Anybody doing the dealing with the concern of bias in R. E. class will discover 12 Angry Men an important resource, though there isn’t any overt faith element. I discover using individual short scenes to be the best method– time to show and talk about within one class period. I have actually picked what I consider to be 5 crucial scenes that show the style effectively even to do three of them would provide a week’s work. In this commentary I’m dealing mostly with the 1957 variation directed by Sidney Lumet, but many comments would likewise apply to the 1997 variation by William Friedkin.
In truth for RE classes it may be worth making some contrasts as the jury in the latter is more ethnically well balanced, and the judge is a female, though there are still 12 Men. Keep in mind also that the 1957 film is on the Leaving Cert English course for June 2007, so beware of stealing the thunder of touchy English instructors!
Scene 1: Opening Scene– in the jury space prior to the very first vote Jurors 3 and 10 are the most clearly discriminative people.
Juror 3: “I ‘d slap those difficult kids down prior to they start any problem”, a best example of prejudging.
Juror 10: “You know what we’re dealing with … they let those kids run wild out there”. The director might not have actually planned it, however the movie could also be accused of revealing bias towards ladies and black individuals by omitting them from the procedures.
Scene 2: First vote to second vote: Jurors 3 and 10 express their prejudices rather openly here.
Juror 3: “the kid’s an unsafe killer, you can see it”; “it’s the kids, the method they are nowadays” (in relation to their not calling their daddies “Sir” anymore); “kids– you work your heart out …”.
We see that in some cases individuals aren’t even conscious of their own prejudices– juror 3: “I have no individual sensations about this”. Juror 10 is worse: “I’ve lived amongst them all my life, you can’t believe a word they state … they’re born liars”. For all his logic and cool headedness, juror 4 has an element of prejudice, or at least he’s really insensitive in what he states: “children from shanty town backgrounds are potential threats to society”. Juror 10 reacts with “the kids who crawl out of these places are real whip”.
Juror 5, who comes from such a background (and is shown to be sensitive and well mannered) takes offence, and the foreigner (juror 11) can relate to being offended like this: “this sort of sentiments I can understand”, suggesting that he too has suffered prejudice (as he does later in the film).
Scene 3: Losing the Cool – juror 3 provoked (this scene begins just after the re-enactment of the old man witness’ walk to his door and ends with another vote, which leaves it 6-6). The prejudices and emotional baggage of juror 3 become quite prominent here.
He accuses other jurors of having “hearts bleedin’ all over the floor about slum kids and injustice” and warns “he’s got to burn. You’re letting him slip through our fingers”. He says he’d willingly “pull the switch” on the young defendant. Earlier he said it wasn’t personal, but juror 8 accuses him: “you want to see this boy die because you personally want it, not because of the facts. You’re a sadist”. That last comment prompts juror 3 to attack juror 8. Juror 10 again shows his prejudice: 10: “a kid like that”, again irritating juror 9, the old man: “that man gets on my …
“. We see here how prejudice mixed with high emotion can lead to violence. Is juror 8 too insulting here? Or just trying to provoke a useful reaction (the empty death threat, which has relevance for the case)?
Scene 4: Juror 10’s Bigoted Rant This issue comes very much to the forefront here with this final rant of juror 10 – both in his speech and in the moral juror 8 draws at the end of it. We see that as a prejudiced person becomes more cornered and isolated he can become more strident, extreme and offensive. Even juror 3, who has his own prejudices, turns his back on him.
It shows that as prejudice becomes more obvious more reasonable people can see it for what it is and reject it, as happens here. The outburst may also have an effect on the bigot – juror 10 shortly changes his vote and says no more after this – either he’s got it out of his system, recognises how unpleasant his bigotry is, or just sees no point in holding out. Juror 8 showed more courage in sticking with his position when he was isolated in the beginning. Excerpts from the rant: “You know how these people lie, it’s born in them … They don’t know what the truth is … they don’t need any real big reason to kill someone either … they’re real big drinkers, all of ’em … Nobody’s blaming them for it, that’s the way they are, by nature, you know what I mean, violent … Human life don’t mean as much to them as it does to us … Sure, there’s some good things about them too … This kid is a liar … I know all about them. … They’re no good, there’s not a one of them who’s any good… His type, don’t you know about them? … These people are dangerous, they’re wild”. The prejudice is condemned out of its own mouth, seen for what it is in all its ugliness.
Scene 5: The End This is juror 3’s last stand.
In his final desperation he accuses the others of being “a lousy bunch of bleedin’ hearts”. He shows again the prejudice he has shown earlier about young kids who are, as he sees it, disrespectful to their fathers. The fact that this is his motivation is shown by the way he looks at, and eventually tears up the photo of himself with his estranged son. As he weakly goes back over the discredited evidence he repeats his prejudice – “Rotten kids, you work your life out”. Like juror 10 he eventually breaks down, perhaps realising finally what his real motivation is.
Again we see how prejudice can get extreme when cornered, but also that when a prejudiced person is isolated instead of being part of a group he can sometimes give up (lack of individual courage? ) and perhaps gain some insight into his own outlook. We get two types of prejudice here. The prejudice of juror 3 is more personal, while that of juror 10 was more socially orientated. I have more resources on 12 Angry Men which I can email to people on request (Word doc attachments).
Cite this essay
Theme of Prejudice in the Film 12 Angry Men. (2017, Jan 19). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/theme-of-prejudice-in-the-film-12-angry-men-essay