Das Experiment, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, translated The Experiment, is a movie I have no idea how I came across. The plot sounded very interesting and I read online that the movie had won a plethora of awards. Awards like best screenplay, best director, best cinematography, best actor, and so on. So I figured why not give it a try, right? I'm glad I did because Das Experiment is a very well made, well written, well acted, and well directed movie that I would recommended to anyone who is into dramas/thrillers with dark subject matters. It's a psychologically-twisted film with a slow and methodical pace and one that rewards the viewer for sticking with it all the way to the end. Das Experiment is based on the Stanford Prison Experiment. An experiment where fourteen men occupy a makeshift prison for fourteen days. Half the volunteers are split into 'guards', and the other half split into 'prisoners'. Their task, simply, is to maintain peace and order within the prison while following a basic set of guidelines. Things of course go horribly wrong and a power struggle begins between the prisoners, the guards, and the scientists.
The main character of this film is Tarek Fahd (played by Moritz Bleibtreu). Fahd is a cab driver in the streets of Germany. One night he spots an ad in the paper for an experiment, for which he gets 4000 marks if he volunteers and completes. He of course volunteers but Fahd also has an ulterior motive. Using a camera disguised as a pair of glasses Fahd documents the whole experiment on tape to sell as a news story. The day before the experiment, Fahd also meets a woman and starts to develop a thing for her. (These two sub-plots don't really play much into the main story.) Every once in a while the woman Fahd meets is shown looking for him, but nothing really comes from it all. The camera-glasses that Fahd wears serves more as a convention to narrate the story, rather than a whole different sub-plot. Normally, I'd complain how these stories don't go anywhere, but they only make up roughly ten minutes of the movie, so not much time is wasted.
As I mentioned above, Das Experiment has a sort of slow pace; it takes a while for the movie to really get going, and there were points when I felt like turning it off. But when the movie gets going it's hard to take your eyes off the screen. All the characters are portrayed extremely well and the movie gives you real reasons for hating these people. There are points where you side with the guards and there are points where you side with the prisoners. There are even points in the movie where I starting to think that I was one of the prisoners, and I got to thinking what I would do in a situations like this. It's a very absorbing story and it definitely manipulates your emotions.
Now, this is a movie, so obviously real life events are exaggerated. The real Standford Prison Experiment ended after just six days. The prisoners were starting to show signs of pathological behavior and the experiment had to be called off. There are events, however, in this movie that happened in the real life version. The most noteworthy of which is the fire extinguisher scene, which is depraved and humiliating. But I won't get into anymore details about the plot - that would be getting into spoiler territory, and I hate spoilers.
Das Experiment is a pretty good fucking movie, one that I think any self-respecting thriller/drama/horror fan should watch. It's chock-full of memorable moments and memorable characters doing despicable things to each other. It's a dark film with a dark subject matter, and if you have the fortitude for these sorts of things, then I highly recommend it.
Score - 7/10