12 Angry Men: A Message of Kindness?

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When most people think of jury drama, they think of Reginald Rose’s play 12 Angry Men. And when some people think of the play 12 Angry Men, they think of the 1957 movie of the same name directed by Sidney Lumet. High school English teachers pop this movie in because of the way it defines American justice, its message that facts aren’t always as black and white as they appear, and its Schooling Juror #10 Drinking Game.

The story is about a jury deciding on the guilt or innocence of an eighteen-year-old boy accused of killing his father. 8 is initially the only one who votes not guilty, despite the fact that the testimonies and presented evidence show otherwise. He pokes holes in the facts and argues that the evidence isn’t as conclusive as it seems, and the other jurors slowly but surely change their votes.

While critics love this movie for its cinematography, acting, and obsession with the phrase ‘reasonable doubt,’ I thought I’d focus on a different aspect of the story: 8’s influence on the other jurors.

Let’s start with 8 and the way he interacts with the other jurors. He walks into the jury room, quiet and contemplative, only speaking when spoken to. When he’s asked why he votes not guilty, his only response is “I don’t know.” He starts his case by appealing to the other jurors’ humanity and asking to show the boy compassion by discussing the case.

As the arguments unfold and we hear about the testimonies and evidence presented, we learn that 8—though quiet—is by no means a pushover. Whenever someone says “this is fact” to him, he nearly always has a way of saying “maybe to you, but I’d like to know more.” He challenges them to stand by what they say, especially when they’re not as sure as they think they are.

But while he isn’t a pushover, he also isn’t a victim of toxic masculinity like 3 or 10. When he realizes he’s outnumbered, he gambles for support instead of trying to power through on his own. He respectfully listens to the opinions of the others, even if he doesn’t agree with them. In fact, the only instances where he ignores the other jurors is whenever 10 exhales bigoted bullshit. And the only time you see 8 visibly angry is when he catches 3 and 12 playing tic tac to instead of focusing on the case.

Now let’s look at the other jurors. 1 is a passive guy, trying and failing to keep the peace between the others. 2 is a passive banker who is more used to agreeing rather than voicing his own opinions. 3 is—as 8 refers to him in the story—a “self-appointed public avenger” who wants to see the boy die. 4 is a smart, analytical broker who is also the strongest advocate for sticking to the facts. 5 is a quiet man who grew up in the slums. 6 also tries to keep the peace, but he won’t tolerate any of the jurors being silenced or treated as less than human. 7 doesn’t care about the case at all, always checking the time and impatient to get to a baseball game. 9 is the oldest of the group who could pass for an empathetic psychologist. 10 is a bigot who values his own opinion too much. 11 is a quiet European immigrant who isn’t afraid to ask questions. And 12, like 7, doesn’t take the case seriously and cracks jokes when he probably shouldn’t.

The first six jurors to vote not guilty are 8, 9, 5, 11, 2, and 6. Out of the five who change their votes, four of them start off as quiet, and whenever they speak up they’re either insulted or not taken seriously by the other jurors. They’re treated as though their opinions don’t matter in the grand scheme of things (and if 6’s line “I’m not used to supposing” is anything to go by, they probably believe that they don’t matter). But as soon as they change their votes, they become strong advocates for the boy’s acquittal. In comparison, the majority of the other six (1, 3, 4, 7, 10, and 12) start out being loud, aggressive, and in some cases obnoxious. But by the time they change their votes, they don’t speak up as much—almost as if they’re humbled by being proven wrong.

What does this say about these two sides of the coin? Watch the film again and focus on how 8 interacts with everyone else—and how they respond to him. Again, 8 listens to everyone else and what they have to say. But he also asks questions. When talking to jurors like 2, 5, 9, and 11 in particular, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion does matter.” And when speaking to jurors like 3, 7, 10, and 12, it’s like he’s saying to them “your opinion is not the only one that matters.” With all of that said, maybe this movie was about more than just criminal justice. Maybe it also showed how kindness can empower the powerless and simultaneously humble the arrogant.

Photo source: http://screenprism.com/insights/article/how-does-12-angry-men-use-cinematography-to-build-tension-during-the-film


12 Good Harry Potter Movie Moments


Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

A lot of Potterheads will tell you that the Harry Potter movies don’t hold a candle to the books. And yes, you can’t argue with that. It’s a hard adaptation to pull off. But that’s not to say there wasn’t anything good in the films. You could tell that everyone involved with the movies gave it their all and tried to do justice to the original source. And if the Nostalgia Critic could find 11 good things in the Star Wars prequels, then I’m sure I can find 12 in the Harry Potter movies.

PS: Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ fantasy adventure ÒHARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Ð PART 2,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. PicturesÕ fantasy adventure ÒHARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Ð PART 2,Ó a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

#1: Final Duel Between Harry and Voldemort

It’s a little cheesy, but so is the scene in the book–in fact, if the book has a weak spot, it’s the final showdown. Harry spends a lot of time giving Voldemort one last chance to feel for what he’s done The point JK Rowling always made about Voldemort was that his soul was damaged beyond repair, so there was no turning back for him. But if that’s the case, why didn’t Voldemort try to kill Harry while he was stalling? He had him right there, what stopped him? Also, after Harry’s brought back and we understand why he’s still alive, you get the feeling that the war is already decided, thus it loses its suspense. In the movie, we still have that intense atmosphere. They show you what’s at stake and how determined everyone involved is for their side to win. They don’t just stand by and watch, they keep fighting. The aftermath is also a little better. If you spent all night fighting Nazis and you lost some friends in the process, would you be more likely to party right after the battle, or catch your breath, knowing there’s plenty of time to celebrate?


#2: All British Cast

At the beginning, Rowling said she wanted the movies to be filmed in England with the cast made up of people who lived in the United Kingdom. Normally, I’d feel queasy about such a request. I’ve seen ads for acting that request Caucasian main characters and/or love rivals, and for no good reason at all. Here, it makes sense to have a film setting in England where the characters have a genuine accent indigenous to the UK. It’s not all posh, either. Some of the characters have variations including Scottish and Irish brogues, which adds to the setting even more.

#3: Snape’s Memories

This is such a popular scene that I’ll let the clip speak for itself.


#4: Actors

I’m talking about the acting from the side characters. They don’t have a lot of screen time, but they take advantage of what they have. You don’t see twins acting like Fred and George, you see Fred and George. You don’t see Alan Rickman in a black cape, you see Professor Snape.

#5: Love Potion Scene

Again, I’ll let the scene speak for itself. It’s probably the funniest in the whole film series.

#6: Music

It’s hard to describe what makes the tunes work, except that it helps set up the atmosphere for the story. So again, let it speak for itself.

#7: Cedric’s Death

In the books, this is the scene where everything changes. Before, the story was comprised of standard adventures, with a bit of a dark twist here and there. The fourth book was full of insinuated disappearances and murders, but this is the first time someone you know dies and you see it for yourself. By this point, a boy is dead, Voldemort is back, and Robert Pattinson would sell his soul to Twilight to continue his acting career.


#8: JK Rowling as Advisor

According to her Harry Potter Wiki page, the author herself served as a consultant, working with Steve Kloves on the script and dropping hints to Snape’s and Hagrid’s actors to help bring their characters to life. Because of her, Kreacher stayed in the movies, Dumbledore did not have a crush on a girl, and Harry did not inherit Dumbledore’s wand at the end of Half Blood Prince.


#9: Effects

The special effects were easily the best part in all of the movies. From casting spells to floating pumpkins to house elves, the team deserved a lot for helping to bring the magic to the screen.


#10: Setting

Seriously, watch the movies again! Look at the castle! Look at Diagon Alley! Look at the Forbidden Forest! Look at Hagrid’s Hut!

#11: The Mirror of Erised

Though the mirror itself doesn’t play a role after the first book, this was still a good scene because the message was unique as well as heartbreaking. Having a desire is okay as long as you’re not obsessed to the point where you neglect everything else. It’s a rare message, and this short simple scene gets it across beautifully in both literature and cinema.

#12: Tale of the Three Brothers

One of my favorite scene in the books done to perfection in the movie. What else can I say?

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Halloween!”

Photo sources: http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/10/105675/1989584-hp_wallpaper_10_1024x819.jpg





Why Study the Arts?


Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Literature. Cinema. Music. Drama. Photography. No matter the medium, we’re all familiar with art, both good and bad, in every source it uses to avail itself. We all have movies, books, and songs in mind that we either love, hate, or feel indifferent to. But many seem to be split on how much of an impact the arts have on people.

Some would argue that art has a negative impact on society. In Plato’s Republic, Plato expressed his view on education and worried that the way we tell stories would serve as a bad influence to us. Plato knows that young people always watch the way their elders behave, whether they are parents, teachers, or even strangers. And these young people will often mimic what they see other people doing, thinking that what they’re witnessing is perfectly normal. With that in mind, Plato wondered if the arts should be used in education at all. And if so, should we set boundaries on the kinds of art that we expose our children and students to?

Considering some forms of ugly art that exist, I can understand what Plato is talking about. For example, Garbage Pail Kids is often regarded as one of the worst movies ever made—not only because it’s horribly written, directed, acted, and put together—but also because it’s a children’s movie that promotes disgusting behavior including theft, violence, and sexual cruelty. It’s a movie that makes people cringe and feel unclean just thinking about it. Instances like that justify Plato’s point.

Despite the bad forms of art that exist, too many good forms outnumber them. There are good authors, composers, film directors, actors, and other artists who seem determined to produce the best art they can and learn as much as possible. These people have a passion for what they do; when it comes through in their work, it’s beautiful to behold. Even if we’re not passionate about the arts, we all have a favorite story or song in the backs of our heads. Why? Because they mean something to us. For example, a good novel isn’t just a combination of good prose and good story elements. That’s certainly what it needs. But it’s much more than that; it’s an experience that leaves an impact on its readers, whether they’re aware of it or not. And when it does that, it becomes a story that we continue to read and talk about years after its time, even when other stories fade from our consciousness. That’s why we continue to read JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series or critically analyze William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets; they left a handprint on our memory that can’t be easily thrown away.

The purpose of good art is summarized best in this quote from film critic Doug Walker: “Good art doesn’t come from focus groups and statistics; it comes from people who share how they see things in their own unique way.” Since the time of Plato, the world has seen both good and bad forms of storytelling. Everything we read tells us a little bit about the people who share their creations and what they believe. Some forms such as the Twilight series are meant to give nothing more than momentary pleasure. But then there are artists who share a piece of something undeniably good with us through clever writing and meaningful morals. Dr. Seuss’s books have shaped our childhoods since the 1950s, and people are continuing to read his stories even today. And as adults, we still talk about works created by artists such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Louisa May Alcott, and Vincent Van Gogh because their works helped us to understand how other people see the world. Maybe art is far more educational than Plato understood it to be.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

photo source: http://www.summerfineartscamp.org/