Discussion: Das Experiment
May. 20th, 2004 @ 03:47 pm
Ok everyone, time to discuss Das Experiment. I hope you've all seen the movie. *looks around suspiciously*
So, now post a new comment to this post with your opinions/ideas/feelings/ranting/raving/thoughts/background info/what-have-you about Das Experiment. Then, reply to each others' comments agreeing/disagreeing/countering/expanding/and-so-on with what that person said.
I really enjoyed this movie, and working from the benefit of having seen it before, I got a lot more out of the second time around.
One thing I noticed the second time around is that Fahd and Dora both fantasized about each other, but Fahd usually fantasized about the physical/sex parts and Dora usually fantasized about the emotional/conversation parts.
I also noticed lots of parallels between the scenario and modern-day events. Primarily, untrained individuals given a position of power and a command to maintain order with a stipulation of no violence result to some pretty harsh extremes. The use of humiliation seems to address issues of the US military in Iraq at prisons, where should we blame the situation and not the soldiers?
Having read about the Stanford Prison Experiment after seeing this movie, I could see the similarities and differences, the artistic liberties taken by the film makers, from the original story. It was obviously much more sensationalized, but the fundamental lessons are still there. People will quickly fall into roles given the proper circumstances.
The performances in the movie were top notch with Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run
) giving a pretty good performance, but with a character that seems far less sympathetic when you realize he views the situation as a game and is actually instigating much of the conflict in the prison. Of course the scientists planned it this way from the get-go, so how much is he to blame? But still, had he been out of the equation, how far would have things really gone?
This movie shows a startling side of the human condition. That given the right circumstances and environmental feedback, we really are capable of almost anything, right down to some of the most dispicable acts. Every man has his limits.
I'm with you on the Iraqi prison abuse, that was the first thing I thought of when humiliation was mentioned. To me, that showed the writers had done their research well, and gave the film more credibility. This movie shows a startling side of the human condition. That given the right circumstances and environmental feedback, we really are capable of almost anything, right down to some of the most dispicable acts. Every man has his limits.
It's the classic 'power corrupts' idea, but I have to question how realistic the timetable is. I found myself asking the same questions I was asking after 28 Days Later... Sure, anyone can go mad or power crazy given the right circumstances, especially lawlessness/absolute power, but would it really happen so fast? I have some trouble believing most people, even those with underlying issues, would go from zero to crazy in three days, especially since the guards were allowed to leave at the end of the day. I'm getting kind of longwinded here, maybe I'll just post my overview in a new comment?
but I have to question how realistic the timetable is
Well, the Stanford Prison Experiment had a rebellion on the second day, like the one that ended with the fire extinguisher in the movie. And in the actual experiment, after 5 days, it was terminated because things were getting out of hand with a planned prison escape. So, the timeline of the movie is pretty close to what actually happened in the real prison experiment.
This film was an interesting take on the old "beware absolute power" concept. I saw alot of post WW2/Nazi atrocities issues in the film, from the corruption of some prison guards once they were in power to the mob mentality of those who followed along. (Couldn't you just see the inevitable 'following orders' defense at trial?) Visually, the blonde haired, impeccably uniformed head guard, the prison smocks, and the shaving of Fahd's head really drove the Nazi Germany theme home.
I also saw alot of "Lord of the Flies" in this film. The two heads of groups at odds, the imbalance of power between the groups, and the absence of laws coupled with the inescapability of the situation are some similarities that come to mind. Since Lord of the Flies was written in response to the horrors of WW2, I could just be oversimplifying, but that guard who got caught passing notes and imprisoned really reminded me of Piggy.
Overall, I enjoyed Das Experiment
, and it reminded me of why I like foreign films so much. It would be almost impossible to get something so dark and unique made in Hollywood, and the end result would probably be cheap and corny.
Oh, and that knife scene at the end was fucking sick.
