Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Written by Don Bohlinger, Christoph Darnstädt and Mario
Starring Moritz Bleibtreu.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 10/20/02
I don’t what it is about me and foreign
films lately, but in a quest to hit every major film market this
year, I thought “Hey, I haven’t done German in a while...how about
‘Das Experiment’? That oughta work!” So, there you have it.
Film number 93 this year was a good one.
“Das Experiment” follows a fictional lab experiment in which 20 men
are separated into two groups: prisoners and guards. Researchers
are performing tests to see how the prisoners deal with a total loss
of civil rights while being held captive for two weeks. The money
is pretty good for the study participants, so for the subjects, it’s
a no-brainer...until the experiment begins, and things go horribly
I read somewhere that this film—set in a
modern-day Germany—is based on a similar experiment performed at
Stanford many years ago with similar results, and the idea behind
the experiment both here in the film and in real-life is very, very
intriguing. Moritz Bleibtreu (who also starred in “Run Lola Run”)
plays the lead prisoner here and he is excellent, but the whole cast
really brings the idea behind their respective side of the
experiment to life. Watching the prisoners devolve over the first
few days of the experiment is interesting, highly believable and
just a touch scary; I don’t think I would want to spend an hour in a
real prison, let alone two weeks. So, watching the prisoner group
be all buddy-buddy, then start to realize how bad it will suck to
sit in a cage for 14 days is well done. Things really take a turn
for the worst by the end of the film, but up to that point, the
experiment and its participants are very watchable.
“Das Experiment” also brought to mind my
only experience doing a study of any kind like this—the time during
Spring Break of my third year at UVA when I did a flu study. In an
incredible stroke of luck, my friend Dave “Money” Lee (the man who
named this column, which makes him a “Cool Guy” Lifetime Member)
actually had an e-copy of the essay I wrote to friends following my
experience during the cold study, and that file is attached. Trust
me, you will LOVE this attachment.
Rating: $9.00 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard