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The Experiment (Das Experiment)

66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Inspired by a famous 1971 psychological experiment, Oliver Hirschbiegel's German-language movie The Experiment finds a group of 20 volunteers randomly divided into 12 prisoners and eight guards and asked to play out their roles for a fortnight while scientists study their reactions. A conflict arises between undercover reporter Fahd (Moritz Bleibtreu), a con with a hidden agenda, and the apparently mild-mannered Berus (Justus von Dohnanyi), a guard with a megalomaniac streak. The film begins as a psychological drama as ordinary people settle into the game, with joking displays of resistance by the "prisoners" greeted with increasing brutality from the "guards," but detours into suspense and horror as Fahd, who needs the experiment to get out of hand in order to make his story more saleable, deliberately ratchets up the tension between the factions only to see the situation spiral nightmarishly out of control as various test subjects in both camps edge closer to snapping.

With a terrific display of ensemble acting and unforced use of the popular claustrophobic semi-documentary look, Hirschbiegel's movie takes its time to get underway, with apparently irrelevant cutaways to Fahd's outside girlfriend (Maren Eggert), but works up to a powerful second half that delivers a sustained symphony of psychological and physical anguish. --Kim Newman

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Stephan Szasz
  • Directors: Oliver Hirschbiegel
  • Writers: Christoph Darnstädt, Don Bohlinger, Mario Giordano
  • Producers: Benjamin Herrmann, Friedrich Wildfeuer, Marc Conrad, Norbert Preuss
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: July 1, 2003
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009AVA8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,968 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Experiment (Das Experiment)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 26, 2002
Recently we have seen many brilliant German films -- such as "Run Lola Run" -- and now, another superb film comes from that country, with the same Moritz Bleibtreu (who was Manni, Lola's love). But this time, the thrilling film "Das Experiment" is excellent for totally different reasons.
A taxi driver Tarek (Bleibtreu) sees an ad on a newspaper that looks very interesting, which read: "Participants Needed. 2 Weeks in a Mock Prison. Reward 4,000 German marks." He decides to apply, is accepted, and goes to a university where this experiment is to be done.
The "experiment" is conducted as follows: 20 participants are divided into to groups, 8 "guards" and 12 "prisoners." The former group were given uniform, handcuffs and other equipments while the latter are required to live in a small cell, wearing only a long white jacket. Though no violence is allowed on both sides, the "guards" set up 6 rules for the "prisoners" to obey. In case of emergency, the professors provide monitoring cameras that relay the images to the controlling room where the supervisors are supposed to watch over every detail of the behaivors of the participants. In this way, the first day starts.
But, as the days pass, the at first peaceful relations between the two groups start to get intensified. Some slight scuffle develops into a bigger and more serious fight and even the uprising of Tarek (now called No. 77), and those "guards" and "prisoners," ordinary people up until then, seriously start to struggle for the power, using unnecessary method of torturing and humiliating prisoners.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Burak Kilic on May 17, 2003
Format: DVD
The film is based on an actual psychological based prison experiment that took place in Stanford laboratories back in 1971. The aim of the experiment, in my view, is to test the limits of a man's self-control and aggression. And, indeed, the resultscome out to be quite interesting, as the participants become the experimenters at some point of the movie.
Moritz Bleibtreu, plays 'Fahd', a taxi-driver, who is an underground journalist, with the mission of catching the excitement during the experiment. We also know Moritz from 'Run Lola Run', which is yet another good german movie. Moritz, seeing the ad on the newspaper, which tells that a big amount of money is to be given to participants in a pyschology experiment, decides that this is 'the' chance. 19 other people, rather ordinary citizens, but with different individual problems, decide to take a part, too. They all seem to take the experiment and the directions easy; however, as days go by, each goes through different problems, which is the exact case the experimenters have intended to create. We see the professor's increasing delight, as the interactions between the prisoners and guardians get more intense and aggressive. As we proceed to day three, money gets vanished from the minds of many. Instead, it is survival, that is at stake this time. In fact, it will be the professor's surprise to see what has happened, when he comes back from his business trip...
Oliver Hirschbiegel has directed the movie excellently, in a perfect sequence of events, that raises tension, excitement, and curiosity in the audience. The cast has been chosen with particular care, the roles are greatly performed by many of the actors and actresses. I think that 'Das Experiment' is one of the top-notch German movies ever made so far. Seeing this movie is not only highly recommended, but even essential.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anna Otto on August 31, 2002
I will always remember this movie for its unflinching gaze at what can happen when good research subjects go bad. Watching this, one quickly forgets that these are actors playing at the "let's pretend we're in prison" game, and the shattering realism of it all is enough to make you squirm, if not scream. Apparently, in Germany, where the movie was watched widely, some viewers ended up throwing up or fainting in horror.
This isn't, of course, your average B-movie horror we're talking about either. The horror is in what people can do to one another, if given enough stimulus and just enough power. Stanford University experiment on which the movie is supposedly based actually was terminated before it escalated as much as the situation in the movie does. So it's all too easy to imagine how the events would have unfolded if somebody wise didn't just say NO. Plenty of characters in Das Experiment probably would have wished it was so.
The movie is very lucid, realistic, and keeps you at the edge of the seat at all times. Bleibtrau who also played Lola's boyfriend in Run Lola Run is an astonishing actor, projecting an image of an average man in an abnormal situation, but also someone who is extraordinary enough to be able to deal with it and survive it. The story of experiment is interwoven with the patches of love affair that he initiates shortly beforehand with a woman who crashes into his car. The movie is contemplative and quiet when it needs to be - frantic when it gains momentum. Great techno music serves as an accompaniment (although I didn't recognize the bands they used).
Another great German flick... I hope they keep'em coming!
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