Daily Recco, May 18: The ingenious 12 Angry Men

12 Angry Men is used as part of the curriculum on filmmaking around the world.

 |  2-minute read |   18-05-2021
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In this day and age, would anyone dare to make a movie that is almost entirely set in just one room? Perhaps that sort of decision would have been easier to make in 1957. That film, 12 Angry Men, despite performing poorly at the box office, went on to become an iconic film that figures on almost all greatest lists and is screened to students in a bid to teach them a thing or two.

12 Angry Men is one of those films that is timeless in its storytelling. It revolves around the discussions of a jury of 12 men in a New York court. The case in question is a murder trial where the accused is a young man. On the surface, it appears to be an open-and-shut case, finding the young man guilty. The jury quickly decides that they have seen enough evidence and 11 votes say that he is guilty. One man alone holds out, requesting that they at least discuss the evidence before handing the young man a death sentence.

At 96 minutes, what follows the premise explained above is a tour de force on the power of cinema. The sheer skill of writing in dialogue and screenplay and the subtle changes in visual come together to create a cinematic work that perhaps could endure adulation for a century longer.

And all that is amazing when you consider three 'wow' facts. Except for maybe three or four shots, the entire story happens inside a single room with just a table and few chairs. No gimmicks. Two, the total number of actors who appear on screen are a mere 18. Of these, six appear for no more than a handful of scenes. It is all up to the 12. Three, this was the director's first-ever movie. Sidney Lumet would miss out on an Oscar for his debut masterpiece but would go on to become among the most respected and celebrated directors in the history of Hollywood.

12 Angry Men is used as part of the curriculum on filmmaking around the world. Numerous attempts have been made to remake it in many languages. It is formally recognised as an important cultural property in the US. And the American Film Institute considers it the second-best courtroom drama ever, after the amazing To Kill A Mocking Bird. And there are few lists of all-time great films that 12 Angry Men does not have an automatic entry to.

Simply put, you cannot go wrong with picking 12 Angry Men as the next movie you watch. Dialogue-heavy, but boring by no measure. A lifting tale that leaves you grappling with multiple emotions, do not miss 12 Angry Men on Amazon Prime Video. After all, not many films are worth 9.0 on IMDb and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

The author writes on wildlife, environment, gender issues, science, health, books and a host of other topics. A professional journalist and a passionate environmentalist. Former Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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