This dramatic story was originally made as a TV movie, which influenced its expression, which seems to be out of the cinematic practice, as it takes place entirely in ninety minutes in a closed courtroom. Twelve jurors are asked to unanimously decide the guilt or innocence of a young man who is accused of murdering his father. The jurors are average Americans with ordinary interests and jobs.
In a run-off vote, eleven vote for guilt, with only juror number eight, architect Davis, opposed. He expresses serious reservations about the conduct of the trial and also criticizes the way the case was investigated. The script does not emphasize whether the defendant is guilty or not; rather, it is an authorial reflection on the possibilities of defending one's views, on doubt in the courtroom, and on responsibility for one's own statements. In this sense, the film goes far beyond its own plot and becomes a generalised image of a hurried civilisation.
The production team has created an unusual dramatic tension in limited spatial dimensions, masterfully revealing the mental processes of the individual actors in jury deliberations, where the slightest detail takes on the value of a symbol. Lumet's meticulous compositions and strong emphasis on all the lines are almost perfect. The superb script, the high level of professionalism in execution and the perfectly nuanced performances of the individual characters have contributed to the high and lasting value of this unusual work. It is worth mentioning that juror number 11 was played by Jiří Voskovec. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1957...