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Das Experiment [DVD]

Moritz Bleibtreu , Christian Berkel , Oliver Hirschbiegel    Suitable for 18 years and over   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Justus von Dohnányi, Edward Selge
  • Directors: Oliver Hirschbiegel
  • Producers: Ruben D. Preuss, Marc Conrad, Fritz Wildfeuer
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: German
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: In2film
  • DVD Release Date: 4 May 2009
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001V7P2WW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,747 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Inspired by a famous 1971 psychological experiment, Oliver Hirschbiegel's German-language movie Das Experiment finds a group of 20 volunteers randomly divided into 12 prisoners and eight guards and asked to play out their roles for a fortnight while scientists study their reactions. A conflict arises between undercover reporter Fahd (Moritz Bleibtreu), a con with a hidden agenda and the apparently mild-mannered Berus (Justus von Dohnanyi), a guard with a megalomaniac streak. The film begins as a psychological drama as ordinary people settle into the game, with joking displays of resistance by the "prisoners" greeted with increasing brutality from the "guards", but detours into suspense and horror as Fahd, who needs the experiment to get out of hand in order to make his story more saleable, deliberately ratchets up the tension between the factions only to see the situation spiral nightmarishly out of control as various test subjects in both camps edge closer to snapping.

With a terrific display of ensemble acting and unforced use of the currently popular claustrophobic semi-documentary look, Hirschbiegel's movie takes its time to get underway, with apparently irrelevant cutaways to Fahd's outside girlfriend (Maren Eggert), but works up to a powerful second half that delivers a sustained symphony of psychological and physical anguish.

On the DVD: Das Experiment on disc has an excellent-looking anamorphic widescreen transfer with English subtitles. The only extra feature is the trailer. --Kim Newman