I never finished reading Lord of the Flies
, nor finished watching the movie for that matter, so that whole undertone was lost on me. Though I do know the basic story, I was more drawn to the Iraqi prison parallels the second time around. But that was probably because it's so fresh in my mind.
Maybe I'm remembering it incorrectly, but didn't they make a Nazi reference in the movie?It would be almost impossible to get something so dark and unique made in Hollywood, and the end result would probably be cheap and corny.
There's some good dark American stuff. I think Secretary
was one of the best dark romantic comedies.
Yeah, at one point Fahd/Fart called the guards "fucking Nazis."
One Nazi reference. The kiosk guy that got brained called the guards Nazis.
Yeah, I agree with the Lord of the Flies thing. Katie actually pointed that out while we were watching it. That guy was totally Piggy.
I agree with what everyone else said above. I really liked the film, but there were a couple of things that come to mind...
1. Why didn't the researchers have security guards? In a high-stress situation involving weapons (I don't think the researchers knew about the guns, but they gave them billy clubs), you would think they'd take precautions.
2. How could they have possibly forbade any of the test subjects from leaving? It SEEMED like they were trying to conduct a legitimate experiment, but ethically (and legally) all subjects in an experiment must be voluntary and free to leave at any time. Otherwise the results aren't even taken into consideration. It's one of the reasons longitudinal studies can be inaccurate: people drop out halfway through.
3. Was the love stuff really necessary? I mean, they met for like 45 minutes. I understand the function of the relationship (they each have very little to hold on to, and besides, someone has to come save the day when all goes to hell), but I thought it could have been a little bit more well-developed.
Good points, i think i forgot to mention the "maybe we'll let you leave tomorrow" stuff because it was so ridiculous. Maybe that, along with the professor's general behavior, was another example of corruption in authority.
As for the girlfriend stuff, I found it pretty annoying. They met once, then she calls about 50 times, shows up and breaks into his apartment, lives there for a few days, then asks him to leave the country with her. Do the Germans have a word for 'stalker'? (question mark put outside quotations for alan's benefit)
Solid, unspectacular. I submitted it to an experiment of my own: I fast-forwarded and paid 0 attention to any frame with Moritz Bleibtreu's lady-friend in it; and the film not only suffered nothing, but flowed together much better.
The default romance is something we've come to expect from Hollywood films, so to see it take up eminence in all walks of filmmaking is disturbing. Romance has no place in any film that is not a love story, as far as I'm concerned; it certainly doesn't deserve 10 minutes of a film about human endurance.
Well, I disagree, because she gave him something to think of when things got bad. It wasn't useless and the subplot did add to the main plot. Though my main issues with it where more of that they only knew each other for 45 minutes and she's already breaking in and moving into his apartment. Like, what the fuck?
And if you notice, 99.9999999999% of the movies released have some sort of romantic side to them. It's pretty much a cinematic necessity.
"Well, I disagree, because she gave him something to think of when things got bad"
They could have used anything - childhood memories, for instance, would have broken up the plot less and served essentially the same purpose. And yeah, I'm sick of that instant-familiarity-"weird" girl shite too.
"And if you notice, 99.9999999999% of the movies released have some sort of romantic side to them"
Hell yeah I notice. I hate it. Unless it's a love story, it only distracts from the main theme (unless a significant portion of the theme is related to love - Kill Bill being an example). There are great works of art where the creators have refused to allow romance to muddle up their point - The Prisoner is the first one that comes to mind (I can't remember where I read it, but I know that despite all the women being written into the show as love interests McGoohan refused to allow his character to ever fall in love with one) - and there are plenty of others that just don't include it. Can you imagine if the Dollars trilogy had love interests? Gak, gak.
It's essentially because of this subplot that The Experiment feels like a German film made for the American market, just like all those ragtag knockoff cooking-based films but with a slightly hipper market. It ruins the entire possibility of the film feeling culturally fresh and bringing a newer way to check things out, and makes it feel like just another movie; above-average, but not great at all.