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The Experiment (2001)
"Das Experiment" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  8 March 2001 (Germany)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 74,786 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 172 user | 107 critic | 19 from Metacritic.com

For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.


(novel), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tarek Fahd - Häftling Nr. 77 / Prisoner #77
Robert Steinhoff Nr. 38
Oliver Stokowski ...
Günther Schütte Nr. 82
Wotan Wilke Möhring ...
Joe Maier Nr. 69
Stephan Szasz ...
Häftling Nr. 53
Polat Dal ...
Häftling Nr. 40
Häftling Nr. 21
Ralf Müller ...
Häftling Nr. 15
Markus Rudolf ...
Häftling Nr. 74
Peter Fieseler ...
Häftling Nr. 11
Thorsten Dersch ...
Häftling Nr. 86 (as Thorsten J.H. Dersch)
Sven Grefer ...
Häftling Nr. 94
Justus von Dohnányi ...
Berus - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard (as Justus von Dohnànyi)
Nicki von Tempelhoff ...
Kamps - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard
Timo Dierkes ...
Eckert - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard


The movie is based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For two weeks 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards. The 'prisoners' are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the 'guards' are told simply to retain order without using physical violence. Everybody is free to quit at any time, thereby forfeiting payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and rather emphatic. But soon quarrels arise and the wardens employ ever more drastic sanctions to confirm their authority. Written by <armin@sfb288.math.tu-berlin.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They never imagined it would go this far. See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, disturbing situations, language, sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

8 March 2001 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Experiment  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$19,857 (USA) (20 September 2002)


$141,072 (USA) (25 October 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(DVD) | (cut) | (uncut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


(at around 15 mins) Oliver Stokowski (Schütte) is actually claustrophobic. In an early scene where the prisoners are crammed into the elevator, a hint of his genuine uneasiness is visible. See more »


Tarek's eyeglasses continually disappear and reappear without any apparent reason. See more »


[first lines]
Tarek Fahd, Häftling Nr. 77: [voiceover, reading newspaper ad] Test subjects wanted. Earn 4000 marks for a 14-day experiment in a simulated prison.
See more »


References Alien (1979) See more »


Wann fangt denn endlich d'Musi an
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Montana
See more »

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User Reviews

Germans do it better than Americans!
17 September 2006 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

"The Experiment" is a kind of movie you won't forget easily. It is an amazing spiral of fear, horror and anguish.

A taxi driver decides to be an human guinea-pig for a strange experiment. Twenty men. Two groups. Guards vs. thieves. The prize is money. Every man will have money.

After two days something gets wrong. The taxi driver, who is a reporter too, wants to face the guards. So he provokes the guards: they can't use violence against the prisoners...

After more days the situation becomes more extreme. The guards want to impose their dominion on the prisoners. And now the situation is out of control...

The script isn't really original, but it's been developed in a satisfaction way. The direction is dynamic. If the Americans do movies like Germans, we'll have more interesting products.

38 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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