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Das Experiment
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Experiment More at IMDbPro »Das Experiment (original title)

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102 out of 107 people found the following review useful:

A Fascinating and Disturbing Film

Author: Remmy Wamweri (wamweri@gmail.com) from Oxford, England
6 December 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!

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104 out of 123 people found the following review useful:

Zee Germans

9/10
Author: frankwhat from Lakewood, NJ
29 November 2004

This was a surprisingly intense film that I'm so glad I watched. The concept was great and this was even before I found out it was based on a true story. But once I heard that it makes me want to look into it a lot more and see what differed from actual life and such. Supposedly the movie was pretty accurate though. It's amazing that good foreign films blow the socks off of most Hollywood garbage any day of the week. They're more realistic and the characters act more like real people would in day to day situations. The love story in this might've been the only thing that I think could've been done better since it became a little weird here and there. Other than that the suspense kept me going and the thought that this could happen to anyone is really scary to ponder. I'm pretty sure I'd like to see this made into an American version only because I'm quite positive they'd butcher it and wouldn't contain anything near the desired effect as has usually been the case in the past. It was kept simple and because of that...it worked! The acting was great all around as it really was a job well done.

Final Import:

Movies: Not a possibility here in the U.S.

DVD Purchase: Worth looking into.

Rental: A wise choice my friend!

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94 out of 120 people found the following review useful:

One of the Best and Most Powerful Movies of the Year

10/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
18 June 2004

In Germany, a group of men is invited to participate in an experience promoted by the Army. They would receive DM 4,000.00 for fourteen days performing the roles of guards and prisoners in a prison, under certain predetermined rules and monitored by a team of doctors. A journalist infiltrates in the team looking for a great matter. However, problems happen and the experience looses control, jeopardizing the integrity and the safety of the prisoners.

This movie is amazing: just released on DVD in Brazil, it is certainly one of the best films of the year. Tense, powerful, having a wonderful screenplay and outstanding direction and performances, it is another great example of how the absolute power corrupts. All the cast is magnificent, but I would like to highlight the role and the acting of Justus Von Dohnanyi, as the sadistic Berus. A must-see movie, which will certainly provoke a reaction of the viewer! It is almost impossible not to make a comparison of the situation presented in this film with the abuse and humiliation of the prisoners of Iraq recently showed on TV and newspapers. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): 'A Experiência' ('The Experience')

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72 out of 84 people found the following review useful:

Compelling thriller that disturbs as much as it entertains.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
15 August 2003

I was initially a bit dubious about 'Das Experiment', thinking it looked like it was going to be lame, but within half an hour I was hooked. It isn't the greatest movie ever made, the most technically dazzling, or the most insightful into the human condition, but as a thriller it is first class, and far better than any I've seen come out of Hollywood for years. The movie in inspired by an experiment conducted in America in the early 1970s. 'Das Experiment' isn't a documentary it is after all but a thriller, so the outcome is more sensational than in real life. But I think people may be shocked when they read about the real experiment, as they will see that the basic pattern of what happens in the movie happened in reality. And if people are still skeptical I just suggest they look into their heart and ask themselves honestly what they would do in a similar situation... The cast are all terrific. The only actor I recognized was the star Moritz Bleibtreu, from 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' and 'Run Lola Run', but it really is an ensemble piece and all the actors were well cast and convincing. I highly recommend this movie and just hope that Hollywood doesn't decide to remake it because I'm sure it'll be another 'Insomnia' farce all over again...

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61 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

Too true to life

Author: Rehaber from Madison, WI
5 June 2004

I saw this film recently on the Sundance Channel. I could not stop watching. After seeing the prison pictures from Iraq, the film fully explored the reasons for the abuse of prisoners. When I read some of the reviews posted, I noticed how many dismissed the film as contrived and not plausible. I wonder if any of those reviewers would like to modify their dismissal of Das Experiment. Human behavior under stress often declines to the lowest common instinct. It reminded me of an adult Lord of the Flies. Degradation and humiliation seems to exactly follow what happened in Iraq. As a veteran who spent most of time working on Military Mental wards, I witnessed a number of abuses, as force had to be used patients were acting out or lost control, but all those memories seem pale compared to the horrors of the Iraq prison camps. Since life imitates art, this makes the film even more profound.

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49 out of 60 people found the following review useful:

It could be you!...

10/10
Author: (catdcd) from Greece
30 June 2002

When I went to see the movie. I thought:"Oh, well, I wouldn't be caught losing my temper there. I'd just be there to get the money and I wouldn't care about anything more". What the movie did in a brilliant way was to show you that it COULD be you. As time passed, I was looking at my watch. And that was because I had become one of the prisoners. The end of the movie would mean the end of their torture-the end of the experiment. Near the end, I caught myself thinking "Kill him!Kill him!"And I'm a calm person, you know. It's very surprising and also frightening to realise that all people are the same. When they feel threatened, they tend to make groups to protect themselves, like animals. And they can get very violent, too...

