‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ reveals the dark side of power

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2015/07/17/stanford-prison-experiment-reveals-the-dark-side-of-power/

Any person who has ever taken a psychology course has heard of The Stanford Prison Experiment. If you haven’t, you will learn more from the 2015 movie by the same name than from any book. In fact, this movie, written by Tim Talbott and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, will bring your understanding to the next level.

In this extremely tense, psychological thriller, Billy Crudup stars as Stanford University professor Philip Zimbardo. In 1971, Zimbardo convinced 24 male students to participate in a study where they were assigned roles as either prisoners or guards in a simulated jail. They were paid $15 per day for a total of two weeks. Zimbardo was interested in examining the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. As the film progresses, we observe a group of seemingly well adjusted and responsible college students evolve into drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days.

Ezra Miller (‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower) gives a powerful and realistic performance as Daniel Culp, who becomes known as Prisoner ‘8612.’  The film also features an extraordinary cast of young actors, including Olivia Thirlby, Tye Sheridan, Keir Gilchrist, Michael Angarano, and Thomas Mann.

The film exposes the veneer of civilization as brittle and the humanitarian instinct as frail. The results of the study may have astonished the world, but this movie will leave you wondering why and how the human mind can so easily justify cruelty.

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ is a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat thriller about the dark side of human nature. It will leave you rattled and sad, as well as appreciative of moral codes that keep such demons at bay.

This movie, created with the close participation of Dr. Zimbardo, is so well done it is no surprise that it was the winner of two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, including Best Screenplay.

IFC Films will be releasing The Stanford Prison Experiment at the Kendall Square theater on July 24.

Contact Tamara Starr at [email protected]