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The film 12 Angry Men is trying to shed light on the errors and gaps in the criminal justice system. The film focuses on 12 men who all have different personalities that affect the case and the final verdict. The film touches on racism in the jury, grudges between families, and that the court could be “bought out”, but it does all of this in a fun and entertaining way.
The first problem the movie shows is racism. In this film the most prominent racism comes from juror #10. Right from the beginning of the film juror #10 is trying to see who is against him and who is with him. He states multiple times, “who stands where” which tells us that he is more of a hateful person. When he is asked about why he thinks the boy he is sending to die is guilty, he has one response every time. He states “he is one of them,” which we interpret that the defendant is not white and this is why he is voting guilty or mostly why. Later in the film he starts to rage at all the other jurors about the boy being guilty, because again “he is one of them” and they are killers. The other jurors decide they had enough with him and just walk from the table, which shows juror #10 that he is the odd man out with his beliefs. This is one moment in the film where it makes juror #10 realize that his opinions are compromising the case. This shows us, the audience, how with just one racist juror can dramatically affect the final outcome in a trail. If he didn’t change his mind the outcome of the case could have been different.
Grudges are also a prominent theme in this film. This trait is most dominate in Juror #3, who never really has had any proof of why the boy is guilty except for the points that Juror #4 has been discussing with the other jurors throughout the film. Juror #3 lightly informs us about his son who ran away from home in the beginning of the film, but it seems insignificant at the time. Towards the end of the film juror #3 goes off on a madman spree, yelling about how the boy has to be guilty. He then pauses and looks at his wallet where a picture of his son is and starts to cry. In the end he changes his vote from guilty to not guilty. What we infer from this is that he was holding a grudge against the defendant because his son ran away, not because the boy was guilty. He sees his son in the defendant and is taking it out on him. This situation could happen the way other around. Imagine juror #3 (the one who had a grudge) had a grudge on his dad, then he would be more inclined to vote in favor of the defendant. These grudges could cost someone their life if they are not tamed.
The amount of money might be the biggest thing to affect the trail. In the film one recurring discussion is why the defendant’s lawyer did not bring so many key points up. This message surfaces a lot in the film while the jurors are discussing the case. Their answer is because the attorney did not care because he was being paid so little. The jury talks to each other about how it was an unfair fight from the beginning, because the prosecution’s lawyer was fully engaged and the defendant’s was not. This shows us how much money can affect the outcome of any case no matter how big or small. If the defendant would have had more resources for his own lawyer, he might not of ever had the 11 to 1 vote guilty and juror #8 wouldn’t have had to be a “knight in shining armor.”
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