HOLLYWOOD—I have wanted to see this movie for years because I have heard epic things about this 1957 drama starring Henry Fonda about the inner workings of the legal system, in particular the jury system. I have personal issues related to the jury system which I don’t think works and it never will properly work the way it should because there is no such thing as an unbiased jury. It is not possible, people are biased and that is something that our legal system fails to acknowledge or look at.
“12 Angry Men” is a movie that EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN NEEDS TO SEE. In addition, it is a movie that should be played for all potential jurors whenever you’re sitting in that room waiting to be summoned for jury duty. No, the government doesn’t showcase this film that shows NOT ONLY THE ISSUES WITH THE JURY SYSTEM, but the people who are called to serve as jurors and the biases that can sometimes lead to a result that may not be ideal and how you can work thru those things to do what an actual juror is supposed to do.
The first thing that is critical to know about this movie is we never learn any of the jurors names until the very end of the movie (and we only learn 2 of their names). Each juror is noted by their number. Even though this flick was made nearly 70 years ago, the resonance it has today is so potent. I remember all the times I’ve served jury duty and trust me it has been more than once and how annoyed I was. First with the process, second with the pay and third how ignorant some people can be.
“12 Angry Men” focuses on a jury of men all from different backgrounds who are forced to discuss an actual case against a teen who has been accused of stabbing his father to death. The audience doesn’t see the trail or any of the shenanigans in the courtroom. Everything we learn about this case is a direct result of the discussions that the jury has. When our jurors first enter that jury room, you have 11 jurors already saying the defendant is guilty without even discussing the case, but you have that one jury who is not just going to say guilty because everyone else said the defendant is guilty. He wants to discuss the case, he wants to examine the evidence and it has a domino effect. Why? The jurors one-by-one are forced to confront one another about their biases, prejudices and so much more.
Why did I connect so much with the movie? I felt I had a similar experience the first time I served on a jury. We get into the room right after the case has been heard in its entirety and we start to debate. Everyone except two of us immediately not the person was guilty and they didn’t care they just wanted to go home. I was annoyed as hell with this, as well as another juror. This is a person’s life; you cannot be so lax about making a decision that could change a person’s life. Not only was I flustered, but I was flabbergasted that so many jurors believe and think this way. They don’t care about rather someone is guilty or not guilty, they just want to get out of there and that is a serious issue with our jury system.
This movie is so powerful because the drama simmers, but it explodes at times. The performances from all the actors in this movie is top tier; incredible, riveting and powerful to watch and filmmaking that takes the smallest nuances to convey a particular emotion and narrative plot points that keep the spectator enthralled into what is taking place, not to mention you’re being educated and learning valuable information at the same time.
Hell, you have to call people out on their BS as depicted in the movie, as I did during our jury deliberation as well as another individual. This was serious for us because we held someone’s fate in our hands. We were not just about to sit here and act as if the decision we made did not have repercussions.
We discussed the evidence, we examined the evidence, we discussed the testimony of the witnesses, the defendant, the plaintiff and after nearly 2 days of jury deliberations, that initial guilty that so many of the other jurors became a not guilty because there was reasonable doubt people. A key term highlighted multiple times in the movie for the jurors to truly understand what was unfolding. “12 Angry Men” is a film I think everyone should see, it is a movie that should be mandatory to be shown in the classroom and whenever you’re headed to the courthouse when you have to serve jury duty.