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Throughout history our country has always given someone a fair trial by jury where 12 random U.S. citizens are chosen to serve on the jury. The play Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose examines the dynamics at play in a United States jury room in the 1950’s. It revolves around the opinions and mindsets of twelve diverse characters that are tasked with pronouncing the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of first degree premeditated homicide. In 1957, Twelve Angry Men was made into a movie that was directed by Sidney Lumet. Although the play and the movie had similarities, there were also many differences. The three most significant differences between the play and the movie were the evidence, and stage directions, and characters and their actions.
The first main difference between the play and the movie is the evidence. In the play Juror Eight states that the boy who kills his father is “nineteen years old.” The important piece of evidence is not the same in the movie. In the movie, it is still Juror 8 but he says that the boy was eighteen years old. Another difference in evidence between the play and the movie is when they talk about the boy’s father. In the play the author doesn’t mention his father at all, but in the movie they decided to say that the boy’s father was in jail for forgery. This is an important piece of evidence because not having a positive father figure in this boy’s life can have greatly affected his actions that he made when he was older. Another important piece of evidence was about the old woman and her eyeglasses. In the movie, Juror Nine uses Juror Four as an example by talking to him about the marks on either side of his nose. Juror Nine asks him why he scratches the sides of his nose and Juror Four says “it’s because of my eyeglasses.” Juror Nine makes the point that the women who testified who saw the killing had the same marks on the sides of her nose. He also adds that she kept rubbing her nose in court and that is another piece of evidence that shows that she wore eyeglasses. He says how the women made the effort to look younger than she was by wearing new clothes, lots of makeup, and no eyeglasses. In the play, there is no reference to this conversation between Juror Nine, Juror Four, and the other jurors about the glasses. In the play Juror Eleven says “The woman wore bifocals. I remember this very clearly. They looked quite strong.” This piece of evidence was switched between the play and the movie. In the play they said that she wore glasses to court while in the movie the jurors came to the conclusion that she had no glasses on, but had the little marks on the side of her nose that showed she wore them but just not to court that day.
Another difference between the Twelve Angry Men movie and play was the difference in stage directions and the staging of the play. One thing about the stage directions that is important is the heat. After the jury retires to the jury room, the heat is the first subject amongst the men. The fan doesn’t work, so they open the windows, and one man explains that the news said today is the hottest day of the year, but he doesn’t say the temperature. This is significant, as the movie represents pressure as heat. We can therefore see that this day will have the most pressure on the jury too, out of all the days taken up by the trial. At the end of the movie the broken fan starts to miracuously start working again and this shows that the pressure starts to come off the men as they come to a decision whether the boy is guilty or not guilty. In the beginning of the play the fan is never mentioned, but the heat is. When the men first enter the room after being in the juror box Seven states’ “Y’ know something? It’s hot. You’d think they’d at least air-condition the place. I almost dropped dead in court.” Another difference at the end of the movie and play is that in the movie Juror Three is explaining to the other jurors why he thinks the boy is guilty, but then he stops, and looks down at the photo of him and his son. Juror Three then declares how “you work your life out” for them and then he precedes to rip up the photo and cry at the table. He then says out loud “Not guilty, not guilty” and the men are finally dismissed because they came to a unanimoud decision. This scene can differ from what happened in the play because in the play Juror Three made his speech and then the other jurors pressured him into voting not guilty by acknowledging to Juror Three how he is “all alone”.
The final important difference between the play and the movie was the characters and their actions. First, when the jurors went from the juror box to the separate room some turned around and looked at the convicted boy. This action does not occur in the play but I think it is an important aspect that was added into the movie because with the play we are able to come up with our own unbiased conclusions about the boy, who we know is nineteen year old boy from the slums. Seeing his worn face in the movie changes all of that and it engages the audience deeper into the trial and allows the audience also to sympathize with him and it can allow the audience to gain some insight into why someone like Juror Eight would sympathize with him. Another difference in the characters actions in the play versus the movie is in the movie there is a scene of Juror Seven combing his hair and singing in the bathroom while Juror Eight is washing his hands. Juror Seven wanted to know why Juror Eight was making such a mess of everything in the courtroom. When Juror Seven leaves Juror Six comes in to chat with Juror Eight. Juror Six tries to steer Eight’s opinions by talking about what a “murderous” day it is outside. Six asks Eight what it would feel like if they found the kid “not guilty” and later learned that he killed his father. This makes an impression on Juror Eight and when they get back to the courtroom Eight talks more about the facts of the case. This scene was not included in the play version, but it is important because it shows how the other jurors were trying to persuade Eight so much, but he stuck to his own beliefs and didn’t change his vote just because everyone was telling him too, he stuck to his morals and his beliefs about what he thought really happened with the boy and his father. A final importance of the characters actions were at the very end of the movie Juror Eight and Juror Nine, as they were leaving the courthouse, introduced themselves to each other. This doesn’t occur in the play, but it is important because it helps show that the men weren’t all just about business and that they cared about each other even though they didn’t really know each other.
In the play Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose and the film version directed by Sidney Lumet both show many similarities but also a lot of differences such as evidence, stage directions, and finally the characters actions. By reading this play and watching this movie shows the importance of something like jury duty in our country. Twelve random people from different societies, ethnicities, religions, and just overall lives come together to determine the guilt or innocence of another human being. By not even knowing each other twelve strangers can come together and form one opinion.
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