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12 Angry Men Movie Analysis Essay

Introduction:

This movie analysis will focus on the movie 12 Angry Men. There will be comparisons between the movie and the different negotiation tactics used in the movie and even in class. There were lessons learned from this movie and it gave new ways of thinking. This movie does a great job of using negotiation to win over a case when you are the odd man out.

Summary:

This movie focuses on a jury deliberating a first-degree murder charge on an eighteen year old boy. The boy is accused of stabbing his father to death. If found guilty of the charges, the eighteen year old boy will face the death sentence. There are many reasons as to why the boy looks guilty. He has a weak alibi, he claims to have lost the knife he bought, which was the same knife found at the murder scene, and there are witness’s saying they either saw the killing or saw the boy leaving the apartment. Out of the twelve jurors, eleven of them think the boy is guilty, except one. This is juror number eight. He claims he just does not know if the boy is guilty or not guilty, and wants to talk.

The entire juror’s quickly begin naming all the reasons why the boy is guilty. For each reason, juror number eight questions each reasoning the other jurors bring up. He states a lot in the movie “is it possible?” This question starts to put doubt in the other juror’s minds about the boys’ guilt. Also with the ongoing deliberation, the jurors are starting to learn more about themselves and their personalities and this is causing them to vote “not guilty“. Some realize they are prejudice or are holding grudges, or they are simply voting guilty because of their backgrounds. With each reason and deliberation, juror number eight continues to attempt to convince the other jurors that voting “not guilty” may not actually be correct.

Juror eight is hesitant about sending a boy to die without talking about it first. He does think that from the trial the boy is guilty, but he’s just not too sure about it. He remains calm throughout the whole deliberation. The only time he shows signs of anger is when two other jury members start playing tic-tac-toe. This bothers him because everyone should be paying attention to what is going on and not playing games. He questions every incident with “Is it possible?” The best negotiators spend time asking questions, staying curious, and uncovering the other side’s views of the situation, facts, interests, and priorities. Throughout the deliberation, he uncovers information never presented at the trial, and helps the other jurors to think that it just may not be possible the boy could be guilty.

Characters & Personalities:

Each character in the movie has a different personality about them which influences their decision on the verdict and they each express their own opinions based on their characteristics. Each juror plays a part in the movie where their personalities reflect back on a certain argument in the case.

Juror one (Martin Balsam) is also known as the foreman of the group. He is put in charge to run the deliberation between all of the jurors. He likes that he has authority to run the group, but isn’t very assertive in doing so.

Juror two (John Fiedler) is quiet and goes along with what everyone else says. He changes his vote early, though, to not guilty. He mentions about the height difference between the father and the boy, and how the boy would go about stabbing him.

Juror three (Lee J. Cobb) is the angry member of the group. He is convinced the boy is guilty no matter what anyone says. He sees no point in discussing the boy’s innocence. There comes a time in the movie where he discusses that when his son was fifteen, he got in a fight with him and his son hit him. He hasn’t seen his son ever since. Juror three is angry with his son for his actions and for leaving, that he is taking out this anger on the boy in trial.

Juror four (E.G. Marshall) is very convinced that the boy is guilty. He shows no sign of emotion and is able to recall much of what happened throughout the trial. He gets nervous though, as he cannot recall a certain movie he saw the other night, just as the boy could not do the same.

Juror five (Jack Klugman) is a shy man. He lived in a slum all his life and can almost relate to the boy on trial, for he lives in a slum as well. He is an expert at using a switch knife, which comes in handy during the deliberation.

Juror six (Edward Binns) is quite during the deliberation. He questions the boys’ motive for wanting to kill his father.

Juror seven (Jack Warden) wants the deliberation to be over as quick as possible because he has tickets to a baseball game later that evening. He votes not guilty and does not wish to discuss why or why not.

Juror eight (Henry Fonda) votes not guilty from the start of their meeting. He doesn’t know for sure if the boy is not guilty; he just wants to talk about it. He manages to cast reasonable doubt with the jurors on the boy’s innocence based on many aspects of the trial. He remains clam and patient throughout the deliberation.

