Alfred Hitchcock was an advocate of visual storytelling. “Pure cinema” is what he called it. He wasn’t keen on movies that relied heavily on dialogue: Hitchcock cheekily referred to them as “photographs of people talking”.
Would the Master of Suspense have liked “12 Angry Men” then? Sidney Lumet’s classic is a very talky talkie: a courtroom drama, that most garrulous of movie genres. But Lumet proves to be a visually gifted director. When it comes to staging this long jury deliberation, his blocking is inspired and makes the power plays crystal clear.
In this chatty feature film, a silent short is hiding. We isolated the shots in which no character is talking: the quiet lulls in the stormy debate and the wordless reaction shots. We fashioned these silent shots into a six minute montage, adding only music and non-verbal sounds from the film. No dialogue. (Well, almost none. You’ll hear).
Is the story arc still comprehensible? Can you still sense the tension and the power struggles between the twelve jurors? Judge for yourself.