The Experiment – Movie Review

By – Jake Shiner

Sometimes true stories can be inspiring when brought to the big screen, but other times they can highlight mistakes and problems with society. The Experiment did the latter.

A remake of the German film Das Experiment, it tells the true story of a Stanford psychology experiment gone miserably wrong. The test subjects are offered $14,000 to participate in the two week trial. It seems like easy money but there’s a catch, some of the volunteers will lose some of their civil rights for the duration of the experiment. This is because the volunteers will play the roles of guards (Forest Whitaker) and prisoners (Adrien Brody) in a prison like atmosphere.The only rule is no violence or the experiment will be terminated and no one will be paid. Easy enough.

Being a remake of a huge hit, it had a lot to live up to and was unfairly compared to the original. I never viewed the original so I had no bias while coming up with my opinion of the film, and I personally thought the movie was 3 out of 5 stars. Something to rent to watch, but not necessarily to be part of your movie collection.

A great part of the film were the leading actor’s portrayals of their characters. Forest Whitaker had an outstanding performance of a man who became drunk with power. There wasn’t much background information on Whitaker’s character given, but I got the feeling he was someone who had been bullied all his life and now all the power was in his hands. His role is kind of creepy, he seems unstable, and Whitaker pulls it off terrifically. He was very convincing and actually provoked feelings of fear in me for the other inmates.

Brody’s role is that of a recently laid off worker that meets a love interest during a protest. Unfortunately for him, the girl is leaving for a long trip to India and he doesn’t have enough money to join her on her travels. The experiment is the fix. Brody does a terrific job of balancing the traits of a leader, while also being on the brink of losing his mind at some points as the experiment takes a turn for the worse.

The Experiment is a gritty true tale and definitely leaves you wondering if things like this still happen, maybe not in the U.S., but in other countries. The real story is that a Standford psychology professor, Philip Zimbardo, conducted a prison experiment in a Stanford basement in 1971. Zimbardo allowed the guards to abuse the prisoners, all of which is on footage, until he ended the experiment after six days because of the brutality.

The Experiment is a psychological story of how power can make one corrupt, which I believe is a reflection of our society in all forms of government.

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