The film 12 Angry Men Essayrelies more heavily on the use of characterization than any other movie I canthink of. Due to the lack of special effects and because the film takes placealmost entirely in a small jury room the development of characters was key. This star studded cast of actors included such names as: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, and Ed Begley, even the guy from The Odd Couple was in the movie. An important part of characterization deals with how characters arerevealed. There are four major methods of revealing characterization:actions, appearance, dialogue, and thoughts.
The film 12 Angry Men makesstrong use of all of these methods, but the use of appearance seems to be theprimary method used in revealing characterization. As we are introduced tothe characters we can make fairly accurate assumptions of their personalitybased on the court room scene at the beginning of the film. For instance,juror number two looks like the prototypical nerd; wearing glasses, lookingvery awkward and small in stature. Also, juror number six looks very roughand presumably unintelligent; very large in stature with a strong jaw lineand wearing his shirt unbuttoned at the top without a tie.
We can also makeassumptions about Henry Fonda’s character(juror #8) based on hisappearance. He looks very intelligent and almost angelic in his all whitesuit and with his tall and slender build. Later in the movie these ideas arereinforced by the other three methods of characterization. However, there isone character whose appearance is misleading. Juror number five appearsto be the average middle class citizen, but in fact he hails from the slums. Once again, since the film takes place in the small, suffocating juryroom we get to know quite a lot about characters.
For example, we learnthat juror number ten is a racist, that juror number four resents young peopledue to his own sour relationship with his son, and that juror number three isa cool and calm stockbroker who ‘never sweats’;. With as much as we learnabout the twelve jurors we never find out if they take anything home withthem after the trial. For instance, does juror number ten’s opinion ofminorities change, or does juror number four resolve the conflict with hisson. As in society the jury’s members were made up of those with verystrong personalities and not so strong personalities, or leaders andfollowers.
Which is fitting because a jury is supposed to be a sample ofsociety. However, there really isn’t a sample of society in the film as half ofour society is missing from the movie, women. Also, there are no minoritiesin this jury. I find this a little hard to believe because I would think that adefense attorney would try to select a jury made up of mostly womenbecause the crime in question had to do with a son killing his father, whichis something that might persuade some men to vote guilty.
Also, I wouldthink the defense attorney would also try to get as many minorities on thejury as possible since the defendant is supposed to be representing allminorities. Another extremely important aspect of film is conflict, without aninteresting conflict a film becomes uninteresting. Of course there is theclassic good versus evil conflict, but in 12 Angry Men the conflict seems tobe more along the lines of just versus unjust. There is no real good versusevil scenario because all of the conflict in the movie revolves arounddiscussion of a court case, and no character can be classified as evil (noteven jurors number ten or four). Never the less, this movie definitely hadits share of conflict.
In the beginning of the movie the conflict is betweenHenry Fonda’s character and the other eleven jurors as to whether there isenough evidence to convict, and ultimately put to death, a young man. Asthe movie continues we begin to see other more subtle conflicts arise. Oneof these subtle or inner conflicts is shown in the scene where juror numberfour talks about ‘kids these days’; and tells the others of the scuffle betweenhe and his son. You can see the anger, fear, and sorrow on his face and hearit in his voice as he tells the story while staring .