I remember watching 12 Angry Men after my Class 11 Physics Mid-Term but I don’t remember being more awestruck from a movie’s cinematic value more than this one. One hour and thirty-six minutes of 12 men talking in a single room set with intensity and self-righteousness, was a movie experience next to no other. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. It was just cinema and filmmaking at its artistic best.
12 Angry Men is a story of twelve jurors deciding among themselves the final judgement to a case and subsequently the fate of an accused boy. The twist here is that we are not presented with the case. We can figure it out ourselves though as the jurors talk. For a judgement to be passed, all the twelve need to agree to the accused being either completely ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.
A movie which presents itself like a courtroom drama soon turns itself into a venue for quite an introspection. The men, none of them who are named but only numbered, reveal sides of their lives and mentalities which make the plot further thicker and the movie subtly deep. What seems like an easy case is turned on his head as one of the jurors, Juror No. 8 (Henry Fonda) fights against the rest eleven and brings in the all-important concept of ‘reasonable doubt’.
Like most great films, 12 Angry Men is also a journey. A journey to encounter what man has come to and how the little flicker of humanity in all of us more important than the part which has vanished. One of the few movies to maintain its pace from start to finish, the movie is as timeless as it gets. Sixty years on (Yes, 1957 and yes, I like movies this old) 12 Angry Men still lives on in the hearts of movie critics and audiences like none other. Be it’s small budget or one room set or probably even the fact that none of the characters are named, the movie invites you to be a part of the case.
The movie has since then been remade five times in different languages including Hindi. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla starring Pankaj Kapoor is what I am talking about right now. Also, law students are shown this movie to teach them the importance of reasonable doubt and to look beyond the obvious.
Sadly though, none of the actors who played the twelve jurors are alive now. Their characters though, let’s just say, are in session.