6.9/10
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The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

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2:31 | Trailer

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From £2.49 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
In 1971, twenty-four male students are selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Writers:

, (based on the book "The Lucifer Effect")
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Popularity
1,327 ( 65)
4 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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John Lovett
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Prisoner 416
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Dr. Christina Maslach
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Storyline

In 1971, twenty-four male students are selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They were given 2 weeks. It lasted 6 days.


Certificate:

15 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

10 June 2016 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

A Experiência da Prisão Stanford  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$37,514, 19 July 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$643,557, 20 September 2015
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Acting pairs, Michael Angarano and Nicholas Braun, Ezra Miller and Johnny Simmons, Ki Hong Lee and Chris Sheffield, and Keir Gilchrist and Thomas Mann, have all been in a movie together prior to The Stanford Prison Experiment. Respectively, those movies are Sky High (2005) (and Red State (2011)), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012), The Maze Runner (2014), and It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010). See more »

Goofs

When a guard asks the prisoners to shout "Prisoner 819 did a bad thing" 20 times, they actually shout it 24 times. See more »

Quotes

Jesse Fletcher: You brought me here to legitimize this experiment, and there's nothing legitimate about this place, Phil.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: You're right. You're right. I didn't explain it well. Prisons they represent a loss of freedom literally and symbolically.
Jesse Fletcher: Yeah, but that does not explain why they're wearing dresses. They're wearing dresses, Phil.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: Yes, I understand. Uh, we're trying to strip away their individuality. Make them uniform. Feminize them.
Jesse Fletcher: Feminize them?
Dr. Philip Zimbardo: Yes. Feminize them. Take away all the things that make ...
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Connections

References Frankenstein (1931) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Chillingly bad science
29 May 2016 | by See all my reviews

This film is a dramatization of a real psychological experiment that took place at the Stanford University in 1971. The motivation was to study the dynamics of individuals who were arbitrarily placed into roles as prisoners and guards at a simulated prison. Since none of the study participants were actual criminals or correction officers, the idea was to glean insight into the psychology of the power imbalance that arises from the situation, as opposed to the people involved.

Things famously degraded quickly and the experiment was terminated after only six days. Multiple guards displayed sadistic traits and performed acts of psychological and even (to a smaller degree) physical torture, all overseen, permitted, and arguably encouraged by "superintendent" Philip Zimbardo, the study's creator.

The conditions the participants were exposed to were reprehensible, but even worse is that ultimately this was simply bad science, making the whole endeavor a cruel waste of time. The experiment lacked much of the basic rigor required, as highlighted in the film by a verbatim repetition of an actual conversation Mr. Zimbardo had with a colleague who questioned some of the basic scientific methodologies being utilized in the study.

Zimbardo himself committed what I would consider borderline criminal acts such as initially denying "prisoner" participants the option to leave when requested (to instill in them the belief that their situation was, in fact, real), which came frighteningly close to converting the "study" into a criminal act of kidnapping in my opinion.

Zimbardo explains this as him getting "to close" to the experiment, but personally I'm not particularly sympathetic to that argument. When you watch the actual clips from the study and read the notes, I'm more inclined to think that Mr. Zambardo himself had a sadistic streak that he failed to control for a time. Honestly, I think the man should have faced criminal charges for his role in this fiasco.

In the end, some good did come out of this experiment in that it created a push for establishing standards and controls for psychological experiments in the future.

Despite knowing the actual outcome, I still felt anxious about the fates of the young men involved, a testament to the power of the acting and directing here. To me, this movie is a chilling and visceral reminder of how easy it is to create conditions that foster cruelty and dehumanization. A rewarding, if somewhat depressing, film to watch.


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