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The Experiment (2001)

Das Experiment (original title)
1:45 | Trailer
For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence.


(novel), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
4,879 ( 104)
14 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tarek Fahd - Häftling Nr. 77 / Prisoner #77
Robert Steinhoff Nr. 38
Günther Schütte Nr. 82
Joe Maier Nr. 69
Stephan Szasz ...
Häftling Nr. 53
Polat Dal ...
Häftling Nr. 40
Häftling Nr. 21
Ralf Müller ...
Häftling Nr. 15
Markus Rudolf ...
Häftling Nr. 74
Peter Fieseler ...
Häftling Nr. 11
Thorsten Dersch ...
Häftling Nr. 86 (as Thorsten J.H. Dersch)
Sven Grefer ...
Häftling Nr. 94
Justus von Dohnányi ...
Berus - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard (as Justus von Dohnànyi)
Nicki von Tempelhoff ...
Kamps - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard
Timo Dierkes ...
Eckert - Strafvollzugsbeamter / Guard


The movie is based on the infamous "Stanford Prison Experiment" conducted in 1971. A makeshift prison is set up in a research lab, complete with cells, bars and surveillance cameras. For two weeks 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards. The 'prisoners' are locked up and have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the 'guards' are told simply to retain order without using physical violence. Everybody is free to quit at any time, thereby forfeiting payment. In the beginning the mood between both groups is insecure and rather emphatic. But soon quarrels arise and the wardens employ ever more drastic sanctions to confirm their authority. Written by <armin@sfb288.math.tu-berlin.de>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, disturbing situations, language, sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

8 March 2001 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Experiment  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$19,857 (USA) (20 September 2002)


$141,072 (USA) (25 October 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(DVD) | (cut) | (uncut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


(at around 15 mins) Oliver Stokowski (Schütte) is actually claustrophobic. In an early scene where the prisoners are crammed into the elevator, a hint of his genuine uneasiness is visible. See more »


(at around 20 mins) Tarek took one of the prisoner's milk bottles with his left hand, then he's holding it in right hand. While giving back the milk bottle, it's in his left again. See more »


[first lines]
Tarek Fahd, Häftling Nr. 77: [voiceover, reading newspaper ad] Test subjects wanted. Earn 4000 marks for a 14-day experiment in a simulated prison.
See more »


Version of The Experiment (2010) See more »


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User Reviews

One of the Best and Most Powerful Movies of the Year
18 June 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

In Germany, a group of men is invited to participate in an experience promoted by the Army. They would receive DM 4,000.00 for fourteen days performing the roles of guards and prisoners in a prison, under certain predetermined rules and monitored by a team of doctors. A journalist infiltrates in the team looking for a great matter. However, problems happen and the experience looses control, jeopardizing the integrity and the safety of the prisoners.

This movie is amazing: just released on DVD in Brazil, it is certainly one of the best films of the year. Tense, powerful, having a wonderful screenplay and outstanding direction and performances, it is another great example of how the absolute power corrupts. All the cast is magnificent, but I would like to highlight the role and the acting of Justus Von Dohnanyi, as the sadistic Berus. A must-see movie, which will certainly provoke a reaction of the viewer! It is almost impossible not to make a comparison of the situation presented in this film with the abuse and humiliation of the prisoners of Iraq recently showed on TV and newspapers. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): 'A Experiência' ('The Experience')

94 of 120 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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I hope they make an american remake asti223
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