The Experiment

The 2010 US movie is a remake of a 2001 German flick called “Das Experiment”.  Both movies were based on the “Stanford Prison Experiment” which was conducted in 1971. The basic gist of the plot is that 26 normal human beings, strangers to each other are picked for a psychological experiment. They are randomly divided into prisoners and prison guards. Kept in a place that simulates a prison. They are monitored with cameras and the guards are given a set of instructions that they have to ensure the prisoners follow. The time period of the said experiment is 2 weeks, but it gets over on the 6th day due to prisoners revolting against violence and torture used by the guards.

What makes the movie worth watching is the fact that this experiment really happened and it is not a work of fiction. The experiment is a study of human psyche and how group behaviour is embedded in the human system. The tagline “Everyone has a breaking point” is apt. The seemingly mild-mannered people, when given the authority and power of a guard started showing sadist tendencies. Humiliating the prisoners, taking sexual advantage, mental and physical torture became a norm.

Authority and power it seems suddenly corrupts men and creates monsters. Recently police men in UP have been described fiends in Khakhi and their actions further strengthen this notion. They misuse the power they have and seem to care for no one.

Torture of prisoners by US military in Iraq is a known fact. Even the photographs have been leaked to the world.  What is it about this uniform that inspires courage, awe and admiration but sometimes can do the exact opposite?

In the movie and as in the actual experiment, the experiment is terminated and the volunteers are set free, when the prisoners finally revolt. But one of the prisoners asks his fellow mate a question in the end. He asks, “Do you still believe we are higher up in the evolution ladder than the monkeys?”

My question to my readers is the same. Do You really believe we are higher up in the evolution ladder?

4 Responses to “The Experiment”
  1. Purba says:

    We are constantly discovering new facets to ourselves and behave in unexpected ways under duress.

  2. Mayur says:

    I must watch the movie. I can answer your question only after that.

    PS: Very well written post. I like the clarity of thought. Excellent.

    • Prateek says:

      Thanks. Do watch the movie. Will be waiting to hear your reply to the question.

      P.S. The movie was never released on theatre. It is a direct to video. So you will have to dowload it or buy a DVD if available in India.

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