12 Angry Men directed by Sidney Lumet
Anytime that anyone has mentioned this movie to me it has been in the context of praise. After finally watching it for myself, I see what they mean. It is quite the compelling story.
Strangely enough, the first thing I noticed was the stark contrast in eras. Sure it was only made back in 1957; that wasn't that long ago right? My parents were both alive at that time. They had television and cars and baseball. It wasn't that different, right?
I think the 60s changed the landscape of American culture more drastically than those of us from younger generations fully realized. Think about it. Back then segregation was still an accepted way of life. The USSR was not only still a country but also a legitimate superpower. Humans had not been in outer space. Routine dress for men was a suit, tie, and hat. New York still had 3 baseball teams.
But there they are, 12 men representing the common people of the day and one of the first things I noticed is that they're all dressed the same. Under their suit coats (which all but one had a dark color) they all wore a white shirt and tie.
Now, I digress. I was going to talk about 12 Angry Men, or should I say 11 angry men because honestly, Henry Fonda's character never really seems to get angry. Nearly the entire movie is shot inside one room as a jury deliberates their verdict. In the preliminary vote Fonda is the only one who votes not guilty. The rest of the movie is spent in argument and discussion as the various characters reason their way through the evidence and their own opinions. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's really just one of those movie you have to watch.
Fonda's character exemplifies the lesson that I took from this movie. He's even-tempered and doesn't rush to judgment. He's seen the evidence of the trial, he knows that the law states "beyond a reasonable doubt" and he has doubts. He's open-minded, yet unconvinced. I like to think that I could be described in the same way. Perhaps that explains why I liked the movie? I'm not sure, but I'm willing to discuss it.