Juror nine (Joseph Sweeney) is an old man. He is the second person to vote not guilty, for he wants to hear more about the case. He is very observant, as he notices something about one of the witness’s during the trial.

Juror ten (Ed Begley) is also an angry man. He is racist, and also very prejudice against people who come from a slum, which is why he believes the boy is guilty.

Juror eleven (George Voskovec) takes the trial seriously. He stands up for what he believes in. He questions the boy’s actions a lot; such as if he really would have returned the his house three hours after the murder happened.

Juror 12 (Robert Webber) is a smart man. He works for an advertising agency and has a hard time explaining his choice for changing his vote to not guilty.

During the deliberation, certain parts of the character’s personalities play a part for different concepts. One example is with Juror five. During the trial, the boy was convicted of murdering is father using a switch knife as the weapon and stabbing his father down in the chest. Juror two makes a point on the height difference between the boy and his father, and how the boy would proceed to kill his father, meaning how he would have stabbed him. Juror five explains that he used to play with switch knives when he was around the boy’s age, and knows how to use one.

During the trial, it was stated that the boy was an expert at using a switch knife. Juror five goes to demonstrate exactly how the boy would have pulled out the knife and stabbed his father: from underneath. He said it would take too much time to switch hands and stab down in his chest. Without Juror five having the knowledge and his personal characteristic of using a switch knife, the jury would have never learned how an experienced knife handler would have used the weapon.

Tactics:

In this section we will talk about a few of the tactics that we got the actors/characters using during the film. A few of this tactics were talked about during our class and case studies but some of the tactics were commonly used in everyday negotiations by everyone. We talked about power and how you could use power to get your way; you could use facts against the other party because facts are something you cannot ignore and emotions. Emotions are a hard tactic to master because you need to set aside your emotions so you can make a fair and honest judgment or answer.

Power:

Juror eight shows power over the other jurors. He has information the other jurors do not know about, and he is able to negotiate with them more. Information power is derived from the negotiator’s ability to assemble and organize facts and data to support his or her position, arguments, or desired outcomes. The other jurors only listened to what was presented in the trial. But Juror eight actually thought about the facts presented, and went out to look for more information. One way he did this was with the knife. The boy had bought the same knife used to kill his father the same night the murder happened. The boy claimed he had lost the knife, as it had fell through his pocket on his way to the movies.

The owner of the shop where he had bought the knife claimed it was very unique, and he had never seen any other kind like it in his store. Juror eight asks to see the knife found at the crime scene. Everyone else is convinced this is the same knife the boy had bought, until Juror eight surprises them and pulls out the exact same knife. He says that he went out walking the previous night in the boy’s neighborhood and came across a shop just two blocks away from the boy’s house. He saw the same knife and bought it at a cheap cost. He proved to the other jurors that it is possible the boy could have dropped his knife, because that knife isn’t as unique as the thought.

Another part where Juror eight has power is when they are debating about whether or not the old man heard the boy scream “I’m going to kill you!” According to the testimony, the boy had yelled those words right as the L-Train was passing by the window. Is it possible the old man heard the boy scream that? Juror eight stated that he had lived in an apartment next to the L tracks before and the sound of a train passing by is unbearable. Another juror said he had just finished painting one of the apartments and agreed that the sound is very loud. Juror eight had power over the others for he himself knew that the sound was very loud and it may not be possible the old man heard the boy say these things.

Presentation of Facts:

The way the facts were presented during the movie were all facts the jurors figured out themselves while deliberating, and not during the trial. There were many unanswered questions during the trial which caused Juror eight to question whether the boy was guilty or not. The defense attorney left out a lot of important information that was uncovered during the jury’s deliberation.

