12 Angry Men focuses on a Jurys deliberations in a capital murder case. A 12- man Jury is sent to begin deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of an 18-year- old Latino accused in the stabbing death of his father, where a guilty verdict means automatic death sentence. The case appears to be open-and-shut: The defendant has a weak alibi; a knife he claimed to have lost is found at the murder scene; and several witnesses either heard screaming, saw the killing or the boy fleeing the scene.
Eleven of the Jurors immediately vote guilty; only Juror No. Mr. Davis) casts a not guilty vote. At first Mr. Davis’ bases his vote more so for the sake of discussion after all, the Jurors must believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. As the deliberations unfold, the story quickly becomes a study of the Jurors’ complex personalities (ranging from wise, bright and empathetic to arrogant, prejudiced and merciless), preconceptions, backgrounds and interactions.
That provides the backdrop to Mr. Davis’ attempts in convincing the other Jurors that a “not guilty’ verdict might be appropriate.
A huge feel of the film is gotten through the time period it took place in. People’s views on race were made very publicly within the Jury. Many of them seemed to have personal vendettas against different races. They deemed the boys Hispanic race to be slum and nothing more than that. A universal problem that is shown in several ways throughout the film is personal prejudice getting in the way of Judgment. Juror number ten’s reason for saying the accused boy was guilty was because he felt people from slums should not be trusted and that they kill one and another for fun.
His prejudice lead him to discriminate against the boy initially by voting guilty earlier in the film, before being convinced in voting not guilty. This was during the civil rights era and all of that. We all know blacks weren’t treated equally and this makes it apparent that it wasn’t easy for any minority within the US. Theyd rather lock them up and throw away the key than give them a fair trial. Tensions run high the second the Jury went into the private room to deliberate. It was a very hot day outside and the fan wasn’t working nor would the windows open.
No man wanted to spend more time than what they thought would be efficient to determine the verdict. Some even spoke about their plans for right after, thinking it would be a sure bet theyd be out of there soon with the whole night ahead of them. They were wrong. From then on the film turned into an example straight out of a sociology textbook. Everyone didn’t deviate from the norm of the group… All except one, Juror #8. The rest of the Jury was outraged and deemed him a radical. They could not believe two things. One, that he voted not guilty, and second, hat he went against the group norm.
He tried not one bit to conform. Rather, he stood up in grand fashion and presented his doubts to his fellow Jurors. Slowly but surely his grand scheme was working. He did not know for sure whether he was guilty or not guilty, but he had a reasonable doubt and that’s all about what the justice system stands tor. It’s so interesting when you bring a group o t 12 random people into a setting like a Jury and see what you come up with. All of these men, from different walks of life , they all brought something special to the table that was ital to their key decision.
The sociological theory that tone of this film could easily fall under is the conflict perspective. At the very beginning, viewers can clearly see the tension is between the Jurors whom most have a personal prejudice against the boy for certain reason. Some Jurors simply expected that a boy from the slums would commit an act like that they were stereotyping that all people who come from slums are criminals. Even if a person is not personally prejudiced against and individual or group, stereotypes can have them make discriminatory actions such as vote guilty.
The reason most of the Jurors stereotyped the actions of the accused boys is because of socialization. The way of transmission was most likely through media; crimes shown by television new or new papers are frequently from neighborhood of low economics standing. Deviance a topic I touched on earlier, is another sociological aspect that can be examined in this film. Deviance is a very relative term where depending on the group and situation, it varies. Juror 8 was the only that felt from the beginning the boy was not guilty.
When the first vote most of the other Jurors by he fact he could think the boy was innocent and even were upset at him for thinking that. As the film progressed the Jurors began changing their votes, eventually the roles were reversed; Juror number 3 appear to be the one committing the deviant act since it is revealed his own reason for voting guilty is because of issues with his own son. One of the most important things I learned in observing the sociological aspects of this film is how easy norms can change. The norms of eleven out of the twelve men voted guilty, changed entirely to guilty as the film came to a chose.