12 Angry Men Film Analysis
25 October 2010
The film, 12 Angry Men (1957), is a drama about a jury that was to decide the fate of a teenaged boy who was facing the electric chair for supposedly killing his father with a switchblade knife. The twelve men were locked into a small, claustrophobic jury room on an unbearably hot summer day until they came up with a unanimous decision - either guilty or not guilty. Over the course of the film the votes went from eleven guilty and one not, to a unanimous vote of ‘not guilty’. The movie provides many examples of persuasive speaking, group communication and conflict, and different communication climates.
In the movie Henry Fonda’s character made good use of his persuasive ...view middle of the document...
He never out-right said he thought that the defendant was innocent, only that he believed there to be some doubt as to the certainty of his guilt. “It's always difficult to keep personal prejudice out of a thing like this. And wherever you run into it, prejudice always obscures the truth. I don't really know what the truth is. I don't suppose anybody will ever really know. Nine of us now seem to feel that the defendant is innocent, but we're just gambling on probabilities - we may be wrong. We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don't know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that's something that's very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it's SURE. We nine can't understand how you three are still so sure. Maybe you can tell us.” Fonda’s arguments were logical and unemotional unlike those of Jurors Three and Ten who, once their ‘evidence’ dried up, continued to vote guilty based on racist bigotry and a personal vendetta.
At the beginning of the deliberation process the jury was very much of a ‘groupthink’ mentality. If we all think he’s guilty, then he obviously must be. When Fonda’s character broke from the group and called them out on their decision, he forced them to defend their decision. With less pressure to conform with the group’s answer, others on the jury also started questioning the supposed facts of the case. In the end when Juror Three was the only one still voting guilty he gave in to the peer pressure and changed his vote.
I believe that 12 Angry Men is an excellent movie to use when analyzing group communication and conflict, different communication climates, as well as the use of persuasive speaking.