Tuesday, July 19, 2011


A friend whose favorite director is Sidney Lumet took me to see "12 Angry Men" at Film at Lincoln Center's Lumet festival. What a great film! I know it, of course - saw the stage revival in 2005, too, and even screened it for a class on Religion and Democracy. But of course since the last time I encountered the film, I've been on a jury myself. It's no accident that I posted a still from it the day before closing arguments - it was my image of what we were doing, its difficulty and its nobility. How does it hold up in comparison to an actual jury deliberation? Pretty well. I wouldn't go so far as to say that you could find each of the play/film's types in our jury, but a good many of them. We had everything from the dogmatist who declared her/his mind couldn't be changed to the immigrant civics lesson. (Not sure who I would have been.) Less drama, of course, and less class prejudice (it was gender stereotypes which we had to wrestle with), and, perhaps thankfully, less of the sense of a battle being won 11-1, 10-2, 9-4, 8-4, 6-6, 3-9, 2-10, 11-1. (We were stuck at 6-6 for a long time.) The lesson that just talking will uncover things, especially with a group of strangers, was certainly borne out. And in our trial as in the film (another strength of the film), you never find out if the verdict reached was the right one. (For as much as I can tell you about our trial, look here.)

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