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Experimenter

Experimenter

The Stanley Milgram StoryOct. 16, 2015 USA97 Min.PG-13
Your rating: 0
8.8 1,162 votes

Video trailer

Director

Cast

Peter Sarsgaard isStanley Milgram
Stanley Milgram
Winona Ryder isSasha Menkin Milgram
Sasha Menkin Milgram
Edoardo Ballerini isPaul Hollander
Paul Hollander
Jim Gaffigan isJames McDonough
James McDonough
Ned Eisenberg isSolomon Asch
Solomon Asch
Lori Singer isFlorence Asch
Florence Asch
Taryn Manning isMrs. Lowe
Mrs. Lowe
Anton Yelchin isRensaleer
Rensaleer

Synopsis

Yale University, 1961. Stanley Milgram designs a psychology experiment that still resonates to this day, in which people think they’re delivering painful electric shocks to an affable stranger strapped into a chair in another room. Despite his pleads for mercy, the majority of subjects don’t stop the experiment, administering what they think is a near-fatal electric shock, simply because they’ve been told to do so. With Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s trial airing in living rooms across America, Milgram strikes a nerve in popular culture and the scientific community with his exploration into people’s tendency to comply with authority. Celebrated in some circles, he is also accused of being a deceptive, manipulative monster, but his wife Sasha stands by him through it all.

Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Experimenter
Original titleExperimenter
IMDb Rating6.6 11,915 votes
TMDb Rating6.8 143 votes

(53) comments

  • ShuggyAugust 1, 2015Reply

    An elephant?

    For some reason I expected more of a documentary, so this docudrama
    nearly had me out the door, but the authoritative man in the grey lab
    coat persuaded me to stay.

    It clearly, and to my understanding, accurately, lays out the format of
    the notorious Milgram Experiment, which is necessary for all that
    follows; the public and academic backlash, our involvement as we
    question whether we would behave like Milgram’s subjects, and his own
    soul-searching. To be sure, he comes across as quite cold-hearted, and
    more self-doubt would have made a more interesting story. Instead, all
    of the doubt is carried by his colleagues and Wynona Ryder as his
    patient wife.

    The original experiment is well-enough represented that the re-creation
    of a TV series about it (with Kellan Lutz as a young William Shatner
    playing the Milgram character) has some amusingly obvious elements of
    parody, and hence self-parody of this film.

    The film has some unsettling features over and above the experiments
    themselves – scenes carried out in colour in front of poorly placed
    monochrome back-projections, and an elephant, yes, a real, if slightly
    out of focus elephant behind Peter Sarsgaard as he talks to the camera
    walking towards us along a university corridor. Why? If it’s The
    Elephant In The Room, what are we not seeing?

    As Milgram points out, he and his experiment are treated with
    opprobrium, but the results are accepted, and serve their purpose.
    While the Holocaust is repeatedly invoked (including footage of the
    Eichmann trial), and Milgram twice mentions that his name is Hebrew for
    pomegranate (in fact it’s not but milgrom is the Yiddish), an obvious
    ethical parallel is not mentioned: the Nazi experiments of killing
    prisoners with X-rays, which are still shown (usually on an opt-in
    basis) to medical students.

  • Red_IdentityOctober 16, 2015Reply

    Very factly…

    This film is particularly surprising. It’s very interested in many of
    the facts of the real life obedience experiment. In fact, one could
    even argue that it seems to be very dry and non- climactic. The
    docudrama, of course, is restrained and doesn’t overdo anything with
    large dramatizations of events and beats. I can also very much see many
    people getting bored with it however. Saarsgard is really great,
    totally inhabiting and creating that version of Milgram. Glad to see
    Winona Ryder on the screen again. Overall, it is very subdued, but it
    is a great introduction to the experiment that really shows as much as
    we can learn about what motivates people to commit such crimes.

  • joehlmannOctober 17, 2015Reply

    You too can work at Auschwitz- unless your Dutch

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • elle_kittycaOctober 17, 2015Reply

    An okay biographical drama, not as good as Kinsey

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • ryn-06139October 18, 2015Reply

    My Wife Hated it I loved it.

    Yes, as many other reviewers have eluded, the movie can be a bit dry.
    My wife got lost in the message because she lost interest rather
    quickly. It wasn’t until I explained the message the movie was trying
    to convey that she seemingly became more interested.

    **spoiler** Watch it until the end, the message is rather powerful. I
    specifically liked the ending because (Sasha) Stanley’s wife allowed
    herself to fall in the same class when the nurse made her fill the
    paperwork while Stanley is having a heart attack. In this instance, I
    felt like I would have called BS and told the nurse to get a doctor
    ASAP, instead of calmly filling out the paperwork like she was doing.
    But then again, that’s exactly the message the movie was delivering,
    that we easily follow orders without question even against what we
    think is right.

