The 1957 movie “12 Angry Men” is a significant reflection on the American legal system. The entire movie takes place in one chamber, where a jury of twelve men deliberates whether or not a young man accused of murder is guilty or innocent. The movie delivers a brutal assessment of the American legal system by showing the prejudices, biases, and shortcomings of the jurors. The following analysis will examine these themes’ representation in the movie and why it is still a potent critique of American culture and the legal system.
Through its examination of the concepts of reasonable doubt and the assumption of innocence, “12 Angry Men” portrays a justice system with flaws. The movie emphasizes how these key elements of the Constitution are frequently ignored or missed in the quest for an expedient and easy decision (Ebert, 2002, para. 3). The jury’s early assumptions and biases cause them to pass judgment on the defendant’s innocence before carefully considering the facts. The main problem is that some jurors are initially seduced by their own prejudices towards the defendant, which influences their judgment. The faults in the legal system are further highlighted by the rashness of judgment and the scant consideration of the facts. It becomes clear throughout the movie that the system is flawed and easily prone to mistakes, emphasizing the urgent necessity for an impartial procedure in dispensing justice. The work places a strong focus on the value of critical thinking and the requirement that jurors get above their own biases in order to ensure a fair trial.
Another significant issue relates to the film’s addressing the way that juries are selected. Choosing jurors based on their ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background rather than their capacity to render an unbiased judgment illustrates how selection procedures can be skewed. The evidence appears in the movie when the Martin Balsam-played jury foreman says that the defendant is one of them, which refers to being a member of a minority group (Lumet & Rose, 1957). The expressed claim indicates that the jury is prejudiced against the defendant prior to the proceedings themselves. One more example is the role of Juror 3 (played by Lee J. Cobb), who displays blatant bias towards the defendant and displays initial hostility toward Juror 8. As the jury is deliberating, it becomes apparent that Juror 3’s animosity toward the defendant is due to his own personal problems rather than the case’s facts.
The next flaw that the film distinguishes are intermingling issues of prejudice, racism, and classism. The lack of diversity among the jurors contributes to displaying the mentioned intersectionality. All twelve jurors, as well as the guard, are depicted in the script as white people, but the defendant, a little child of color, is never seen (Lumet & Rose, 1957). The racial biases and discriminatory attitudes existing in the criminal justice system are highlighted by this lack of representation. Juror 10 criticizes the defendant’s origins and suggests that persons from lower socioeconomic strata are inherently dishonest and unreliable. The provided stand illustrates how social class distinctions interfere with influencing how the legal system perceives and makes decisions. The tension and drama that permeate the entire movie are a result of the jurors’ initial preconceived notions and biases against the defendant that are simply motivated by his ethnicity. The jurors’ varied histories and financial levels, which affect their viewpoints and prejudices, also allow the movie to address classism.
In a faulty legal system, the jurors are shown in the film as imperfect people. Prejudice, bias, and the power relationships that can affect a trial’s outcome are all themes that are explored in the movie. Each jury brings personal prejudices and previous assumptions about the case and the defendant to the table, which color their deliberation and decision-making (Gross, 2021, p. 43). The jury system is designed to ensure that justice is served by a group of peers, but the film shows how this can be undermined by the influence of powerful individuals. Their leverages of pressure define a favorable medium for manipulations within the distorted justice mechanism. These shortcomings and biases are explored and refuted throughout the cinematographic masterpiece under analysis, leading to a more just and fair conclusion. The film offers a critique of the legal system and stresses how crucial it is to carefully weigh all the information before delivering a final verdict in order to ensure a fair trial.
Consequently, the analyzed movie offers a striking criticism of the shortcomings that the American justice system incorporates. The film illustrates how biases and prejudices continue to affect how decisions are formed in the legal system through its depiction of the jury deliberation process. The jurors are portrayed as flawed people with their own biases and prejudices, which emphasizes the significance of recognizing the human element in the legal framework. In general, “12 Angry Men” serves as a reminder of the necessity for a reasonable and impartial legal system that is unaffected by individual biases and preconceptions.
Ebert, R. (2002). 12 Angry Men movie review & film summary
Gross, M. A. (2021). Twelve Angry Men: A twenty-first century reflection of race, art, and incarceration. Honors Theses. 557. 1-101. https://digitalcommons.bucknell.edu/honors_theses/557
Lumet, S. (Director), & Rose, R. (Writer). (1957) 12 Angry Men [Film]. Orion-Nova Productions