The Stanford prison experiment

The Stanford prison experiment is based a real experiment that was conducted in August 1971 at Stanford University, California. Psychology professor Philip Zimbardo’s aim was to prove that the traits of prisoners and guards were the main causes of abuse of power in prisons. Zimbardo’s team selected twenty-four young students from good middle class upbringing with no criminal or mental health history. Twelve participants were picked to be prisoners, and twelve to be guards. They were paid fifteen dollars a day. (A lot of money in 1971) Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) was surprise by what he witnessed. Although the guards showed no previous abusive tendencies, some showed cruel and sadistic behaviors towards the prisoners. Mind games were played on the prisoners, to the point that they thought this was a real prison and that they would never get out. Some of them became hysterical and others rebelled. Even Zimbardo himself became so absorbed that he also acted like it was really a prison. The Stanford prison experiment is a re-creation of what transpired with actors playing the participants and the staff. From what I can tell from archival films, the film is mostly accurate about the events. Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez has put together one of the strongest ensemble cast of mostly young new faces. Beside Crudup, there are some standouts. Ezra Miller is Prisoner 8612, who is becoming increasingly intense and distraught. As he’s shown previously, Miller is one of the best actor of his generation and he makes 8612 the character with which we can most identify. Then there is Michael Angarano who plays the most sadistic guard. Nicknamed “John Wayne” by the prisoners, he takes charge of the jails and the prisoners from the minutes he gets there. Angarano’s assured bravado performance is impressive as is the whole cast. Because of that and it’s topic this a worthy independent film.

Rémi-Serge Gratton

The Stanford prison experiment

Directed by:
Kyle Patrick Alvarez

Screenplay by:
Tim Talbott

Starring:
Billy Crudup
Logan Miller
Ezra Miller
Nelsan Ellis
Tye Sheridan
Michael Angarano
Olivia Thirlby
James Wolk
James Frecheville
Johnny Simmons
Ki Hong Lee
Matt Bennett
Matt Bennett
Nicholas Braun
Brett Davern
Jesse Carere
Thomas Mann

122 min.

Rated14A

 

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