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50 out of 66 people found the following review useful:

A true experience

9/10
Author: TheOtherFool from The Netherlands
10 May 2004

Now this is the kind of movie Hollywood should make!

Movie about an experiment gone all out of hand, with 20 men posing to be guards and prisoners for a period of 2 weeks. We follow the events mainly through the eyes of reporter/taxidriver Tarek, a 'prisoner', who thinks there's a good story to tell.

But things go all wrong when the guards really feel like they're God and things only get worse from that moment on. There's an amazing scene with Tarek in a 'black box', that scene is as scary as I have ever seen on screen.

Surely a movie you won't forget too soon. Terrifying, exciting, horrific, brilliant!

9/10.

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37 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Interesting, involving and exciting – made more interesting with revelations involving the US troops in Iraqi prisons

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
23 August 2004

Taxi driver and freelance journalist Tarek Fahd spots an advert in a newspaper for volunteers to take part in a psychological experiment over two weeks. He arrives along with a group of others, to be divided up into prisoners and guards before being placed into a simulated prison and provided with rules, Tarek being prisoner number 77. Initially everyone is enjoying themselves but soon the guards tire of the prisoners taking the p*ss and decide it is time to clamp down on their behaviour. As they realize that they have no limit on their powers, the actions of the guards become increasingly brutal and uncaring.

Based on the infamous experiments carried out at Stanford in the 1970's, this film had it all going for it in terms of being an effective thriller while also looking at the ways that human nature will gravitate towards the cruel once they are placed in positions of power. I decided to watch this film because it seemed interesting on this basis but also very topical considering the behaviour of the US soldiers in the Iraq prisons – mostly poor 'white trash' types who were corrupted when they suddenly found themselves in a position they had never been in before – control. Like them, the characters here gradually get more extreme – just like they did in the real experiment as well. With this topicality it is no surprise that I was easily taken in by the film and was never really bored by it. Being a thriller in its own right, the film has to settle into the eventual action conclusion but even this works pretty well and doesn't detract from what has gone before in terms of interest.

This is not to say it is perfect, because it could have been much better than it was. The constant cutting to Tarek's girlfriend now and in flashback only took away from the film and she could have still played her part at the end with much less time during the main body of the film. Also it became a little too far-fetched for the sake of drama – a recent television drama in the UK did it differently by actually recreating the same experiment as opposed to this film which needed to go harder and faster in order to reach the eventual running and fighting stage! But it still works and, to be honest, it is well worth seeking out for the 'human nature' aspect alone – it had a special resonance in Germany but it is hard not to be put in a thoughtful mood given recent events in Iraqi military prisons.

The cast are roundly good and all slip one way or the other in a convincing manner. Beibtreu is good once he gets past the stage where he is making trouble for the sake of it – this is necessary to speed the descent into cruelty but it was laid on a bit thick at the start. After this his performance is much more evenly balanced and he is a good lead. I struggled to pick up the names of all the others because they were mostly unknown to me but the head guard was very good while the rest of the cast did more than just deliver their pigeon-holed characters, where really they could have been nothing more than 'prisoner who goes crazy', 'timid guard', 'angry guard', 'silent prisoner' etc – they weren't, they were all pretty real people.

Overall this is not the best thing to come to if you are after a sort of documentary drama about the original experiment but it is still a very good film. It is exciting and dramatic while still having a bit of a brain on it – an asset made more interesting by what we have seen in Iraq over the past few months with guards becoming even worse than those we see in this film! Not a perfect film but a well made one that is interesting, involving and exciting and one that is well worth looking up.

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38 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Germans do it better than Americans!

8/10
Author: Marco88 from Italy
17 September 2006

"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.

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29 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Probably one of the best films ever made, an experiment itself!

10/10
Author: Exiled_Archangel from Istanbul, Turkey
26 March 2003

Das Experiment is a masterpiece with flawless acting. It keeps the viewer attached to the screen throughout. It's probably the only movie ever made that has 90% of it taking place in a prison, but is still a great watch. Ok maybe Shawshank Redemption is another, but this one is at least as good as that one if not better. Violence does occur, however, people don't end up shooting everything that walks as in American films. It has a realistic side, psychological balance is really tender as screened on this movie. I found myself captured watching the movie, and I realized I was feeding a strong hatred against the guardians. Very very successful shot! I recommend it to everyone for sure, but especially those who are interested in the science of psychology, as the film is not solely ABOUT an experiment, but it turns out to BE a psychological experiment itself. I'm out of words... Go watch it, and please shoot me if you don't enjoy it. A well-deserved 10/10 from me.

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