A loose remake of 12 Angry Men, set in a Russian school. 12 jurors are struggling to decide the fate of a Chechen teenager who allegedly killed his Russian stepfather. The stepfather took the boy to live with him in Moscow, during Chechnya war, in which the teenager lost his parents. The jurors: a racist taxi-driver, a suspicious doctor, a vacillating TV producer, a Holocaust survivor, a flamboyant musician, a cemetery manager, and others represent the fragmented society of modern day Russia. A stray bird (a touch of New Age cinema) is flying above the jurors’ heads, alluding to tolerance. — IMDb
Nikita Mikhalkov, perhaps the most internationally famous living Russian filmmaker and actor is the son of soviet poets Sergei Vladimirovich Mikhalkov and Natalya Petrovna Konchalovskaya and brother of well-known Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky. He started with acting at the children’s studio of the Moscow Art Theatre and later at the Schukin School of the Vakhtangov Theatre. Still as a student he appeared in Georgi Danelyia’s film I Walk Down Moscow (1964) and few years later in his brother – Andrei Konchalovsky’s – film Home of the Gentry (1969). While on the best way to become a star of the Soviet stage and cinema, he decided to study directing at VGIK (State film school in Moscow) in the class of Mikhail Romm and Andrei Tarkovsky. From VGIK he graduated in 1970 with the short film A Quiet Day at the End of the War. The fame and recognition came along with his first feature At Home Among Strangers (1974), a Red Western set just after the 1920s civil war in Russia.
His… read more
Great great actors and excellent mise-en-scène (the long shots for example). I didn't like as much as Sydney Lumet's version though which really was a "huis clos". The scenes - in Mikhalkov's version - with the boy dancing etc, were not really that important I think and the small special effects (the glow around the object) were a bit kitsch... but despite those things this was enjoyable!
I loved it, even the seemingly out of place stories. The original had far more annoying (and thus effective) antagonist characters, but I can relate to Russian social matters better than American ones. 12 also has style, very good editing, and those Stanislavskian Russian actors who really get to you. A provocative snapshot of a post-communist country.
Based on the classic “12 Angry Men”, by Sidney Lumet, which is pretty well known in Russia.
Mikhalkov, obviously, did not have Lumet’s financial limitations, which in the end served the latter… read review