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Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and his 'shock' machine in 'Experimenter' (Magnolia)

Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) and his ‘shock’ machine in ‘Experimenter’ (Magnolia)

At Yale in 1961, researcher Stanley Milgram began a long-term, wide-ranging experiment on obedience and authority that would actually—and for once, this isn’t hyperbole—shock the world with its conclusions. That’s the story of Michael Almereyda’s daring and (yes) experimental film Experimenter, opening this week.

My review is at PopMatters:

[Milgram] put a volunteer in a room with an officious research assistant and called them “Teacher”. He instructed Teacher to ask questions of a “Learner” in another room, a man they could hear but not see, a man they were told had a heart condition. Teacher administered a series of apparently escalating and painful electric shocks to Learner, and to continue no matter how many times Teacher heard Learner grunt and shout in pain. Teacher was free to leave whenever they liked … Many volunteers squirm with hesitation. Some ask the assistant if they will be responsible for whatever happens. Most of them deliver shock after shock, long after Learner has begged to be let out, and then fallen quiet…

Here’s the trailer:

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