12 Angry Men
Essay Preview: 12 Angry Men
Report this essay
The movie 12 Angry Men depicts a typical scene today: twelve jury members meeting to discuss a case presented to them and determine guilt or innocence of a young man accused of killing his own father. Usually the jury room is a place for discussion and debate, but the evidence has swayed all but one of the jurors into voting guilty. The group in the movie is a jury of 12 men with various backgrounds and age groups. They were placed in a deliberation room where the entire move took place.
Soon after the men gather in the deliberation room the foreman suggests a vote. All of the jurors except Henry Fonda suggested the boy was guilty. Fonda, is unsure of the defendants guilt or innocence himself, even though his fellow jury members all disagree with him. Immediately after Fonda made his vote of not guilty the room was in uproar. The rest of the jury resents the inconvenience of his decision. After questioning his sanity they hastily decide to humor Fonda by agreeing to discuss the trial for one hour. The movie proceeds to tell the tale of how Henry Fonda uses excellent communication skills to sway the jury into actually thinking for themselves instead of thinking in the groups best interest and effectively voting that the young man was innocent.
The group at the beginning of the movie seems to be very cohesive due to their overwhelming belief of the boys guilt. In the beginning, all the jurors felt that the defendant had committed an immoral crime, something which all of them were prepared to send him to die for. They felt that he deserved death for his actions, and that they were acting completely right even though they still had doubts to his guilt, because they felt it was their job to keep the defendant out of society to the benefit of mankind. But as the movie continues the group loses that cohesive behavior because of one mans questions. Henry Fonda takes the jury form eleven to one in favor of a guilty verdict to the point where the votes are split right down the middle. Towards the end of the film the cohesiveness of the group returns with all the group members voting for acquittal. As the level of cohesiveness goes down so does productivity. There is a lot of fighting between the men in the deliberation room and it seems the entire group was in a stand still. In the movie at one point the proctor juror wants to give his position to someone else who can handle the fighting better. Another example is when two other jurors are carrying on a conversation about a baseball game because the group was not cohesive enough to keep his attention.
The jury deliberation did follow in a OCER fashion during the movie. First is the Orientation. The jury was a group of men that had no idea about each other so they came into the room and everyone was unorganized. Most likely the men had never served on a jury duty before so everything was new to them. Next was the conflict phase. With all but one juror in favor of guilty it was difficult to avoid conflict. Henry Fonda caused friction with the other jurors because of his “reasonable doubt” when most of the other jurors felt it was a straight forward case. Next to follow in the movie was emergence. The group came out of the conflict to listen to each other and the fact to prove that the boy charged for the crime may not be guilty. Finally the reinforcement phase of a group happens when the jurors sit down and vote on the verdict to be not guilty.
When members of the jury were making arguments sometimes they took the central route. The central route is elaborating what you want to get across to a certain audience. Then the audience has to make a decision based on the fact given whether to be persuaded or not. Henry Fonda asks for a layout of the apartments in the complex where the murder occurred. With the facts of distance and time he proves that old man down stairs could not have made it to the door in time to see the boy flee the scene. This fact was processed by the jurors and some where persuaded by Henrys arguments based on the facts. Objective elaboration was also used in the movie. The jurors knew even if the already disliked the boy for any other reason the there was no way an old man could have made it to the door in time to see the boy. This shows how objective elaborations used facts to speak for themselves. As the talk proceeded Fonda slowly undermines their confidence by saying that the murder weapon is widely available to anyone, and that the testimony of the key witness is suspected. Fonda proposed arguments for every piece of evidence. He achieves this by often by using the word “supposing” meaning there is room for doubt. As Fonda questioned more and more, and what began as 11 jurors with guilty votes began to unwind to a level of uncertainty.
The stockbroker is a great example of this. His whole argument from the beginning was that the man was guilty. But slowly but surely, after testimony of people like the old man, the “L” train, the walking to the door scene, and many others began to change his viewpoints, although he was still convinced that the defendant was guilty. He was finally won over after the glasses mark on the bridge of his nose hit home to him, and he stopped rationalizing with the group and made his own informed decision.
Some of the juror made peripheral route arguments. The easiest symptom to spot in the movie is the negative stereotyped views of the defendant. It was automatically assumed that the person was a horrible human being because what part of town he was from and because of this, everyone was positive that he