12 Angry Men: space is everything.
Have you ever thought about why Star Wars happens in space? Or, why does Mad Max takes place in a post-apocalyptic world? This is as simple as that in these films, space is part of the meaning of the plot and what the story wants to convey. If Star Wars or Mad Max occurred in different settings, their essence would change radically.
Based on this, what comes to mind when you think of a jury room? Probably the first thing you think of is some courtroom seen on television, but no, we are talking about the jury room, what kind of space do you think it is?.
If youâ€™ve seen 12 Angry Men, Sidney Lumet's 1957 film, then the first thing you will think of is a room with twelve people sitting talking, but quite the opposite of a comfortable and serene setting, the 12 men in this film are quite heated and tense, a sensation with which the director knew how to transfer the audience, all without leaving a single room.
With nothing more than a long table, twelve chairs, a broken fan and a couple of closed windows, an oppressive atmosphere is created, which will be reflected in the expressions, mood and comments of the protagonists, a whole cast of stars gathered in one place: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Lee J. Cobb, EG Marshall, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec and Robert Webber.
From the hand of the screenwriter Reginald Rose, Lumet managed to impress with a single room, capable of telling a closed story and generating great suspense in every second that the film lasts.
While most courtroom movies focus on the pre-trial incident we see on screen, 12 Angry Men (1957) transports the viewer beyond the courtroom, to the space where 12 jury members decide whether a boy must be sentenced to death.
Set in New York during the summer of the 1950s, the film is the living example of how a space and its furniture, correctly chosen and implemented, can generate pressure and directly influence emotions and decisions, so much so that even the decision of whether a person lives or dies can be affected by the environment of the place where it is being taken.
In 12 Angry Men (1957) a key factor is the uncomfortable summer heat that hits New York, because this immediately affects the jury room where the only fan that could lessen the sweltering heat a bit does not work, and only one window can be open. The high temperature puts pressure on the members of the jury, so much so that at some point an argument develops about whether or not it is okay to have the window open, creating even more hostility and tension between the characters.
This is an extraordinary example of how the distribution of space and ventilation within it can intensely affect the rationality, disposition, and comfort of the inhabitants living in it.