Why have the landmark psychology experiments of the post-war era proved so enduring? Designed as dramas about human behaviour, experimenters drew on theatrical techniques and tailored their results for cinema – results that, though skewed, have become embedded in the collective subconscious.
Now, those experiments are back in the spotlight with two fictional films – the Milgram biopic The Experimenter (2015) and the Stanford Prison Experiment (2015) – which screened at the Sundance Film Festival last week, and more in the pipeline. My own upcoming feature documentary Shock Room is among them.
Over the decades these experiments have inspired multiple screen translations. This raises the important question: are they as much art as science? That’s a question Milgram asked himself when he called “wrap” on Obedience (1965), the documentary film that authored his results.… Read the rest