One of these facts dealt with the old man who claimed he saw the boy running down the stairs from his apartment. The more the jury talked about the old man and what he said, the more Juror eight questioned if he had really seen the boy or not. One of the jurors pointed out that the man was dragging his left foot behind him, but trying to cover it up because he was ashamed. During the trial, the old man stated he heard a body hit the floor, and someone starting to run. He then said it took him no more than 15 seconds after he heard the body hit the floor to run out of his apartment and to the stairs to witness the boy running down them. Juror 8 thought then if it really could have taken him 15 seconds if he was dragging his left leg.

This is when the jurors played out the scene to figure it out themselves. They were able to get a diagram of the apartment and measure out the dimensions of the room they were in. Juror eight walked the length of the room and back, while Juror two timed him. As he approached the end, Juror 2 said it took 41 seconds to walk the length they had measured out. By playing out the scene of the old man, this proved the fact it could not have taken the man 15 seconds, and he could not have seen the boy running down the stairs.

Another important fact happened during the very end of the deliberation. At this point, everyone but two people believed the boy was innocent. Juror four says his reasoning for believing the boy is guilty is because of the woman across the street who claims she saw the murder herself. As he is talking, he takes his glasses off and begins rubbing the outside part of his nose where his glasses lay. Juror nine notices this, and asks him why he rubs his nose like that. Juror four says it is from his glasses, that they bother his nose, so he rubs him. Juror nine notices the markings on his nose from his glasses, and recalls the woman had the exact same markings on her face. He then asks Juror four if there is any other possible way to get those same markings on his nose, and he replies no. Juror eight then starts to say that the woman was lying, for she did not see the boy kill his father, for she was trying to fall asleep, and she wouldn’t be wearing her glasses to bed.

These two examples show how hidden facts slowly come out. This is information left out from the trial that everyone missed, until now. After proving these statements, the jurors started to have doubt in their minds about the boy. It’s important to look at every aspect in as much detail as possible or you could miss out on something. Sure, the old man can say it took him 15 seconds, but as it turns out, it took him longer than that. And sure, the woman can say she saw the boy kill her father, but really all she saw was a blur, for she did not have her glasses on. You can’t always go by what you hear. You have to dig deeper to discover any hidden information that could help against your situation. This is what Juror eight did and it helped support his case.

Also from these two examples, it goes to show that you can’t always believe what you hear. The witness’s both were under oath as they spoke in trial, but they could just be doing that for attention. Juror nine points this out for the old man, as he can relate. He is old and unnoticed. He just wants attention, so he could have made himself believe he saw the old man when he really didn’t. As for the woman and the glasses, she didn’t wear her glasses to the trial because she wanted to upgrade her appearance. So she said she saw the boy, seeing as if she didn’t wear glasses at all, but really she did for she had the markings on her nose.

Emotions:

Negotiations often evoke a variety of emotions, especially fear and anger. Emotions can cause intense and even irrational behavior, and can cause conflicts to escalate and negotiations to break down. Juror three from the start showed angry signs of emotion throughout the whole deliberation. He stated how he hadn’t seen his son in two years, and all his anger from his son is taken out on the boy on trial. Juror three wants everyone to agree with him. No matter what information is presented, he sticks with his vote of guilty. He gets mad whenever evidence is brought up or someone proves something wrong. His emotions reach a peak whenever Juror eight calls him a sadist.

At this point, Juror three lunges toward Juror eight saying “I’ll kill him!” Then Juror eight replies, “You don’t really mean you’ll kill me, do you?” This proves his point about how sometimes people say things they really don’t mean. His emotions got the best of him, and he realized that he really wouldn’t kill the juror. Having your emotions from your personal life come into play during a negotiation is not always a good thing. Juror three should not have taken his anger out on the boy or even on Juror eight because of his son. He was angry at his son for leaving, but he should have put that aside for the deliberation. Having your emotions lay out like that on the table can cause you not to think about the important facts that need to be focused on.

