For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.
The movie is based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For two weeks 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards. The 'prisoners' are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the 'guards' are told simply to retain order without using physical violence. Everybody is free to quit at any time, thereby forfeiting payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and rather emphatic. But soon quarrels arise and the wardens employ ever more drastic sanctions to confirm their authority.Written by
The first cinema version had an insert in the beginning of the movie which stated "This is based on the Stanford Prison Experiment". Since Prof. Philip Zimbardo wasn't asked by the filmmakers - and the movie doesn't really show the true experiment, but an exaggeration, the insert was changed to say "This movie is based on the novel Black Box" See more »
This is an overwhelming film. I have not been so affected - physically - since I was run over by "Terminator 2" ten years ago.
If you have any claustrophobic tendencies or if you find it hard to endure situations of powerlessness, this film will be a total nightmare for you. But I urge you to see it anyway...
The acting is superb and the directing is moderate and intelligent. As a result, the potentially predictable story becomes very unpredictable. Its surprise effects are not sudden. You get plenty of time to realize what is about to happen (and how little you or anybody else can do about it...).
At one time, despite being almost completely absorbed by the suspense, I was able to look away from the screen and notice that I was sitting in a movie theater, at a safe distance from the experiment. Thank God!
My grade: 10 out of 10!
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