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The Stanford prison experiment (1971)

Related: 1971 - authority - experimental - Milgram experiment - prison - psychology - sadism - sociology

The Stanford prison experiment (1971)

The Stanford prison experiment was a landmark psychological study of the human response to captivity, in particular, to the real world circumstances of prison life. It was conducted in 1971 by a team of researchers led by Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University. Volunteers played the roles of guard and prisoner, and lived in a mock prison. However, the experiment quickly got out of hand, and was ended early.

It was a variation of the Milgram experiment, which was conducted in 1963 by Zimbardo's former high school friend, Stanley Milgram at Yale University.

The experiment very quickly got out of hand. Prisoners suffered and accepted sadistic and humiliating treatment at the hands of the guards, and by the end many showed severe emotional disturbance. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_Prison_Experiment [Apr 2005]

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The Experiment (2001) - Oliver Hirschbiegel

The Experiment (2001) - Oliver Hirschbiegel [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Inspired by a famous 1971 psychological experiment, Oliver Hirschbiegel's German-language movie The Experiment finds a group of 20 volunteers randomly divided into 12 prisoners and eight guards and asked to play out their roles for a fortnight while scientists study their reactions. A conflict arises between undercover reporter Fahd (Moritz Bleibtreu), a con with a hidden agenda, and the apparently mild-mannered Berus (Justus von Dohnanyi), a guard with a megalomaniac streak. The film begins as a psychological drama as ordinary people settle into the game, with joking displays of resistance by the "prisoners" greeted with increasing brutality from the "guards," but detours into suspense and horror as Fahd, who needs the experiment to get out of hand in order to make his story more saleable, deliberately ratchets up the tension between the factions only to see the situation spiral nightmarishly out of control as various test subjects in both camps edge closer to snapping.

With a terrific display of ensemble acting and unforced use of the popular claustrophobic semi-documentary look, Hirschbiegel's movie takes its time to get underway, with apparently irrelevant cutaways to Fahd's outside girlfriend (Maren Eggert), but works up to a powerful second half that delivers a sustained symphony of psychological and physical anguish. --Kim Newman for Amazon.com

Das Experiment ("The Experiment" in the US) is a 2001 German movie inspired by the events of the Stanford prison experiment in the United States. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Das_Experiment [Dec 2005]

See also: German cinema - Stanford prison experiment - 2001

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