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The Stanford Prison Experiment

  • Documentary and factual
  • Drama
  • 2015
  • Kyle Patrick Alvarez
  • 117 mins
  • 15

Summary

Drama based on a true story, starring Billy Crudup and Michael Angarano. Eighteen volunteers are locked in a mock prison and assigned the roles of "guards" and "prisoners". Over six days, the group undergoes a disturbing breakdown.

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Review

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

This raw, disturbing, often unbearably tense true-life drama concerns Stanford University's controversial 1971 study into prison life, where student volunteers assumed the roles of prisoners and guards to devastating effect. Screenwriter Tim Talbott faithfully follows the facts and identifies the actual project leaders by name, with Billy Crudup playing Dr Philip Zimbardo and Olivia Thirlby as his partner Christina Maslach - only the identities of the human guinea pigs have been changed. (Even a Tarantino-esque exchange about Cool Hand Luke - ("You look like the guy who kills Paul Newman at the end." "Haven't seen the flick - thanks for ruining it.") - is based on actual testimony.) Aside from one use of slo-mo during the first eruption of violence, director Kyle Patrick Alvarez directs without artifice, his flat tracking shots emphasising the repetition of "prison" life and the sadism of the guards. He's ably assisted by Andrew Hewitt's minimalist score and a solid ensemble cast, including Michael Angarano (HBO's The Knick) and Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk about Kevin) as a victimised inmate.

How to watch

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Credits

Cast

rolename
Dr Philip ZimbardoBilly Crudup
Christopher ArcherMichael Angarano
Anthony CarrollMoises Arias
Karl VandyNicholas Braun
Prisoner 416Thomas Mann (2)
Peter Mitchell / 819Tye Sheridan
Daniel Culp / 8612Ezra Miller
Dr Christina MaslachOlivia Thirlby
Matthew TownshendJames Frecheville
Jim Randall / 4325Jack Kilmer
Jesse FletcherNelsan Ellis

Crew

rolename
DirectorKyle Patrick Alvarez

Details

Theatrical distributor
Munro Film Services
Released on
2016-06-10
Languages
English
Guidance
Violence, swearing.
Formats
Colour
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