Monday, 5 September 2011

The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn't even have to open his mouth. That's in the Constitution.

No 72 - 12 Angry Men
Director - Sidney Lumet

Well bloody hell.... life catches up with you doesn't? Between doing the Edinburgh Fringe, flying to Spain and then flying to India (I'm quite a big deal) - I haven't really had the time to do anything. Certainly not been at a laptop long enough to blog.
Though I did catch a lot of quite good films on the Planes. Hanna is pretty awesome isn't it.

But what about the actual list film? Well.... I saw it almost a month ago so I'm going to have to resort pretty heavily on my notes rather than on any clear memories.

The first thing that I really noticed is that the film is very stark. From the way that it opens without pre-film credits (which you don't see that often in films of this age) through to openly bigoted characters, none of which are named, and complete lack of momentum. This is a film which is unashamed about its minimalism. There are no set pieces. No real drama. Just a lot of talk and some ever shortening nerves.

The entire film takes place in one room, and the film enjoys letting the audience savour the claustrophobia. The jury is too hot, the room is too noisy, stifling and there is the inherent racism that probably did simmer in the minds of people in 50's America.
What the film does exceptionally well is watch the journey of these jurors. I have never had to do jury duty, but I don't think it would be as complex or as demanding as the full analysis which occurs in this film.
At no point do they ever say the nameless kid is INNOCENT of his crime. They are just debating whether there is enough evidence to sentence him to death without qualms. This means a hefty breakdown of all the facts, changing the minds of some.... and further infuriating others who just want to get out, get home and get back to their lives.

The more that people discuss the facts, the more the jurors get irritated. I particularly love the quote

I'm sick and tired of facts! You can twist 'em anyway you like, you know what I mean?
Which for me sums up the whole temperament of some of these jurors. They don't really care about the facts. They just want to hang the no-goodnic (and there is no question that he is a bad kid, just maybe not a murderer) and go watch their ball game.
It also makes me think of this small moment of genius.

Really, the film doesn't have much to it. But as a tense character study of 12 people. As a deft analysis of the human psyche. It works splendidly.

It is, in a strange way, quite similar to the Social Network as it is a superbly written piece which manages to make legal procedure and a bunch of people bickering in a room a massively entertaining and captivating film.

Where 12 Angry Men is even more impressive, is that it does it in one room. Without ever resorting to flashbacks or anything.

A triumph of a film from a very skilled director.

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