7.8/10
77,813
171 user 107 critic

The Experiment (2001)

Das Experiment (original title)
Trailer
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.

Writers:

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Wave (2008)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A high school teacher's experiment to demonstrate to his students what life is like under a dictatorship spins horribly out of control when he forms a social unit with a life of its own.

Director: Dennis Gansel
Stars: Frederick Lau, Max Riemelt, Jennifer Ulrich
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.

Director: Paul Scheuring
Stars: Adrien Brody, Cam Gigandet, Forest Whitaker
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In 1990, to protect his fragile mother from a fatal shock after a long coma, a young man must keep her from learning that her beloved nation of East Germany as she knew it has disappeared.

Director: Wolfgang Becker
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Katrin Saß, Chulpan Khamatova
Run Lola Run (1998)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Director: Tom Tykwer
Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup
Action | Biography | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A look at Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s.

Director: Uli Edel
Stars: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek
Soul Kitchen (2009)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

In Hamburg, German-Greek chef Zinos unknowingly disturbs the peace in his locals-only restaurant by hiring a more talented chef.

Director: Fatih Akin
Stars: Adam Bousdoukos, Moritz Bleibtreu, Pheline Roggan
The Edukators (2004)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Three activists cobble together a kidnapping plot after they encounter a businessman in his home.

Director: Hans Weingartner
Stars: Daniel Brühl, Julia Jentsch, Stipe Erceg
In July (2000)
Adventure | Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Can Daniel follow the sun from Hamburg to the Bosporus by Friday to meet his love?

Director: Fatih Akin
Stars: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christiane Paul, Mehmet Kurtulus
Head-On (2004)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In 'Gegen die Wand' Cahit, a 40-something male from Mersin in Turkey has removed everything Turkish from his life. He has become an alcoholic drug addict and at the start of the movie wants... See full summary »

Director: Fatih Akin
Stars: Birol Ünel, Sibel Kekilli, Güven Kiraç
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A dramatization of the final days of Sophie Scholl, one of the most famous members of the German World War II anti-Nazi resistance movement, The White Rose.

Director: Marc Rothemund
Stars: Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Alexander Held
Crime | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, born with a superior olfactory sense, creates the world's finest perfume. His work, however, takes a dark turn as he searches for the ultimate scent.

Director: Tom Tykwer
Stars: Ben Whishaw, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Rickman
Cell 211 (2009)
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot -- the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal.

Director: Daniel Monzón
Stars: Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann, Antonio Resines
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Tarek Fahd - Häftling Nr. 77 / Prisoner #77
...
Robert Steinhoff Nr. 38
Oliver Stokowski ...
Günther Schütte Nr. 82
Wotan Wilke Möhring ...
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
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

20 Männer. Zwei Gruppen. Eine Erfahrung, die du nie vergisst. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

8 March 2001 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Experiment  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

$141,072 (USA) (25 October 2002)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD) | (cut) | (uncut)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Christian Berkel originally auditioned for the part of Schütte but was then cast as Steinhoff. See more »

Goofs

At the end of the movie the Elvis Presley imitator gets knocked down and attached to a prison cell with handcuffs. But after that he suddenly is on the loose. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Remade as The Experiment (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

One Step Closer
Chester Bennington / Rob Bourdon / Brad Delson / Joseph Hahn / Mike Shinoda
Linkin Park
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung der
Zomba Enterprises Inc. / Zomba Songs Inc. / Rob Bourdon Music
Nondisclosure Agreement Music/Big Bad Mr.Hahn Music / Kenji Kobayashi Music
(all adm. by Zomba Songs Inc.) und der Wea Records, ein Geschaftsbereich
von Warner Music Germany GmbH
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Interesting, involving and exciting – made more interesting with revelations involving the US troops in Iraqi prisons
23 August 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Taxi driver and freelance journalist Tarek Fahd spots an advert in a newspaper for volunteers to take part in a psychological experiment over two weeks. He arrives along with a group of others, to be divided up into prisoners and guards before being placed into a simulated prison and provided with rules, Tarek being prisoner number 77. Initially everyone is enjoying themselves but soon the guards tire of the prisoners taking the p*ss and decide it is time to clamp down on their behaviour. As they realize that they have no limit on their powers, the actions of the guards become increasingly brutal and uncaring.

Based on the infamous experiments carried out at Stanford in the 1970's, this film had it all going for it in terms of being an effective thriller while also looking at the ways that human nature will gravitate towards the cruel once they are placed in positions of power. I decided to watch this film because it seemed interesting on this basis but also very topical considering the behaviour of the US soldiers in the Iraq prisons – mostly poor 'white trash' types who were corrupted when they suddenly found themselves in a position they had never been in before – control. Like them, the characters here gradually get more extreme – just like they did in the real experiment as well. With this topicality it is no surprise that I was easily taken in by the film and was never really bored by it. Being a thriller in its own right, the film has to settle into the eventual action conclusion but even this works pretty well and doesn't detract from what has gone before in terms of interest.

This is not to say it is perfect, because it could have been much better than it was. The constant cutting to Tarek's girlfriend now and in flashback only took away from the film and she could have still played her part at the end with much less time during the main body of the film. Also it became a little too far-fetched for the sake of drama – a recent television drama in the UK did it differently by actually recreating the same experiment as opposed to this film which needed to go harder and faster in order to reach the eventual running and fighting stage! But it still works and, to be honest, it is well worth seeking out for the 'human nature' aspect alone – it had a special resonance in Germany but it is hard not to be put in a thoughtful mood given recent events in Iraqi military prisons.

The cast are roundly good and all slip one way or the other in a convincing manner. Beibtreu is good once he gets past the stage where he is making trouble for the sake of it – this is necessary to speed the descent into cruelty but it was laid on a bit thick at the start. After this his performance is much more evenly balanced and he is a good lead. I struggled to pick up the names of all the others because they were mostly unknown to me but the head guard was very good while the rest of the cast did more than just deliver their pigeon-holed characters, where really they could have been nothing more than 'prisoner who goes crazy', 'timid guard', 'angry guard', 'silent prisoner' etc – they weren't, they were all pretty real people.

Overall this is not the best thing to come to if you are after a sort of documentary drama about the original experiment but it is still a very good film. It is exciting and dramatic while still having a bit of a brain on it – an asset made more interesting by what we have seen in Iraq over the past few months with guards becoming even worse than those we see in this film! Not a perfect film but a well made one that is interesting, involving and exciting and one that is well worth looking up.


37 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I hope they make an american remake asti223
I couldn't belive it how angry made me at some point! nonearfear
Totally implausible luau_foot
Similar films? rory-g
Subtitles or english thekeeperscages
Spanish movie with experiment... Please help! gerbenrog
Discuss The Experiment (2001) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?