Juror eight shows emotion in a positive way. He stays very calm throughout the whole deliberation. By showing no sign of angry emotion, this allows him to keep his composure and control of what he is trying to get across. If negotiators feel positively attracted, they are more likely to feel confident and, as a result, to persist in trying to get their concerns and issues addressed in the negotiation and to achieve better outcomes

Bias:

I’d like to spend some time discussing an issue that I feel is very important to recognize when it comes to negotiations. This is the issue of bias. We had several discussions in class about bias. The thing that most fascinates me about the concept of bias, is that everyone tends to have a different opinion about it. It can be a very grey area, and many people have varying feelings on its presence and its effect on people’s behavior.

Personally, I feel that it’s impossible to completely eliminate all bias from a situation. Even when looking at something objectively, bias still exists. It comes from personal characteristics, experiences, and opinions. This movie does a great job of showing how bias can have an effect on negotiations.

I’d like to cite an example from the film regarding juror number ten. This juror is an old man who is very set in his ways. He is among the eleven jurors who found the boy guilty of murder. However, his reason for voting guilty comes from a very different place than the others. The evidence seems to favor a guilty vote, but the film shows us that this gentleman’s vote was sealed the minute he learned the boy was from a slum. During the deliberations, this juror seconds an argument made by a fellow juror. He says, “Brother, you can say that again. The kids who crawl out of these places are real trash.” Regardless of this evidence, this shows a bias against the boy from the start. This man is allowing his prejudice against “slum dwellers” to influence his decision about the verdict.

The juror across the table then takes offense to this comment. “I’ve lived in a slum all my life,” says the juror. This should quell the old man’s argument, but it doesn’t. He still feels strongly about his position, even though a man from a similar background clearly hasn’t followed a path that “trash” might follow. This demonstrates the power of bias.

The greatest example of overcoming bias in this film occurs in the very last minutes. By this point, the jury has reached a vote of 11 to 1 for “not guilty.” The lone juror who still maintains the boy’s guilt is juror number three. This is the man who hasn’t seen his own son in over two years. Earlier in the deliberations, he explained how he and his son got into a fight when the boy was still a teenager. His son hit him, and things were never the same between them. As the talks between the jurors continues, it becomes more and more evident that this man has a bias against the boy on trial because of what transpired with his own boy. He wants to see this boy killed because he resents his own son for what occurred between them. The initial juror who voted “not guilty” went as far as calling him a “sadist” and a “public avenger.” In the final scene, that juror asks the man to defend his arguments one last time. There is a reasonable doubt in the minds of eleven jurors, and he wants to know why there isn’t one in his.

Juror number three begins explaining, yelling the entire time. You can see him getting more and more upset as he continues to pour over evidence that the other men have already proven shaky. Finally, he rips up the picture of him and his son that has slid out of his wallet on the table. He then bursts into tears and cries, “Not guilty, not guilty.” It was clearly painful for him to confront what happened with his son head on like that. This was creating his bias the entire time. When the evidence appeared to support the boy’s guilt, his bias was less prevalent. But when the evidence that started out convincing ended up being questionable, his bias began to show. He still wanted the boy to be found guilty because of it. This really makes you wonder how often this occurs in the real world. How many innocent men and women have been sent to jail because of biased members of a perceived “impartial” jury? It’s an imperfect system, dealing with a very inexact science. Recognizing this is very important.

From this course, and from analyzing this film, I have strengthened my belief that bias can’t be eliminated. All a negotiator can do is recognize that bias is constant, and do their best to minimize its effect on their decision making process. If a negotiator recognizes this, they can do more negotiating based on facts and figures rather than personal biases and opinions.

Power and Persuasion:

An interesting aspect of this movie, as it continues to relate to this course, is the use of power and persuasion. What I find most interesting about power, is the myriad of ways through which it may be obtained. In class, we discussed several ways that power is obtained, and also how it can be used. In this movie, there are many circumstances where the jurors attempt to use power to persuade one another.

Perhaps the most prevalent example at an attempt to use power to persuade the others is shown by juror number three. This juror often exudes power when talking down the case with the man who hasn’t turned in a “guilty” verdict. He begins by explaining all of the evidence again. He discusses the old man who claims he heard the boy, the old lady who says she saw the boy, and the knife discovered by the police who arrived at the murder scene. He is very confident in this evidence, and feels as though he has the power because of it. After taking this course, I find that this is the best way to gain power in a negotiation. The more information you have to support your argument, the more power you have. In turn, this often results in achieving your goals in the negotiation.

