Das Experiment is a film loosely based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971 with the aim of studying the psychological effects of prison life. The film centres on Tarek, a young Taxi driver who responds to an ad in a newspaper asking for volunteers for a psychological experiment. Tarek and nineteen other volunteers are assigned the roles of guards and prisoners and then placed in a makeshift prison, set up within a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. 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. Tarek finds himself amongst the prisoners and for a brief while everything seems to be proceeding well enough until the guards begin to take their roles somewhat too seriously, becoming increasingly brutal in their treatment of the prisoners till the situation rapidly spirals out of control. The film aims to look at the experience the affects of being given power over others and how this can lead to a breakdown of 'morals' and 'civilization' if not kept in check. Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) goes a great job as Tarek making him a believable character with a strong presence that makes him ideally suited to the role. The Director, Hirschbiegel creates a suspenseful, claustrophobic and atmospheric mood and picked up the award for Best Director at the Montreal Film Festival. Be warned though, it's a disturbing affair and not a film for the faint hearted, but its yet thought provoking nature with parallels in Lord of the Flies and the Nazi regime of World War II makes it highly recommended.
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