THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT
Cast: Billy Crudup. Michael Angarano. Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Olivia Thrilby, Nelsan Ellis
Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Winning two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including Best Screenplay, this is an edge-of-your-seat thriller based on a true story that took place way back in 1971, when a college experiment suddenly went wrong. The consequences shattered the world that showed the dark side of power and the effects of imprisonment. Based on the book ‘The Lucifer Effect’ by Philip Zimbardo, we get a firsthand account from Zimbardo himself, who also stars in this crime flick and appears at the end.
In 1971, when Stanford University broke for the vacation, Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) decided to conduct a two-week experiment involving 24 young grads who would play the role of 12 guards and 12 prisoners. The goal was to investigate the source of abusive behavior in prisons. Each student was to be paid 15 USD per day after the experiment. Volunteer students were placed in a simulated prison environment, chosen at random to be either a prisoner or guard. The ‘prisoners’ lived the experiment 24/7, whereas the guards could go home at the end of each shift. The whole experiment was monitored and recorded, but even the team watching the events unfold, failed to stop the spiraling situation, probably relishing in the fun. So what happens when you give authority and then play with it over your own college mates? The result is a conflict. Within only 24 hours, the relationship between the guards and prisoners had become bitter, with the guards' taking their role seriously and making life for prisoners inhuman. The result was psychological and physical torture, abuse of power, escape attempts, sexual harassment and outbreaks of violence.
Things get pretty bad before Zimbardo accepts he has to end the experiment. This happens more due to the unexpected presence of Zimbardo’s future wife Christina Maslach (Olivia Thirlby) who took up the issue with Zimbardo, claiming that what he was doing was morally wrong. Great acting, bold scenes, a hard hitting script, make this a great film.
— Verus Ferreira