Well, gentlemen, Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, so if you’re looking for a romantic movie to cozy on up to your woman with…this should probably be your very last choice (or at least tied with Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure).
I’m not sure if I love 12 Angry Men because it’s awesome or because I saw it in school and it got me out of sitting through a lecture. Either way, my verdict is “Go ahead and watch this movie.”
12 Angry Men has a lot of subtle touches that really enhance the drama of the story. From the symbolism of Henry Fonda’s white wardrobe to the gradual encroachment of the camera to enhance claustrophobia, this really is a well-made movie.
It’s also got a great cast, led by a man of whom I’m very Fonda. (ha-HA! I kill myself.) I won’t take the time to go through the rest of the cast, but it includes a couple of guys from Tora! Tora! Tora! plus the voice of Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.
And not to be immature or anything, but there is a discomforting amount of sweaty armpits in this film. It’s actually quite distracting. I daresay Yellowstone itself couldn’t hold a candle to the salty hot springs flaunted by the foreman alone. And as long as we’re debating criminal offenses, I think each of those 12 angry men ought to get 20 to life for public lewdness and blatant disregard for antiperspirant.
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: This movie dives deep into the reality that the fate of the accused rests in the hands of imperfect people. But like I always say: It’s better to have our justice system in the hands of 12 angry men than 13 lethargic mice. (I say that almost daily.)
Really, though, every time I watch this movie I can’t help but be grateful for a government that values the voice of the people, giving men and women from all walks of life the opportunity and privilege to exercise their civic duties.
Sometimes, as seen in this film, our differences can seem to clash while exercising these duties. We are all prejudiced in some way, shape, or form in how we see the world, but those differences only make our country stronger, providing we share one crucial similarity: a mutual love and respect for one another.
It is the common decency of respectful debate and dialogue that differentiates hateful divisiveness from healthy diversity.
It is vital that we hear each other out, no matter how passionate we might be about our side of the issue. Too many people have given up their lives for us not to respect the right of others to express their opinion in a lawful and legal way.
If we truly desire to be heard, we do not resort to violence. Martin Luther King, whose example Americans celebrate in a national holiday this week, did it the right way—the peaceful way—and he was perhaps the most effective individual in fighting for racial justice that this country has ever seen.
May we see our fellow citizens as brothers and sisters—and all whom we judge in life—as innocent until proven guilty.
“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment…but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” — Leviticus 19:15