Das Experiment (The Experiment)

2001

Das Experiment (The Experiment)

Critics Consensus

Das Experiment's knotty plot may not prove as revelatory as it promises, but it succeeds as an action film with a lot on its addled mind.

72%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 65

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 22,280
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Das Experiment (The Experiment) Photos

Movie Info

A man taking part in a scientific study finds the fine line between play-acting and reality has been blurred beyond recognition in this taut drama. Tarek Fahd (Moritz Bleibtreu) is a journalist who is temporarily making ends meet by driving a taxi when he sees an advertisement offering 4,000 marks to people willing to submit to a psychological experiment. Intrigued, Tarek offers to take part in the study and persuades one of his former editors to help him work up a story about his experiences. Recording the events using a special high-tech video camera hidden in his glasses, Tarek arrives for the two-week experiment to discover half of the volunteers will pose as prison guards and the other half will be their prisoners. Before long the behavior of the subjects suggests more than just make-believe; "inmate" Tarek, in particular, is unwilling to take abuse from the "guards" and makes no secret of his contempt, while Berus (Justus VonDohnanyi) begins playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with Tarek. Tarek, meanwhile, begins escaping reality by fantasizing about Dora (Maren Eggert), a woman with whom he had a brief fling before taking part in the experiment.

Cast

Moritz Bleibtreu
as Tarek Fahd
Christian Berkel
as Steinhoff Prisoner No. 77
Oliver Stokowski
as Schutte Prisoner No. 38
Andrea Sawatzki
as Dr. Jutta Grimm
Wotan Wilke Möhring
as Joe Prisoner No. 69
Stephan Szasz
as Prisoner No. 53
Polat Dal
as Prisoner No. 40
Danny Richter
as Prisoner No. 21
Ralf Muller
as Prisoner No. 15
Markus Rudolf
as Prisoner No. 74
Peter Fieseler
as Prisoner No. 11
Thorsten J.H. Dersch
as Prisoner No. 86
Sven Grefer
as Prisoner No. 94
Timo Dierkes
as Guard Eckert
Antoine Monot Jr.
as Guard Bosch
Lars Gartner
as Guard Renzel
Jacek Klimontko
as Guard Glaser
Markus Klauk
as Guard Stock
Ralph Puttmann
as Guard Armandy
Edgar Selge
as Professor Klaus Thon
André Jung
as Ziegler
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Critic Reviews for Das Experiment (The Experiment)

All Critics (65) | Top Critics (22)

  • The movie's central premise -- is well supported in a film whose strength is in its close-ups on characters and its ability to put the viewer in the cell with them.

    Nov 8, 2002 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Probably it's more action film than anything else, but has enough insight to be of interest to serious filmgoers.

    Nov 8, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • What impressed me is how effective the movie was, even though the outcome is a foregone conclusion.

    Oct 25, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • An R-rated version of Survivor, Big Brother or any number of reality-TV shows that present voyeurism as entertainment and exploitation as insight.

    Oct 24, 2002 | Rating: 2/4
  • Das Experiment may make an obvious point, but it's still a relevant one.

    Oct 11, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • In the end, it looks as if this experiment proves only one thing: People forced to play guards and prisoners tend to end up imitating bad prison movies.

    Oct 4, 2002
    Washington Post
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Das Experiment (The Experiment)

  • Aug 02, 2011
    This is the perfect archetype of a movie that starts out tame and gets more and more disturbing as it progresses. I've really never seen another movie that did such a good job of showing people descend into pure madness at a pace that makes sense. It was realistic, which made it truly frightening. The main character is also really likable, which helped to turn my stomach when things got bad.
    Alex M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 14, 2010
    I know of the Stanford Prison Experiment, which this movie is inspired by, and I thought that it would make a great movie if it was done right and for a while there I was really hating this movie, just hating it. I don't know what it was, I just felt that everyone treating the experiment as a joke (at first) came across poorly. If you volunteer for something like this, why would you treat it as a joke? You were specifically told that it's supposed to be real. The guards are supposed to act like guards and the prisoners treating everything like a joke will just incite them, so I found that to be very stupid. Also the deal with Tarek and the glasses was just so hokey and I couldn't suspend my disbelief with that silly stuff. Also, in the end, the footage from the glasses led to absolutely jack shit so what was the point? Thing is, this movie had to be presented as about believably as possible and in a way they failed because I knew from beginning to end that I was watching a movie and not 'real' characters trying to fight to survive, basically. Also the actor who plays Tarek, at first, is portrayed as such a rebel and he just came across to me like a complete and total goof, so I really hated the character for the first 20 minutes or so. Thankfully, by the end of the movie, the character grew on me tremendously and I liked him in the end. But boy, oh boy was it a bumpy ride for a while there. But then, the movie got so much better when the guards started finally growing into their 'roles' more and more and from then on, the movie got infinitely better from where it was at the beginning. With that said, this is about the lowest 3.5 rating I'll give a movie, because on scale of 10, this movie is a 7. Like I said, I never suspended by disbelief, it was always a movie to me. And that's something I hope the american remake fixes. I'm usually not a proponent of remakes, especially from americans, but if this movie was done correctly from beginning to end (ie: cast unknown actors, grittier direction, more believable dialogue) this story has the potential to be a fantastic movie. I didn't like the way this movie was shot, it was shot like this was an action movie and I just didn't like the cinematography. This movie looks really cheap, to be completely honest, but don't let that fool you, this is still a fine, fine movie. Another thing, I don't know if I was the only but I REALLY hated the Berus character, of course that was his purpose. But part of me really didn't want to see him on-screen. Like with Tarek, the character sort of grew on me. I think what made me hate him was that he was probably a really insecure douche outside of the experiment. And with the experiment, you give him the power to really take out his frustrations out on the prisoners here. So, in a sense, Berus was by far the most believable character in the movie. I think what made me hate him was the actor, the actor has the kind of face that I just want to punch because he looks so smug sometimes. But I don't hate the actor, he was quite good in this movie, I just don't like his FACE~! But anyways, I don't have much more to say. This movie is good, but it's not as memorable as it should be given its subject matter, so that's something I hope the remake fixes.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 09, 2010
    The Experiment failed to yield any favorable reports for me. If you wish, experiment it on yourself; though IMO, it should be aborted.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Nov 16, 2009
    Interesting and intiguing (prison movies often are), but with a pretty bad implemented side story.
    Stefan P Super Reviewer

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