12 Angry Men (1957 film)

12 Angry Men (1957 film) Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Why does 8 initially vote "not guilty"?

    While all the other jurors think the defendant is guilty, 8 votes "not guilty" in the initial vote. As he explains it, he votes this way not because he is sure that the boy did not commit the murder, but because he is not sure that the boy did commit the murder. In his eyes, they cannot vote to send the boy to his death if there is reasonable doubt, which he believes there is.

  2. 2

    How does Sidney Lumet show the arc of the narrative through camera angles?

    In the beginning of the film, we rarely see characters in close-up. Lumet shoots them from a wide angle, to show that they are all trying to make a decision together. As the arguments get more heated and we learn more about each of the jurors' interior lives, we begin to see them in close-up more often. This choice, to gradually introduce close-ups into the visual vocabulary of the film, both lets us in on the subjective experiences of the characters, and also broadcasts the psychological claustrophobia of the jury deliberation room.

  3. 3

    Why do people step away from the table when Juror 10 goes on a rant?

    Frustrated by how slowly the deliberation process is going, Juror 10 goes on an angry and bigoted rant about people from the slums. Rather than think logically about the problem, he attaches himself to his own prejudices and starts speaking violently. Frustrated by his prejudice, his fellow jurors step away from the table and turn away from him, to show that they are resisting his discriminatory attitude.

  4. 4

    What does the film seek to show the viewer about patience and justice?

    In the beginning of the film, all of 8's fellow jurors are annoyed with him for delaying what they believe should be a much quicker process. As he makes different points about the case, however, and shows that it is not as simple as it appears, they begin to change their votes one-by-one. In this way, the film illustrates that going along with the majority is not always the key to understanding the facts, and that sometimes, unveiling the truth and pursuing justice is about having patience and looking more closely.

  5. 5

    What makes Juror 3 change his mind at the end?

    Even when everyone else has changed their vote near the end of the film, Juror 3 maintains that the defendant is guilty. He goes on a tirade about the fact that it's clear that the son is to blame for his father's death, when suddenly a picture of him with his son (from whom he is estranged) falls onto the floor. Seeing his own personal reminder of paternal estrangement and animosity, Juror 3 is filled with emotion, and realizes that a great deal of his own perception of this case has to do with his personal experience. He realizes that he does not actually have the grounds to send the defendant to the electric chair as soon as he confronts his own feelings of grief and disappointment.