This movie is a remake of a movie based on a book that was inspired by the real-life Stanford prison experiment. The experiment at Stanford ended early as both the guards and prisoners took their respective roles too seriously. The experiment will never be redone because although it was deemed ethical at the time under the later-amended rules of the American Psychiatric Association any research done must not physically or mentally harm the participants. See more »
After using the fire extinguishers on the prisoners everyone is covered in white powder as if a powder apparatus had been used. The actual extinguishers used are of the CO2 type which is easily identified by the big "funnel" at the end of the hose and would not leave everyone covered in white powder. See more »
This Takes Too Many Liberties In Portraying The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted in 1971 by psychologist Philip Zimbardo. It selected a random group of people and divided them into prison guards and prison inmates and then placed them into a recreated prison on the grounds of Stanford University for two weeks basically to see how they would adjust to their new roles. The experiment was controversial and was aborted after only 6 days and its results and methodology are still considered questionable. "The Experiment" is a sort-of recreation of that experiment, starring Forest Whittaker as one of the pretend guards and Adrien Brody as one of the pretend prisoners.
The movie is extreme in its portrayal of what actually happened. Conditions in the actual experiment were apparently pretty bad (which is why the experiment was aborted early) but this movie exaggerates conditions. I can understand dramatic licence, but if one really wants to learn about the details of the Stanford Prison Experiment, there's a lot of material available, and the movie shouldn't be taken as an accurate depiction.
Having said that, the movie does make a psychological point, I suppose. Whitaker's Barris and Brody's Travis are basically pretty normal seeming guys who get put into situations in which their basic personalities and life experiences are put to the test. Barris is 42 and lives with his mother - a kind of powerless guy who suddenly finds himself leading the "prison guards," while Travis is a "peace-nik" who engages in anti-war rallies and doesn't believe in violence, who ends up as the leader of the inmates responding to the abuse they suffer from the guards. I suppose the point is that our basic personalities and how we react to circumstances are directly dependent on our circumstances. That point was made, but on the whole the movie took too many liberties with the actual experiment and as a result came across as little more than a fake prison movie, rather than as an account of the experiment. (4/10)
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