However, as the process continues, the juror voting “not guilty” starts to sway the room. The oldest man on the jury is the first to change his vote. The juror from the slums changes his vote not long after that. As this is happening, it appears that juror number three feels as though he is losing power in this negotiation. To counter this, he begins raising his voice when talks. Before long, he is all but yelling at the other jurors who have changed their votes. He attempts to retain his power through intimidation once he sees that the evidence, which he thought was solid, is shown to be shaky and imprecise.

Another example of how power is used to persuade others in this film is demonstrated by the stock broker, otherwise known as juror number four. It appears that this juror feels an immediate sense of power in this scenario because he is one of the most, if not the most, accomplished gentleman of the group. He feels that he is probably the most intelligent man on this jury, and demonstrates that when talks. He recalls much of the information from the trial very accurately, and with no notes. He also explains very clearly why he feels the way he feels. Power through intellectual superiority can be very persuasive, and influential. The man he is attempting to persuade does a very good job of keeping his composure.

He doesn’t challenge the broker’s power. In fact, he affirms it. He appears to respect that the juror is making valid points and supporting his argument. He goes a different route. He simply takes an issue and asks, “Is it possible?” While the other jurors refute this claim, the broker remains quiet. As the man slowly begins to disprove some of the testimony from the case, you can see the broker questioning his verdict more intently. Finally, he changes his vote to not guilty. This is where everything turns. The other jurors picked up on the quiet power exuded by the broker, and respected it all along. Once he turned in a “not guilty” vote, it was only a matter of time before the others joined him. This is convincing tell that this man had a great deal of power in this negotiation.

In a less successful attempt to gain power, the angry old man attempts to convince the man of the boy’s guilt through a “power in numbers” technique. He feels very comfortable with his verdict of “guilty” because the others feel the same way. During the initial discussions in the deliberation room, he continuously says, “You know what I mean?” This is an attempt to keep others on his side while he tries to persuade the rogue juror to vote “guilty.” He feels he has power in this negotiation because he has the majority on his side. This is a common tactic in negotiations. As the film progresses and more and more jurors change their verdict, you can easily see the power leaving the angry old man. He is forced to confront his prejudice and accept that he was wrong. When he is no longer in the majority, his sense of power quickly fades.

He becomes defensive and weak as more and more people leave his side. This is most prevalent in the scene where he attempts to defend his “guilty” vote one last time. He stands up, and continues yelling and shouting his narrow minded opinions, much as he’d done the entire time. His arguments, now more than ever, are being entirely disregarded, and for good reason. Each point he is making is based solely on prejudice. He thinks he is powerful, but nothing he is saying is based on fact, or really has anything to do with the case.

One by one, the other jurors begin getting up from the table and ignoring him. Even the juror who was consistently making wise cracks during the deliberations is looking away from him. Soon, no one in the room is backing him. He then retires to the corner, alone. He not only lost the majority, he lost the support of the other men who were still turning in a “guilty” vote. This is a great example of power shifting, which we discussed in class. You asked us if it’s possible for power to shift during a negotiation, and this is a good demonstration of how it can.

Works Cited:

Ang, S., Van Dyne, L., & Koh, C.K.S. (2006). Personality correlates of the four factor model of cultural intelligence. Group and Organization Management, 31, 100-123.

Diamond, S. (2010). Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World. New York City, NY: Crown Publishing Group.

Earley, P.C., & Ang, S. (2003). Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.

Gates, S. (2011). The Negotiation Book: Your Definitive Guide To Successful Negotiating (1st ed.). United Kingdom, UK: John Wiley and Sons LTD.

Shell , R. G. (2006). Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People 2nd Edition (2nd ed.). New York City, NY: The Penguin Group.

Thompson, L. L. (2008). The Truth About Negotiations . Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.


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