January 22, 2012

Must Watch Before You Die #24: 12 Angry Men (1957)

I must confess that I'm not very sure about every movie I recommend here as a 'must watch', because my reasons for selecting one might not be sufficient to convince others. But at times I am absolutely confident about the choice, and Sidney Lumet's '12 Angry Men' is one of those movies. I watched it last night for the second time and was blown away by it yet again. As I recommend it here, I can't imagine there can be any one who would not like this film.

'12 Angry Men' is a must-watch because:
  • It is perhaps the finest example of the triumph of the script. The film has nothing to seduce you - visually, art-wise, not even attractive women or lovable kids. It just has a clear and captivating plot with some unforgettable characters. For all students of cinema this is one example of what good writing can achieve.
  • It proves that you do not need any resources to make a good film. If you have a good script, all you need is good performers. The way Lumet has used the limitations of space and time to his advantage is amazing. 90 minutes in one small dull room, in almost real time, and it still won't let you blink. For all young filmmakers wanting to make their first film, it is a great inspiration. It was Lumet's first and then he had an illustrious career with films like 'Dog Day Afternoon' and 'Network'. Today he is considered as one of the finest American filmmakers of all time.
  • It is one of the most violent films, despite having no moment of physical violence. Not a single slap, but it is still so powerful. It is also a great psychological study of human minds, and an effortless and sharp critique of the society we live in.
  • Most importantly, and like other Lumet films, it should be watched for its performances.
I'm so inspired by this film that this morning I started a shot-by-shot study of it. Hopefully, I'll finish it in the next 10 days. I don't know whether posting it here would be helpful for the readers of this blog, but we'll see. Presently, it is giving me immense satisfaction as a student of screen grammar.

Do watch it soon!


  1. Dear Satyanshu Sir,
    I'll watch it as soon as possible (downloading speed is almost dead here). Long before, I watched a movie named The Sunset Limited written by Cormac Carthy and Directed by Tommy Lee Jones. It is, too, quite a low budgeted movie. Might be directed within a week or so in a small room. May be it'd be a very fascinating for you to watch this movie. One strong reason to do is that it has a best writing feature. Cormac Carthy has a Novel with the same name before getting into this movie Do watch it too.

  2. 'Ek Ruka Hua Faisla'; the film deserves credit for a 'great' copying!?

  3. I had first watched 'Ek Ruka Hua Faisla' and was greatly impressed by it. Later, I discovered this shameful fact. I have not seen a truer 'copy'!
    So even my first experience of '12 Angry Men' was affected as I watched it with a lot of regret and shame.
    And hence, this second viewing was magical!

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