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01 July 2008

12 Angry Men

I just finished watching this (the Henry Fonda version from '56), and I am utterly floored by it. This movie is amazing. The entire movie takes place in a jury room and consists solely of dialogue. There are no special twists or turns, but the movie is riveting and enthralling. Fantastic acting by all of the men in the film, especially Fonda.

What I liked most about this movie is the subtle commentary on the justice system and how our own prejudices and ideals of "truth" completely influence us to make decisions ... that control someone else's fate ... without really sifting through and considering all of the facts and possibilities. When we see a face in the paper or in a courtroom or n the news, we make up our minds within the first few moments about that person's guilt or innocence. Even when facts are presented to contradict our position, we cling to our initial assessment. Whether it's conscious or not, it happens. It is still unfair and dangerous, and this movie highlights that. It's truly amazing.

And, while I'm on the justice system, this whole idea of a "jury of our peers" is total crap. A jury of my peers would consist of people who hold terminal degrees in the liberal arts and live in the median to upper level of society. They are liberal-leaning and between the ages of 25 and 35. But I can guarantee you that if I were on trial for murder tomorrow (which I'm not! I assure you!), my jury would be comprised of conservative senior citizens (because, seriously, they love jury duty because they have nothing better to do) living just above the poverty line. Those are my peers?! They get to decide my fate?! Um ... no. I don't think so. In fact, the only thing that I would have in common with my "peers" is, most likely, my skin color. That's it.

So, long story short, if you haven't seen it, you need to. Now. Go to the video store today. I mean it. Seriously.
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