Umutcan Yılmaz
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Twelve Angry Men

03/10/2022 Edebiyat

Twelve Angry Men was written by Reginald Rose and premiered in London in 1964, but it took the Roundabout Theatre Company 50 years to bring it to Broadway. I watched the adaptation of Mahmut Yıldırım of Elazığ Devlet Productions. The stage setting and acting performances were sufficent. Characters’ states of minds and expected actions would be seen by their faces. A jury decides whether an 18-year-old poor and previously convicted young boy should be free or executed. As in these years, city surveillance cameras were not available, so justice used to mainly rely on juries and witnesses. Even if one person votes on behalf of the young boy, discussions continue. Otherwise, the defendant will receive a death sentence by electric chair. The evidence appears to be credible at first glance: a neighbor testified that she saw the defendant stab his father through the windows of her house and the windows of a passing elevated train. Another neighbor testified that he heard the defendant threaten to kill his father and heard the father’s body strike the ground before seeing the defendant rushing down the stairs as he opened his door. The young man had recently acquired a switchblade similar to the one recovered at the crime scene but claimed to have misplaced it. Fingerprints had been removed from the knife at the site. The jurors appear to be taking the decision lightly at first. All jurors voted guilty in a preliminary vote held by Juror 1, with the exception of Juror 8, who believes that there should be further debate before the decision is reached. He claims that he is unable to vote guilty since there is a reasonable doubt. With his reasons appearing to have failed to persuade any of the other jurors, Juror 8 proposes a secret ballot, from which he will abstain; if all of the other jurors vote guilty, he will capitulate. There is one not guilty vote on the ballot. Juror 9 states that he altered his decision after learning about Juror 8’s motivations and agreeing that there should be more debate. The noise of the passing train, according to Juror 8, would have concealed the threat that the second witness claimed to have overheard. Jurors 5 and 11 both change their votes.

The second witness’ story is further questioned by jurors 5, 6, and 8. The jury concluded that the witness could not have made it to his door in such a short period of time after studying a diagram of his apartment and doing an experiment. Juror 3 is enraged, and after a verbal altercation, he attempts to assault Juror 8. Jurors 2 and 6 switched their votes, leaving the jury evenly split. Juror 4 is skeptical of the defendant’s alibi, citing the boy’s inability to recollect specific specifics about his alibi. Juror 8 puts Juror 4’s memory to the test. Juror 7 alters his vote halfheartedly, prompting an inquisition by Juror 11. Jurors 12 and 1 modified their ballots after another vote, leaving only three guilty votes. Before the remainder of the jurors return to the case, Juror 8 makes a comment concerning reasonable doubt. When asked why he still votes guilty, Juror 4 claims that the woman who witnessed the killing from across the street is “solid proof.” Juror 12 votes guilty once more.After watching juror 4 rub his nose, irritated by the indentations on his glasses, juror 9 notes that the first witness also had the same indentations on her nose and was rubbing it constantly, suggesting that she also had one wore glasses, but none wore court out of vanity. Juror 8’s reasoning was that the witness was trying to fall asleep when he saw the killing, but she wasn’t wearing glasses when it happened, and she didn’t have time to put them on to see the person stabbed clearly, letting her story become suspicious. Juror 3 remains the only dissenting juror after all three other jurors changed their votes. Juror 3 keeps talking about how he doesn’t have a good relationship with his son because of his problems, and how he wants the boy to be found guilty because he thinks it will make him a better person. He muttered “not guilty” to a unanimous vote. As the other jurors leave the room, Juror 8 helps the remorseful Juror 3 with his coat. The defendant is found not guilty on the grounds that the prosecution has not provided enough evidence to prove guilt. The main message is that how jury should act. People tend to show conformity, even if they are not sure about something, they show herd mentality. With jury 8, their sense of mission grows stronger. Without forcing anyone to accept his doubts, he tries to make them think about everything as he does. The ones who argue, actually do not trust their opinions but act on their egos. So they feel much worse when they realize they are wrong, not only by themselves but by other people.

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