Film Techniques in Twelve Angry Men Summary: Reviews the film Twelve Angry Men, directed by Sidney Lumet. Discusses the director’s use of cinematic techniques, including lighting, music,and set design, to reinforce the themes of the story. ________________________________________ “Twelve Angry Men”, directed by Sidney Lumet, is a film which portrays intentions significantly employed by the use of film techniques. Although entirely set in a cramped, humid jury room (except for the few minutes at the beginning and end), Lumet applies many different film techniques to great effectiveness.
Lumet’s usage of different types of camera shots is likeliest to be the most efficacious method of illustrating intentions in the film. Towards the beginning of the film, as the judge is stating the important criteria for the decision regarding ‘reasonable doubt’, the camera pans across the serious faces of all the jury members, briefly but slowly introducing all twelve of the jurors, the speed of this pan shot resembles the lengthy decision that the jurors have been faced with. As the jury leaves for the jury room, an effective, motionless and silent close up of the defendant is shown, portraying the innocence and fear of the boy.
As the film enters the jury room, the frame dissolves and eventually the inside of the jury room is revealed, a dysfunctional fan is immediately seen by viewers, this is intended to expose the heat and humidity of the room to viewers. Towards the end of the film, when the majority of the jury is leaning towards an innocent vote, there is a scene where Lumet shows all the jurors voting not guilty standing faced backwards in a circle towards a juror arguing that the defendant is guilty.
This scene, just like the effectiveness of many other clever frame set-ups used by Lumet, represents a ‘circular rejection’ it makes the one juror both physically and mentally isolated. Lumet rarely uses close-ups in the film, but when he does, they are very successful. The close-ups either emphasises a ‘reaction’ of a certain juror or is used as a way of cutting to the curical point of an argument and stating the obvious after it has been debated by others, one man in particular who often does this is ‘Juror Number Nine’ (The oldest juror).
Furthermore, Lumet uses the film technique of different ‘camera lenses and angles’ to emphasize his intentions during the film. He employs numerous methods to enhance the ever-building tension throughout the room, including physically moving the walls in on the actors to enhance the feeling of claustrophobia. One case of this occurring is performed throughout the whole movie.
As the story continues, Lumet gradually changes the lenses of longer focal lengths, so that the backgrounds seems to close in on the characters as the movie progresses, this gives viewers the feeling that there is an increasingly amount of pressure and tension filling the room as the decision becomes more uneasy on the jurors. Another example employed by Lumet to raise the tension level of the film is by using various camera angles during the film. Lumet shoots the first third of the movie above eye level, shoots the second third at eye level and the last third from below eye level.
In that way, as the film begins we look down on the characters, and the angle suggests that they can be comprehended and mastered. By the end, the ceiling is visible, the characters loom over us, and we feel overwhelmed by the force of their passion. In addition, Lumet also implements the techniques of ‘lighting’ and ‘music’ to highlight to viewers the mood of the film, and also to allow viewers to focus on the important features of the frame. ‘Lighting’ is used by Lumet effectively throughout the whole film; light is only shone on what the director wants viewers’ attention on.
For example, when the jurors are speaking, the walls and corners of the room are very dark and shadowy; the light is only on the juror who is speaking because the director wishes viewers to be paying all of their attention to the speaker. This is an effective way to express a vital argument to the viewers as they are concentrating entirely on the juror who is speaking and nothing else. The lighting is also focused on important objects in the room such as the knife and the diagram so that viewers are allowed to get a clear look and understanding of the evidence that is being showed. Music’ is also another important method used in the film; it is used set the mood and tone of the film. Towards the beginning of the film, where the jurors enter the jury room, a solo flute theme is played; the slow and solemn pace of the music portrays the serious task that the twelve jurors have been set. During the decision of the case between the jurors, many musical themes arise to set the different moods that occur throughout the film. An example of this is towards the end of the film, where there are eleven votes to one. Juror umber three’s anger is expressed with fast loud music, then when he finally says “Not guilty, not guilty”, both the music and mood develops into a ‘tranquil and peaceful’ state. Sidney Lumet implements film techniques to great depth and meaning throughout the film, “Twelve Angry Men. ” He applies them effectively, enabling viewers to sense the raw emotion of all the jurors who debated away on such a weighty decision. But most importantly, he uses film techniques to maintain the attention of viewers, giving them the opportunity to completely experience the passion of such an emotion filled story.