time, in 2 articles (a video from WatchMojo and an article from IGN) that listed a series of movies that features the characteristics. Among both articles, a unanimous praise for a very old movie staring Mr Fonda called 12 Angry Men (the Brazilian Portuguese title is 12 Homens e Uma Sentença, something like 12 Men and a Sentence). So I gave it a shot.

And man! Instant classic. Instant love.

The principle here is simple. The 12 jurymen have to decide, unanimously, if the accused boy is guilty or not guilty. But what seemed to be a very easy and straight forward decision reveals to be more intricate. Because the unanimously condition have to be followed, it forces all the characters to level their beliefs and reasons towards one single point. That is what the whole conflict is placed: they all differs in backstory and value different things.

Fonda (which I cannot recall the name. In fact, I think the characters are never presented by name) is the main star of the film, but there is a very distributed character relevance here. I’m not going to say that the twelve characters are equal, but there are at least five that are constantly relevant throughout the whole story. They control the flux of the story. Fonda is the protagonist because the whole conflict and he is the major force towards one line of the thought. And there are a central antagonist, that opposes Fonda all the way. Yet is one of the most distributed stories I can remember.

All happens into a single room. In a rainy night. All the shots take place from different angles from this tiny room. It is definitively a challenge for cinematography, but they done it. It becomes very personal and intimate. There is not much visual demand here because the lighting and the scenario is very mundane.

The performances are convincing and all characters fell that they have their own personality. From the talkative salesman to the awkward accounting.

Classic. Entered in my personal Best movies of All Time list. A must-see.

My Grade: 9

Metacritic: 96

RottenTomatoes: 100%