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12 Angry Men - Film Discussion Guide


"12 Angry Men" is a gripping tale of jurors struggling to determine if a young man is guilty of murdering his father. The staged drama begins with one juror hesitating to condemn this young teen, causing the rest of the jurors to betray their own prejudices and re-examine the facts. What begins as an open and shut case of murder soon becomes a mini-drama of each of the juror’s preconceptions about the trial, the accused, and each other. A critically important drama in a world swayed by emotion, “12 Angry Men” makes its point that only reason and fact have a place in the courtroom blindingly clear.

In all the versions of this drama, the playwright doesn't provide the juror's names, hampering any gratification through identification. Instead anyone can be wrong; the only requirement to be right is that you should be flexible enough to acknowledge this possibility.

In issues of justice and fairness, the human factor, human fallibility, needs to be considered. "12 Angry Men" demonstrates how human prejudice affects justice and fairness. In your written analysis, please discuss the following:

1. How the fallibility (prejudice) of the jurors in "12 Angry Men" allows/prevents an outcome of fairness and justice.

2. How did the dramatic tension between the jurors result in a fair and just outcome? Why was this process crucial to a proper verdict?

3. Do you agree with the final verdict of not-guilty? Be sure to refer to specific scenes/moments from the movie to support your ideas.

As you view parts of this filmed drama, please consider the following stage elements:

1. Strength of Dialogue

2. Subtext: the subtle details of character, often revealed through gesture, voice intonation, mannerisms, facial expression, costumes.

3. How a one set stage affects drama – The Jury Room (plus small bathroom).

4. Camera angles/Actor staging/blocking of movements: how do these help build tension and conflict?