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

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  8 March 2001 (Germany)
7.8
Your rating:
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 71,508 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 169 user | 106 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.

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Edit

Cast

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
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

You Are Invited To Participate See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 March 2001 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Experiment  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$141,072 (USA) (25 October 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD) | (cut) | (uncut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

(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 »

Goofs

At the end of the movie the Elvis Presley imitator gets knocked down and attached to a prison cell with handcuffs. But after that he suddenly is on the loose. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Does Your Soul Have a Cold? (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Wouldn't It Be Nice
Written by Brian Wilson, Tony Asher and Mike Love
(C) 1966 by Sea of Tunes Publishing Co. Inc., USA
The Beach Boys
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung der
EMI Music Publishing Germany GmbH
und der EMI Electrola GmbH
See more »

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User Reviews

A Fascinating and Disturbing Film
6 December 2004 | by (Oxford, England) – See all my reviews

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!


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