This essay will compare & contrast the protagonist/antagonist’s relationship with each other and the other jurors in the play and in the movie versions of Reginald Rose’s 12 Angry Men. There aren’t any changes made to the key part of the story but yet the minor changes made in making the movie adaptation produce a different picture than what one imagines when reading the drama in the form of a play.
First off, the settings in the movie are a great deal more fleshed out. In the play, the scene begins with the jurors regarding the judge’s final statements concerning the case in the courtroom and then walking out into the jury room. In the movie, the audience is placed in the role of the invisible casual observer, who for perhaps the first 5 minutes of the movie, walks throughout the court building passing other court rooms, lawyers, defendants, security officers, elevators, etc. Not able to remember much about this particular part of the movie, I believe this introductory scene’s purpose was to either enhanced the realism of the setting by emphasizing the court building’s efficient, business like manner or to provide a timeslot in which to roll the credits for producer, director, stars, etc. The settings aren’t only built upon through use of scenery and extras in the movie. Invisible and distant in the play, we see in the movie the judge, bailiff, those witnessing the trial and most importantly of all- the defendant. This is an important change because in the play, we are free to come up with our own unbiased conclusions as to the nature and identity of the defendant, whom we only know to a be a 19 year boy from the slums. Seeing his haggard and worn face in the movie changes all of that, yet for better or worse, it engages the audience deeper into the trial as they surely will sympathize with him and can gain some insight into why, later, Juror 8 does so as well. Of final note in this summary of points concerning the differences in setting, the jurors all mention the heat wave affecting the city when they begin, and as it agitates them, it serves to heighten the tension between each other and their resentment or other feelings towards jury duty. Oh- also lastly, I think we can infer that the movie takes place in Manhattan, New York City. Which jurors are from which boroughs is easily obvious and yet I’m hesitant to say that the defendant could be from any of them- slums were persistent in those times.
Concerning the characterization of the cast and their conflicts with each other, the movie holds true to the play’s guidelines. For the most part, each character I saw in the movie matched up with the picture my mind’s eye had painted whilst I was reading the play. One thing irked me however: all the jurors seemed at least 10 years older that I had imagined them. For instance, I had seen Juror 8- the protagonist of the play and Juror 3- his rival, the antagonist as being perhaps 30-ish or so and spirited and vibrant in their arguments. While somewhat vibrant they were, their age made them seem to come across as being more stubborn and grumpy (at least in, Juror 3’s case) than lively. Even Juror 2- the meek, weak and timid-spoken one, I thought would be so because of the age disparity between him and the older (and thus, supposedly- wiser) jurors. Yet he is portrayed as such a man but balding and smoking a pipe. His voice, however, fit nicely to its role. The conflicts in the movie, while also being more fleshed out than in the play, did match up essentially but there was one point- I thing just before Juror 8 asks for the diagram of the apartment- that the movie’s directors took the liberty to take dialogue from later in the play and put it there, greatly confusing me and hampering my ability to follow along.
In analyzing the differences in the antagonist’s and protagonist’s relationship with each other and the other jurors, it too held to the play’s guidelines with the various alliances and verbal sparring making sense in light of each juror’s moral alignment and personality. There was one difference, a minor or major one depending how it was viewed. Detached from the ending, Juror 3 being more humanely portrayed in the movie than in the play was a minor change. Seen in relation to the movie’s ending, Juror 3’s inner conflicts and humanness is a very a major change.
Finally the endings are to be discussed. Here, the play and the movie are obviously very different. The director with his poetic license makes a very obvious change only hinted at subtly earlier on and the impact it has on the audience’s conclusions at the end of the movie and the differences between that and those garnered at the end of the play are great. He tells us that Juror 3 was an abusive and uncaring father who, because he caused him to run away, has not seen his son- very similar to the defendant- in over 2 years. Ah, now we can see where his biases stem from: past negative experiences with his son, the rebellious nature of which justifies the execution of the defendant. Yet at the very end of the movie we sympathize with Juror 3 just as we did with defendant. We see his brutish, sadistic demeanor is just a façade, and at one point he too was an innocent father who simply made wrong choices. I think that the change in the ending was for the better because it clarified Juror 3’s motives greatly. The play’s ending did not- one got the feeling that Juror 3 was simply pressured into voting not guilty. We come away from it with a greater feeling self-satisfaction at the resolved trial.
So, save for, but also including the ending, the changes made in the move adaptation of Rose’s play, “12 Angry Men”- the enhanced setting, great character casting and tense conflict and resolve- only served to enhanced it’s quality and make it enjoyable to watch.
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