Monday, August 2, 2010

Das Experiment [The Experiment]

Das Experiment is a German film that fictionalizes (but has the standard disclaimer that the film was not based upon real events or people) the Zimbardo Prison Study.  The film focuses upon on subject in the film (Number 77) going from his seeing the newspaper ad for the research study, the preliminary testing, the entrance into the simulation, and the subsequent events (most of which we've all read about or even seen). 

Because the film is fictionalized, they've been able to add a love story and added some events that did not occur in the original (such as the love story and computerized surveillance of the prisoners.  In addition to many elements of social cognition, bigotry, social isolation, conformity, obedience, intentional disobedience, role playing, and other overt and subtle psychological principles, they've added some ethical issues that Zimbardo did not face.  Without spoiling anything, the primary antagonist plays the sadistic guard with particular glee.
Because of the language, nudity and sexuality, it is unlikely that any of us could/would use the film in our classes, it is an excellent one for us to view.  There are some wonderful dynamics among the prisoners and among the guards and between the two groups that those of us in psych would appreciate more than the lay person.

The trailer of the film can be seen here.  For those of you on Netlflix, the film is available on both DVD and via streaming.

Posted by Chuck Schallhorn

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