The Experiment

The Experiment (2001)

The Experiment
7.4/10 by 233 users

Das Experiment is a shocking psycho thriller about the potential for brutality that humans hide. Even more shocking is the fact that it’s based on an actual occurrence—a 1971 psychological experiment at Stanford University that was aborted prematurely when the experimenters lost control.

Original Title:Das Experiment
Release Date:March 7, 2001
Genres:Drama, Thriller
Production Company:Senator Film Produktion, Fanes Film, Seven Pictures, Typhoon
Production Countries:Germany
Director:Oliver Hirschbiegel, Isabel Kleefeld
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:prison, rape, journalist, authority, prisoner, experiment, blackbox, scientific study, aggression, test person, imprisonment, asylum, prison cell, manipulation, torture, violence, humiliation
  • A Fascinating and Disturbing Film
    December 6, 2004
    Based on a real psychological experiment at Stanford University in 1971, using a group of male students, the mood of this film captures the sense of disorientation and loss of reality that was experienced by the original volunteers. Acts of humiliation present a violent and effective method for stripping individuality and asserting power over prisoners. The psychological transformations into masochistic and submissive roles are fascinating when you consider that that the only real distinguishable difference between the characters, is that by a random selection process, some are labeled 'wardens' and others are labeled 'prisoners'. The levels of violence, brutality and humiliation in the film seem extreme but in the original experiment, humiliation tactics were also extreme – prisoners were also made to wear chains round their ankles and stockings on their heads at all times! The film's conclusion is carefully constructed and appears to bear an implicit reference to the real prison riot of San Quentin (which occurred the day after the Stanford experiment was prematurely halted), in which guards and informant prisoners were tortured and murdered during the prisoners' escape attempt. This film is a sensitive study into power relationships within an altered reality and is masterfully crafted to build tension and invite the viewer to question the character's morality and ethical codes. Far more relevant and interesting than the bland reality TV shows we are plagued by these days…highly recommended!