Based on a real test held at Stanford Prison in 1971, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Das Experiment sees 20 volunteers placed in a 14-day research trial under 24-hour surveillance. Twelve of the men are given the role of prisoners, whilst the other eight are their guards. The prisoners are assigned three to a cell and forced to wear thin gowns, flimsy flip-flops and no underwear, whilst the guards have only one job: to ensure the prisoners obey the rules without resorting to violence. Among the prisoners is taxi driver Tarek (Run Lola Run’s Moritz Bleibtreu), a former reporter whose desperation for a story could lead to him pushing things a step too far.
Predictably, not all goes to plan, and the film remains engrossing with the fascination at how far the test will go, how far out of control it will become and what those involved will resort to. At times quite violent, the film’s strength lies in the relationship between the three groups – prisoners, guards and scientists – and in the frantic style of the more action-filled scenes. Rather more naked men than I was expecting though.
Choose film 7/10