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The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

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Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Philip Zimbardo
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Christopher Archer
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Anthony Carroll
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Karl Vandy
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Paul Vogel
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John Lovett
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Gavin Lee / 3401
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Prisoner 416
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Daniel Culp / 8612
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Jerry Sherman / 5486
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Peter Mitchell / 819
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Jeff Jansen / 1037
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Mike Penny
...
Jesse Fletcher
...
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Storyline

Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They were given 2 weeks. It lasted 6 days.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language including abusive behavior and some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

17 July 2015 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Untitled Stanford Prison Experiment Project  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$37,514 (USA) (17 July 2015)

Gross:

$643,557 (USA) (18 September 2015)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ezra Miller, Nicholas Braun, and Johnny Simmons were all in The Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012). See more »

Goofs

When the principal investigator of the experiment speaks with his colleague, the colleague says that he will see him at the beginning of the semester. Stanford does not have semesters; rather, it has a quarter academic calendar. See more »

Quotes

Peter Mitchell: Blow it out your ass, Mr. Correctional Officer!
See more »

Connections

References Cool Hand Luke (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Chillingly bad science
29 May 2016 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

This film is a dramatization of a real psychological experiment that took place at the Stanford University in 1971. The motivation was to study the dynamics of individuals who were arbitrarily placed into roles as prisoners and guards at a simulated prison. Since none of the study participants were actual criminals or correction officers, the idea was to glean insight into the psychology of the power imbalance that arises from the situation, as opposed to the people involved.

Things famously degraded quickly and the experiment was terminated after only six days. Multiple guards displayed sadistic traits and performed acts of psychological and even (to a smaller degree) physical torture, all overseen, permitted, and arguably encouraged by "superintendent" Philip Zimbardo, the study's creator.

The conditions the participants were exposed to were reprehensible, but even worse is that ultimately this was simply bad science, making the whole endeavor a cruel waste of time. The experiment lacked much of the basic rigor required, as highlighted in the film by a verbatim repetition of an actual conversation Mr. Zimbardo had with a colleague who questioned some of the basic scientific methodologies being utilized in the study.

Zimbardo himself committed what I would consider borderline criminal acts such as initially denying "prisoner" participants the option to leave when requested (to instill in them the belief that their situation was, in fact, real), which came frighteningly close to converting the "study" into a criminal act of kidnapping in my opinion.

Zimbardo explains this as him getting "to close" to the experiment, but personally I'm not particularly sympathetic to that argument. When you watch the actual clips from the study and read the notes, I'm more inclined to think that Mr. Zambardo himself had a sadistic streak that he failed to control for a time. Honestly, I think the man should have faced criminal charges for his role in this fiasco.

In the end, some good did come out of this experiment in that it created a push for establishing standards and controls for psychological experiments in the future.

Despite knowing the actual outcome, I still felt anxious about the fates of the young men involved, a testament to the power of the acting and directing here. To me, this movie is a chilling and visceral reminder of how easy it is to create conditions that foster cruelty and dehumanization. A rewarding, if somewhat depressing, film to watch.


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Why wasn't Stanford sued into oblivion for this? gilwood
How would this experiment work outside the U.S.? Mamabadger56
Is this movie worth seeing just for Olivia Thirlby? eyeforbeauty
So how do you think you would cope in this situation? pearlimaew
Rip Off of a German Film palmacci
Wow, what a masterpiece!!! mirogster
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