What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a gripping drama that makes assets out of a simple situation (the ordinary deliberations of a jury) and setting (the room where they have been sequestered). Despite its age, this drama still has a lot to say about the principles on which the American justice system is based, as well as issues of prejudice.
What's the story?
"Nice bunch of guys, huh?" one juror remarks sarcastically after a particularly heated argument. The juror played by Henry Fonda replies, "They're about the same as anyone else." That observation is central to 12 ANGRY MEN, which creates mesmerizing drama in an event that takes place many times every day throughout the United States: a man is tried by a jury of his peers.
Is it any good?
Although 12 Angry Men is almost half a century old, its examination of the jury system is as valid as ever, and it may be even more important today when media sensationalism has such a strong effect on public perceptions of the accused. The movie stresses that the most crucial issue is not whether the jurors think the accused is guilty, but, according to the law, whether that has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Henry Fonda, perfectly cast as a man who values reason, leads a troupe of familiar character actors in a movie that makes a virtue out of its cramped setting. Fonda is one of the great movie stars who will be discovered afresh by new generations.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about confusing aspects of the legal system and the complex topic of prejudice. Parents may also want to explore the idea of being tried by a "jury of your peers," since it's easy for kids to assume that peers are people who are similar to the accused in nearly every way.