Of the twelve angry men in this movie, some are definitely older than others, and this age gap colors some of the decisions they make. But even more importantly, one of the key witnesses in the murder trial is an old man who may be making stuff up just to feel important. The only character who really understands the witness' motives is the oldest man on the jury, a man who understands what it's like to be old and to have nobody care about you.
In this sense, 12 Angry Men gives us a nice lesson in empathy for people whose experiences we might not usually think about. It also shows one more way in which the facts aren't quite as clear-cut as they originally seemed.
Questions About Old Age
- Do you think that the old witness (the elderly man) actually made up his testimony? Why or why not?
- How does Juror #8 figure out whether the old man was able to see the defendant running away from his apartment building after the murder? Is it a reliable way of figuring things out?
- Which character understands the elderly witness the best? What insight does he give us into the old man's mind?
- Is there anything about Juror #9's character or outlook that surprises you? Why or why not?
Chew on This
In 12 Angry Men, we learn that sometimes, old people can do unthinkable things just to get people to notice them.
12 Angry Men reminds us that old people are just as capable (or probably more capable) of being good jurors than young ones.