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Cinematic Techniques In 12 Angry Men

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Sidney Lumet 's staggering courtroom drama 12 Angry Men mostly takes place in the cramped jury room where a dozen “men with ties” decide the fate of Puerto Rican teenager accused of murdering his abusive father. Yet the prologue to their civic imprisonment, which takes place beyond these confined walls, sets the stage for Lumet 's overarching concerns about the contradictions of the democratic process. After a few short establishing shots where men, women, and children traverse the plaza steps and interior hallways of the court building, Lumet and director of photography Boris Kaufman focus on a particular door, where one of many cases currently in motion is just about to reach critical mass. The legal arguments have subsided, leaving the courtroom mostly silent and the fate of the accused in the hands of the aforementioned 12 white men. Before their dismissal, the judge looks down at the group and bequeaths them to “separate the fact from…show more content…
It takes a confined, almost completely banal real-world location and makes it completely dynamic, using incredibly nimble camera movements to establish character motivation and theme. Kaufman 's fluid long takes track each character as they leave the table in anger and frustration, the men departing for sporadic moments of personal reflection before returning to the heated discussion. Seemingly simple conversations lead to damning assumptions about ideology and purpose, and each man brings their own set of moral baggage to the table. This allows the location to grow in depth as the characters become more fully developed. In turn, the smooth visuals have a strange effect on the narrative itself; they juxtapose a narrative seamlessness of cause and effect with the building uneasiness in each man, creating a volatile and unpredictable feel that rivals the extreme shifts in weather (from sweltering heat to torrential downpour) beyond the juror room
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