At the Movies – The Experimenter

2016 At the movies March 2016 Suzanne A. Marshall

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the March 2016 Edition

Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Taryn Manning

Director: Michael Almereyda

“In 1961, famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary humans’ willingness to obey authority.”

The art direction for this film really makes it seem like you are back in the early sixties. The wardrobes, lighting, sound and graininess of the images have that older quality (some of us may remember) lending to the feeling that you’ve stepped back fifty plus years in history. And of course you have. There are even some short scenes that are shot with black and white mattes in the background giving the impression of watching a stage play.

The essence of this true story is Milgram’s experimentations with human behavior and volunteers who are literally asked to proceed through various project phases even though they believe that they are causing another person discomfort and pain. They are caught between being good volunteers helping with a study, while going against their own moral values simply because they are being asked to do it. It’s like a test of obedience. In one instance the behavioural comparison was likened to the Nazi death camps during the Second World War where so many people obeyed orders as part of the extermination process. They seemed compelled to do it for a higher authority.

Understandably, these experiments and the results were subject to great scrutiny and moral debate among the academic community. I found this movie both interesting and disturbing to say the least. The roles played by the cast were top notch.

IMBD rated this movie as 6.6/10 based on 5,832 + viewers.

Download the full edition or view it online