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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Based on the real life experiment of the same name conducted at Stanford University in 1971, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a psychological thriller/drama directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez and starring Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano and Thomas Mann.
Based on real events, Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Crudup) came up with a psychological experiment by simulating a prison environment in the basement of Stanford University's psychology department. 24 male students were selected and randomly assigned the roles of either prisoner or guard for a period of 14 days in order to observe their behavioral changes. Almost immediately the guards start abusing their power whilst the prisoners become more and more indoctrinated, whilst Dr. Zimbardo and his staff soon also start being transformed by the experiment.
A careful recreation of the real-life events which took place in Stanford University in 1971, The Stanford Prison Experiment benefits greatly from a uniformly great cast as well as some serious understated claustrophobic cinematography and a sparse yet highly effective soundtrack. Billy Crudup is fantastic as Dr. Zimbardo who completely gets caught up in his own experiment before finally realising things have gotten way out of control and Ezra Miller and Michael Angarano stand out as the most rebellious prisoner and power abusing guard respectively. The Stanford Prison Experiment premiered at the Sundance Film Festival where it won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award whilst also being nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. Enormously challenging and intense, The Stanford Prison Experiment is thought-provoking, utterly terrifying and, amazingly, completely based on real events.