Fight Club meets “Big Brother” in the punchy German export Das Experiment, the story of 20 dopes who partake in a 14-day mock prison experiment for 4000 Deutsche Marks (roughly $2000) apiece. The film was adapted from Mario Giordano’s novel Black Box, which in turn was based on Phil Zimbardo’s infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. Tarek Fahd (Run Lola Run‘s Moritz Blebtreu) is the part-time taxi driver who uses the experiment to up his cred as a photojournalist. Inside the film’s mock prison facility, Tarek (Prisoner 77) plays God when he purposefully incites his fellow guinea pigs to anger. Despite Professor Thon’s (Edgar Selge) warning that physical harm should not be used as punishment, Berus (Justus Von Dohnanyi, channeling the ghost of Klaus Kinski) and his fellow mock police turn violent two days into the experiment. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel keeps this immoral mechanism running with a series of lazy plot conveniences (Tarek’s new girlfriend, a blind spot in the experiment’s video surveillance, screwy shift changes) rather than focusing on the one-dimensional Thon’s convenient fascination with the progress of his experiment. Indeed, under any other circumstances, this experiment would have ended as soon as a lactose intolerant prisoner is forced to drink a carton of milk. With not so much as a second devoted to the lives of these characters outside the prison walls, their violent trajectories are sketchy at best. This loud, self-important Orwellian exercise purports to be concerned with the many fine lines between fantasy and reality though it succeeds only in celebrating rape (to avoid man-on-man action, the filmmakers invent ways of involving women in the torture chamber) and humiliation for cheap thrills.
- Samuel Goldwyn Films
- 120 min
- Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Oliver Hirschbiegel
- Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Wotan Wilke Mohring, Justus Von Dohvanyi, Nicki Von Tempelhoff, Edgar Selge, Andrea Sawatzki
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