Stanford prison experiment review

Sundance InStanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo wondered if he could create a college activity more detrimental than majoring poetry. Offering quick money to college students during the summer when the campus was mostly empty a random coin flip determined whether the kids would be prisoners or guards.

Stanford prison experiment review

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Stanford prison experiment review Josh Lasser We all want to believe that we're good people; that we're not capable of cruel, inhuman, acts. But what if that isn't the case? What if we all have the capability for great evil? Ina professor at Stanford found out that just might be the case, and a new film by Kyle Patrick Alvarez offers a look at that experiment.

The whole concept the professor employed sounds pretty simple: The answer is awful things. Over the course of the two-hour film, we get to see the students selected, assigned a role, and then a complete breakdown of acceptable society.

The Stanford Prison Experiment can be a difficult film to watch, not in how graphic it is—there is no blood and only minor physical violence—but simply in its depicting of how quickly average people can abuse their power. Everyone offers a great performance, but so much of the film revolves around the actions, or inaction, of these three.

It is Angarano's guard who leads the abuse of the prisoners, purposefully taking on a role akin to one of the jailers in Cool Hand Luke, and it is who rebels the most and then breaks first.

These scenes between the guards and prisoners are raw and powerful, making audience members squirm in their seats as the prisoners are forced into more and more humiliating actions. While the revolting nature of the guards' abuse never diminishes, the audience's anger soon turns from the guards to the test administrators and, more importantly, the filmmakers.

It feels like a ceaseless attempt to continually up audience's disgust, but in doing so fails to provide insight into the psychology at work amongst any of the groups involved.

The most interesting aspect of the movie does not take place within the confines of the cellblock, but rather amongst Zimbardo and his team members portrayed by James Wolk, Gaius Charles, Matt Bennett, and Nelsan Ellis.

It is the team's reaction to what is taking place, and their influencing or not of what goes on, where the true horror exists. Zimbardo and company apparently push the guards towards cruelty early on, and fail to stop the guards the moment they first cross the line.

Watching the movie one has to wonder what would take place if, at that first moment, the guards are kept in check. Could one guard or one person administering the experiment do something slightly different resulting in a massive change in outcome?

Perhaps it is foolish to expect grand answers from a film, but The Stanford Prison Experiment deeply makes the audience wish for them. Where it falls short is where the actual results of the experiment fall short as well — it is difficult to formulate answers solely based upon what we see.

While it is easy to watch the movie and suggest that we may all have a tendency towards evil, it is impossible to prove. As the movie is presented, the fault may entirely lie with Zimbardo. It may entirely lie with Archer. Wolk's Mike Penny has a chance to step in early on as well but doesn't.

What happens if one of these men does something different? Do the people shown act in malevolent fashion because it's in all our natures to be evil or due to something specific within these three men?

Stanford prison experiment review

As an audience, what we are left with is nothing short of horrifying. Anyone watching the film is going to leave wondering what they might do in the same situation. Would they be one of the guards who follow Archer in his cruelty or would they be leading the charge? Would they have had the wherewithal to stop the proceedings.

It takes Zimbardo's significant other played by Olivia Thirlbyalso a psychologist, offering an outsider's perspective for Zimbardo to realize just what's going on and to find the courage to stop the experiment.

Would we all have the sort of tunnel vision he exhibits in that situation or would we have the ability to separate ourselves from what is taking place and see the larger picture?

Stanford prison experiment review

It is just another question for the audience as they exit the theater. It isn't an easy film to watch, and sometimes runs longer than it should, but it is one that will stay with you for days afterward. If only there were some nice, pat conclusions to draw about the experiment from which we could all take comfort.The appeal of the experiment has a lot to do with its apparently simple setup: prisoners, guards, a fake jail, and some ground rules.

But, in reality, the Stanford County Prison was a heavily. The Stanford Prison Experiment is a frustrating watch.


The guards negatively treat the detainees in ever increasing shocking and dehumanizing ways%. “The Stanford Prison Experiment” is the kind of movie that raises as many questions as it answers. It’s also the kind of film where you want to budget some time for discussion afterward.

You won’t be able to shake this one off easily. The Stanford Prison Experiment is an American film about the true story of a psychological experiemnt conducted at Stanford University in , with a group of young college students selected to play randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a simulated jail for two weeks.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was a social psychology experiment that attempted to investigate the psychological effects of perceived power, focusing on the struggle between prisoners and prison officers.

“The Stanford Prison Experiment” is a movie that follows the real-life experiment in that (more or less) proved this very thing.


It was an experiment that was supposed to observe how people would react if they were put in power or had that power taken away from them.

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