Staring Moritz Bleibtreu,Maren Eggert Running time 118 minutes Certificate 18 (Metrodome)
Based on a project conducted in 1971, The Experiment is set in Germany and centres around a group of male volunteers, who are asked to spend two weeks in a mock up prison. The men are split into two groups, prisoners and guards. The prisoners are informed that they for-go their civil rights when they enter the prison, and while they are secluded they are monitored by a group of scientists.
The men come from a diverse social group and all have different motivations to be there. Some need the cash, others are just curious. One man, Fahd (Mauritz Bleibtreu), is an undercover reporter, and he is the main protagonist in the film, causing much of the conflict and rebellion.
The Experiment is shot almost in a pseudo documentary style, sometimes using footage from the secret camera that Fahd smuggles into the ‘prison’. The setting is as bland as you’d imagine a prison to be, grey walls, bars, stark lighting, etc, but the action is interspersed with images from Fahds relationship with his girlfriend Nora (Maren Eggert), who is left on the outside with no idea of Fahd’s involvement with the experiment.
As the film is based on a actual events, the story has a lot of potential to be interesting and full of suspense. But for me,too many things let The Experiment down.
The acting is insipid and as monotone as the prison backdrop, so in effect it is hard to tell where the characters end and the scenery begins.
You would expect with this subject matter a certain amount of tension and claustrophobia through out the movie, but it is completely void of it until the last act, when it is literally spoon-fed to the audience. Sadly when the pace did pick up, my concentration had completely dissolved and I began annoying the person next to me by constantly checking his watch.
For me personally,The Experiment was an unnecessary film if this is the best that could be done with a plot so rich in potential. In my opinion, art should either educate you or entertain you, but this film did neither. The only shocking thing about it is the way that I have responded to its content. The violence at the end almost seemed comical, but the most distressing thing is my reaction to the attempted rape scene. As a woman I should have felt some empathy or discomfort for the character involved, but I was so desensitised to the action, by this point, that I didn’t really care. Which is very tragic and not the mark of good film making.
2Sara Lovejoy's Score