California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Single file, ‘Das Experiment’ is about to begin

    If you were given the opportunity to earn $4,000 to pretend to be a prisoner or a prison guard for a few days, would you do it?

    California Lutheran University students, come see the German film “Das Experiment” at Lundring Events Center at 7 p.m. on March 5.

    Let’s see if, after viewing the film, you would still consider taking the offer.

    “Das Experiment” is a dramatization based on the famous Stanford Prison Experiment conducted by Professor Philip Zimbardo in 1971.
    CLU professor Walter Stewart, who has a doctorate in German, is coordinating the showing.

    “They tried to make an American version of the story in 2010 with Adrien Brody and Forest Whitaker, but it didn’t have nearly the punch or excitement of the German version,” Stewart said.

    Stewart noted that this film is in German for a good reason. It is not only that the Germans confronted the authority gone wrong in the 1930s and 1940s; Germans have a long tradition of psychological  study and analysis beginning with the likes of Nietzsche, Freud, Adler and Jung.

    “All of these scholars relied on a lot of old German and Greek literature to find out what was going on with people psychologically,” Stewart said.

    The experiment requires participants to take part in playing guards or prisoners in a mock prison experiment.

    The experiment goes on for several days and as time goes on, participants begin to transform into the roles they are playing.

    Sophomore Chris Mitchell talks about his insights into the movie.

    “Before I saw it, I was a little apprehensive, I just thought that they weren’t going to take it seriously. It was really surprising how everyone filled in their positions and the prisoners became the prisoners, the guards become really malicious guards,” Mitchell said.

    The movie has certain scenes that will catch the audience off guard, as you might see the most unexpected results and display of character.

    “There was one part of the movie where one of the guys referred to himself as his number. He has become his number. This was eye opening and shocking. It shows that people fill in their roles really quickly when given the opportunity,” Mitchell said.

    Mitchell takes a poke at what this movie is trying to tell us about the human mind.

    “Our mind is very valuable and that it can easily be persuaded. I feel that were not as in control of our identities and our lives as we think we are,” Mitchell said.

    Not everyone agrees with the the methods of the study, however.
    Junior Megan Turner commented on the importance of having an ethics board to report to.

    “As a psychology major, there are a lot of extra things we need to consider when we want to look into finding out about how the mind works,” Turner said.

    According to Turner, the experiment that the movie is referring to is as enlightening for the audience as it was horrible for the participants.

    “Afterword, there was a lot of debate about how taking on a role can actually dictate people’s actions. Before there was a board to review purposed methods, there were likely certain things done that wouldn’t be okay to do now,” Turner said.

    However, Turner states that as a movie, “it makes a great Hollywood psychological thriller, because at the end, it leaves you wondering what you in the audience are capable of.”


    Dalee Jung
    Staff Writer
    Published Feb. 26, 2014