Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Movie Review: 12 Angry Men (1957)

No special effects, 12 actors and one room! And it's the oldest film in IMDB's top 10 of the top 250 films of all time! This is one special movie.
Now I have known about this movie for a long time, what with its inclusion in the top 250 movies of all time, by world public votes on IMDB, (number 7 at this time of writing), it was only a matter of time for me to watch it. All I can say is I'm a fool for not seeing it earlier the world loves this movie and it is easy to see why.

In an unusual move for the time, instead of showing us a court room drama as the norm, we follow the jury instead. Now what follows is one of the most tense and pure "acting" movies of all time. It starts with a vote of the 12 and the verdict is 11-1 that the defendant is guilty of murder. The one opposing is Henry Fonda none the less so straight away you think oh yeah!, well of course he's the star so he would be!. But dear reader this film is not concerned with a main star, this all modern film makers is how films should be made!. 

We could have a film where Fonda does all the work and carries the film on his shoulders but look at the title "12 Angry Men", what we have here is a cast of 12 strong characters all with their different personalities and thoughts on this case, what happens is a tour de force in acting, we don't need no fancy car chases or the modern everything has to be CGI look thats thrown about today, give us a room with these 12 men and watch the drama unfold.

The film allows each character in turn to give their thoughts for and against the defendant, while also arguing and putting their points further than others. Yes Henry Fonda was the star of the piece (and producer too) but for me the whole cast are the star never before have I seen  so much tension in a movie I started watching it, in a casual manner and before long I was on the edge of my sofa absorbed by it. After the film is done these characters will stay with you forever, one such character is Lee J. Cobb as Juror number 3, his character is so adamant that this boy is guilty of murder that you just hate him for not listening to reason and when you find out why you can't help but feel sorry for him (well a little), that been said we get to hear about each characters past and life and reasons for their decision, it's pure story and character driven and I for one adore that, it's what we don't see much of now.

The camera work and direction is so simple yet so darn genius at the same time. The camera just pans around the room it allows for long takes, which just push the film even more. If the scenes kept breaking up for different camera angles, I for one feel the magic would be lost, it gives it a stage feel to it, which a film like this thrives on.

Now if you like watching a good tv drama you need to see this film, I can understand why it's so well regarded with movie fanatics. It's powerful, tense and pure acting driven. I feel stupid for leaving it this late to seeing it, please watch this film it's only an hour and a half and it will stay with you forever, this is one of the greatest films of all time and deserves its place in movie history and the top 250 films on IMDB. 
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