Posted on Friday, June 19th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker have joined the cast of The Experiment, which is a remake of Oliver Hirschbiegel’s 2001 breakout film Das Experiment. Hirschbiegel’s film was based on the Stanford Prison Experiment, which was was run by Stanford’s Professor Philip Zimbardo in 1971 to evaluate the psychological effects of being a prison guard or inmate. Paul Scheuring, creator of the show Prison Break, has scripted and will direct. Elijah Wood and Cam Gigandet are also in the cast.
Much as in the real experiment, in which twenty-four young men were selected to act out roles as prison guards and inmates, The Experiment will look at a nearly identical situation in which a study is designed to evaluate how the power and control inherent to the guard/prisoner roles affects the participants. Brody will play the leader of the prisoners while Whitaker will be a guard who is corrupted by his assigned power.
No one was injured or killed in the Stanford Prison Experiment, though over the course of six days the participants all lived their assigned roles with shocking fervor. Many of the ‘guards’ exhibited severely sadistic tendencies and ‘prisoners’ reportedly experienced real emotional trauma during the short test. In Hirschbiegel’s film many events from the real experiment were used, but the ‘guards’ go farther than the real ones did, by attempting to prolong the experiment to hold on to their power.
There was another SPE film in the works recently, written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, and reportedly starring Channing Tatum, Giovanni Ribisi, Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Eisenberg. But that one may be dead — in a quick scan I wasn’t able to find any evidence that it has actually gone forward. Not a surprise that this would be perpetually interesting material, as the real thing was such a striking example of how people can adapt to roles of power and submission almost immediately.
Check out one of the US trailers for Hirschbiegel’s version, embedded below.