Product Description

Intense German thriller inspired by the famous Stanford University prison experiment. Taxi driver Tarek (Moritz Bleibtrau) volunteers for an experiment in which a group of subjects will be divided up into guards and prisoners and locked up together for 14 days. Arriving at the 'prison', Tarek is assigned the role of prisoner, and by the end of the first day has already run into trouble with the guards. Over the coming days, the tensions between the two sides grows ever stronger and eventually results in a situation of open conflict.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary and topical 21 Aug 2004
One thing that is scary about this film is that it is based on a real experiment, carried out in 1971 at Stanford University, but what is really scary is how similar the fictional experiment is to the real one. The filmmakers really did their homework on this one: the dignity-robbing dresses the 'prisoners' have to wear, along with the flip-flops so they have to shuffle everywhere, the use of numbers instead of names, the 'guards' deciding to use press-ups as punishment: all of this was based on fact.
Obviously the film goes a bit further, and the situation escalates to a more violent outcome than the real life one did. I only read about the Stanford experiment after watching this film, and a few things which I thought were stretching credibility a bit turned out to be ones which which did really happen - a prisoner breaking down within two days seemed unlikely, but that actually happened at Stanford.
As for the film itself, it is very well shot, and the editing picks up the pace as it hurtles towards a conclusion. The acting is spot-on too. The only things that spoiled it for me was the strange sub-plot about the hero's girlfriend which was told in flashbacks interleaved in the main story. For me it was intrusive and detracted from the main plot.
As a piece of cinema on its own, this rates quite highly, but the real value of it is in the thoughts it can provoke if you start thinking about the implications, of how brutality can be carried out by 'normal' people if the circumstances are right, with the victims being dehumanised. It makes it easier to understand how some of the Nazi concentration camps were possible (which makes it especially brave for a German to make this film) and how some of the more recent events at Abu Ghraib were possible.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best film of 2002 18 Sep 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Recently we have seen many brilliant German films -- such as "Run Lola Run" -- and now, another superb film comes from that country, with the same Moritz Bleibtreu (who was Manni, Lola's love). But this time, the thrilling film "Das Experiment" is excellent for totally different reasons.
A taxi driver Tarek (Bleibtreu) sees an ad on a newspaper that looks very interesting, which read: "Participants Needed. 2 Weeks in a Mock Prison. Reward 4,000 German marks." He decides to apply, is accepted, and goes to a university where this experiment is to be done.
The "experiment" is conducted as follows: 20 participants are divided into to groups, 8 "guards" and 12 "prisoners." The former group were given uniform, handcuffs and other equipments while the latter are required to live in a small cell, wearing only a long white jacket. Though no violence is allowed on both sides, the "guards" set up 6 rules for the "prisoners" to obey. In case of emergency, the professors provide monitoring cameras that relay the images to the controlling room where the supervisors are supposed to watch over every detail of the behaivors of the participants. In this way, the first day starts.
But, as the days pass, the at first peaceful relations between the two groups start to get intensified. Some slight scuffle develops into a bigger and more serious fight and even the uprising of Tarek (now called No. 77), and those "guards" and "prisoners," ordinary people up until then, seriously start to struggle for the power, using unnecessary method of torturing and humiliating prisoners. The "experiment," revealing the brutal human nature under ever-increasing pressure, goes more than the intellectual professors expected, and everything results in inevitable catastrophy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars think Adrenalin, think Das Experiment 15 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Das Experiment is an excellent film exploring human nature in unusual circumstances. The storyline may be simple (a role-play experiment where people playing guards and prisoners are closely monitored and observed) but the complexity of the characters individual psychology is thrilling.
What happens when we give a small group of people power over others? How do different people react to such power? The shy and unloved becomes the tyrant, the rebelliouse beceomes the whimp and everything and everyone is turned inside out, revealing their darker inner selves, or the hidden hero they never knew they were.
When everything runs out of control the suspense is unbearable. Who runs the show now? Reality and Fantasy become indistinguishable, and we look right onto our darkest fears about who we are. A thrilling, mind-twisting, exciting, scary work of art not to be missed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good film but a harrowing one 10 Feb 2006
This film is based on a true story, the Stanford Prison Experiment, which shows the inhuman behaviour of which ordinary humans are capable of under certain conditions. The film as dramatic fiction does go beyond SPE, but it illustrates the same phenomenon, which we have seen in real life in Abu Ghraib. It illustrates the truth of the ancient Roman saying 'Who guards the guardians?' Without adequate leadership and guidance, instead of prisoners being treated humanely, as they should be, the use of power is liable to get out of hand.
Although fiction, it seems to me that this film may well be worthwhile watching for anyone involved in justice systems or interested in prison reform. It will also provide strong dramatic entertainment. But certainly unsuitable for any minor.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unsettling but Brilliant German Thriller
This is a first rate German thriller, which was subsequently taken up by Hollywood and made into an inferior remake starring Adrien Brody. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Bill Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Das Experiment
Wow, what a strong film! Well acted and well thought out story. Hope this wouldn't happen in real life - but who knows? Would recommend this to 'thinking' people.
Published 8 months ago by Beryl Woodhead
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a watch!
I bought this film mainly because I'm studying German at A-Level. I didn't know much about it when I placed an order; it just seemed vaguely interesting-looking. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrillingly Terrifying
The film itself has an interesting concept - The idea of a social-study conducted on normal, everyday people in a situation that they are unlikely to face is merely enthralling... Read more
Published 16 months ago by James Holian
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary insight into human nature.
Absolutely fabulous. Little bit of artistic license compared to actual events but nice cast, good film! Would recommend endlessly! Buy!
Published 18 months ago by stationeryaddict
5.0 out of 5 stars arrived quickly
the item arrived very quickly and was well packaged. It is a gift for my daughter so haven't tried to play it yet
Published 18 months ago by fieryvelvet2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film
Moritz Bleibtrau is great as the lead in this film. Dark and filled with suspence. Watch this version not the American which is pants!
Published 18 months ago by faerievampyr
4.0 out of 5 stars DVD
a bit slow to start but escalates quickly. I enjoyed this film but not sure if i can bare to watch it again
Published 19 months ago by Natalie Rehling
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Experiment!
I've never been put off by subtitles or difficult subjects - based on a true story, the film illustrates how quickly events can spiral out of control when one group of people is... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Phil C
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic film!!!!!
This is a fantastic film, very well acted by all the actors, just overall a really well made film!
There are some scenes that are disturbing, however if you can get past those... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Beth
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