Now I’m not one for absolutes. There are always nuances to everything, but I think that 12 Angry Men is one of the best movies to study for dialogue. Especially if you’re just starting to analyze the media you consume critically. Trust me, I love mind-numbing shows after a long day, but as I’ve started studying story, I’ve started to rewire my brain to analyze and pick apart.
So instead of “Oh, I love this character” when the screen flicks to my favorite character, I say “Oh, I love the internal conflict of this character and how they’re influencing the overall narrative.”
Because as the average Joe we think in macro terms of the big pictures that flash across the screen, but as writers we have to start thinking on a micro level and analyze cause and effect of the story, among other things.
12 Angry Men
12 Angry Men was created in 1957 by Reginald Rose. This is a book I have not read yet, but the movie has made me want to read it…and yes, this is a black and white film and before you disregard this movie just because it’s old let me try to convince you because the fact that it’s black and white will be so helpful because you won’t get distracted. Shows and movies today are very bright and there’s a lot of things going on, but that is why my recommendation is this movie because it’s the bare bones. It takes place in one room with 12 men sitting around a table, as simple as it can be, but that complements the heavy topic that the movie talks about. The movie plot is about a young man’s trial on whether he killed his father or not. That sets the scene, and then we are a fly on the wall as the jurors discuss his guilt with the entire vote being 11 for guilty and 1 for not guilty.
The jurors are only referred to as Juror # so that’s forcing you to identify them somehow and the dialogue makes you identify each by their internal conflicts and biases. It’s something that you don’t have to actively look for because all you have to hold onto is the words and actions of each juror. You’re able to trace their thought process just by their dialogue.
I don’t want to spoil the movie too much or sway your interpretation of it but give it a watch and look for the motivations of each character and what it is about the way they speak that is reflective of their internal conflict, or biases.
Thank you for reading. Now, go forth and write, I believe in you!
Heres a affiliate link for a list of books I recommend: