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September 14, 2010

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Chas Beshears

I must admit that I have not seen the prior film Das Experiment. Had I seen that, it could have affected my opinion of this movie because I could see what it did or did not live up to. That aside, by no means did I find this to be a great movie, but I didn't find it to be that bad at all; rather, it was pretty interesting.

I'll start with two things that didn't make sense to me. First, I didn't understand why the prisoners wouldn't clean their plates once that rule was understood. (I'm serious.) If you're going to be paid $14K for following the rules, you should be willing to force yourself to eat food that doesn't taste good. I mean there's Fear Factor and the taboo of what you are eating on top of the grossness. Yet, the prisoners wouldn't eat crappy tasting beans. Second, the guard who is beaten and becomes a prisoner is bloodied. Wouldn't the "social scientists" monitoring the experiment find this as circumstantial evidence that the "no violence" rule was violated when it was picked up by the camera? Either "no," or that wasn't the point of the experiment.

The ending wasn't confusing to me. SPOILER ALERT. The "it's over" and humanity kicking in I suppose made sense. There was no more need for violence, everyone could walk home. But I really felt the murderous rage of the prisoners and wanted the guards dead just like they did. I would have been more satisfied if they said "f*#k it" and murdered them anyways.

The room without cameras I'm sure was part of the grand design of the experiment. Even assuming otherwise, it was plausible that the rules could be violated in there. And the hitting of the prisoner who hit Barris (I believe), could be be seen as something other than "violence" on the guard's part. Well, the red light didn't go on in any case. (I say this with some sarcasm.)

I wasn't taken aback by the fact that little was revealed about the characters. I took the movie as a collective look at most of the characters and didn't really want to know much more than was revealed in their paperwork and interviews. I think it would drag on or lose focus if it did. And sure, money was the sole or primary motivation (typically), but near the end you see consciousness rapidly change as things really escalate and get out of hand.

I don't see how Forest Whitaker bombed this role. You see his inner tension as he "steps up to the plate." There are psychological contradictions and you can see it in his facial expressions. He ultimately sacrifices his humanity. And you can see the remorse at the end when he gets it back. I find nothing shallow or one-dimensional about this performance. Power dynamics play out in his mind and around him simultaneously.

Some people would say the red light symbolizes god, but I think that is looking into things too much. To me this is just a movie that aimed to be both psychological and sociological and for that I was satisfied with the ride. Either way. Maybe what I got out of it was different than what was intended. It seems like The Experiment was striving to make a big statement about human nature in its most debased form, how we're "just animals" ("but maybe more?"). Yes, homo sapien sapiens are animals. But I don't care to suppose human nature is ultimately one way or another. I think the society we live in (or whatever environment we're in) can bring out our best or worst qualities.

It seems like nearly every sentence of Brian's review is filled with utter disdain for this movie. I mean calling Adrien Brody's character a "pacifist with a heart of gold." It's like "oh snap, he gonna change and go against his values." Come on.

And the abuse was not necessarily a contractual violation, at least at first. (There was the warning that Civil Rights may be violated.) I mean, if the rules were strict then when Travis patted Barris early on in the experiment that would have been a violation because the prisoners were not to touch the guards. The form of abuse seemed to hinge on "what is violence?" You could say that denying insulin shots was violence. At the same time, there was not supposed to be anything coming in from the outside. (It also seemed implied that upholding order took priority and could mitigate violations through retribution.)

The government testing through the "corporation" was primarily psychological and aimed at finding peoples' breaking point. It is not that far-fetched to see the experiment as furthering some malevolent government interest in finding ways to prop up the system of private profit and assert global dominance.

I enjoyed seeing people change and decide it's not worth it. Barris tried to hold on the longest.

Kip Nircan

Well I don't need to comment. Chas said it all. To sum up I loved the movie and this would have been a really great movie to watch in a theater had there been a smooth transition until they got into the real experiment.

Dave

poor film

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