  • Johan DondokambeyOctober 19, 2015Reply

    Very informative and uniquely presented

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • WoodBangers EntertainmentOctober 21, 2015Reply

    beautifully done

    The movie titled ”Experimenter (2015)” I feel was a great film. I loved
    the styling of the film most of all especially the green screen
    backdrops and how they offset the vibe of the view. The acting and the
    cast I believe were perfect for such a film and the story was very
    intriguing. I’ve saw various films based on human experiments and I
    believe this one was perfectly created. The educational standpoint or
    setting of where, when, and why was a great introduction and following
    through out the film. I enjoyed how it showed the mindset of humanity
    in its time frame being that I’m certain the results would in today’s
    time be even worse as humanity has devalued its beliefs, ethics, and
    life meanings.

    Very well put together film, and once again I cannot express how well
    the cast performed within such a film style. It was artistic, poetic,
    yet realistic; great stuff.

  • Roger MehusOctober 23, 2015Reply

    Is there a Biblical reference?

    Very interesting exploration of conformity and obedience. If you go
    mining for meaning, you can see a parallel to the Christian, Jewish and
    Islamic parable of Abraham and Isaac. You can identify Milgram with
    God, the tester with Abraham and the learner with Isaac. All three
    major religions respect and praise Abraham for his obedience to God.
    And yet, in real life, in the experiment, we criticize the tester for
    his lack of empathy, lack of concern, lack of ethics relative to the
    learner. Does the movie ask us to look at the parable and question the
    concept that Abraham passed the ”form” of the test of obedience, but
    failed God’s true ”function” of His test of Ethics?

  • Peter MidknightOctober 24, 2015Reply

    Fantastic

    This movie gave a great insight into human nature and so did the
    experiments. Yes it was a tad slow but it only felt like that to me
    after I had watched it. I was immediately drawn in by the whole setup
    of the experiment and with the progression of the rest of them. This
    won’t get anyone’s heart pumping or racing but nonetheless I was glued
    to the screen with what this movie was trying to show me. I was so
    fascinated by the whole idea of it, that putting up with any of the
    ‘slow’ parts seemed quite easy. If you’re in any way interested in
    human nature and how or why people could bring themselves to do certain
    things, you’ll definitely appreciate this film.

    I didn’t know anything about this man or his experiments but I always
    wondered about the very same things he did in regards to the tragedy’s
    he spoke of and others. How can people slaughter others or commit
    heinous acts, bring themselves to do these things and then simply claim
    they were only the messenger? I believe it’s definitely worth a watch
    to anyone.

  • Sidney Siobhan TothOctober 25, 2015Reply

    A whole lot of nothing…

    Am i the really the only one who didn’t liked It? Jesus this was just
    boring..nothing happens in this film and peter Sarsgaard is absolutely
    the wrong cast for this role. He is indeed a good actor..but this role
    just didn’t fit him…he is trying too hard to come off as a comfy
    intellectual man and his monotone way to speak is annoying… Naaah
    sorry, this film only got its high rating cause of the big names in the
    cast…and references to the holocaust is getting a little bit old..i
    was waiting for something to happen..and something indeed happened..i
    almost fell asleep…typically IMDb rating, doesn’t count how the film
    actually was..only names are important

  • idontdodrugsOctober 26, 2015Reply

    Surprisingly Accurate and Creative Retelling of the Most Important Experiment Ever Done

    This movie is about Stanley Milgram, arguably one of the most important
    social psychologists in our field, and specifically about one of his
    most important experiment – his obedience to authority experiment.

    The movie depicts to my knowledge accurately the setup, conduction, and
    results of the experiment and goes further, crafting an interesting and
    weighted portrayal of the man that Stanley Milgram was. The acting is
    low key, Peter Sarsgaard especially delivers a down to earth
    performance which shows that he rigorously prepared for the role. All
    supporting characters (e.g. Winona Ryder, Anton Yelchin) do a good job
    and no one distracts from the key issues raised by the experiment.

    Cinematography is good, although nothing special. Occasionally there
    are creative moments in direction. When the 4rth wall is broken by
    Sarsgaard and he speaks directly to the audience, weird things happen
    in the background, making these moments very endearing and interesting.

    There are no thrills or action in this movie, as well as no
    conventional drama. It is kind of a biopic with a twist, although I
    would say the biographic aspect is downplayed by the focus on this
    specific experiment. Many scientific issues are addressed on a side
    note (e.g. the ethical code of doing experiments, which triggered the
    proliferation of ethical committees for scientific research).

    I would recommend this movie to people who are interested in science,
    more specifically in psychology (but not exclusively), that do not need
    action, drama, or thrills and enjoy a well researched and crafted movie
    with good acting.

  • JogigoJNovember 4, 2015Reply

    Well crafted biography with a lot of take home messages

    I was very pleasantly surprised by the movie when I watched it during
    the Viennale 2015. As someone with a background in psychology and
    working in a related science field – I was afraid I would get bored
    easily by the movie as I was familiar with all the experiments
    presented.

    That was however not the case, a well crafted biography of a very
    influential career which was not centered on the career or the
    scientist but rather on the implications of his research and his
    experiments not only with regard to the past but more importantly to
    the future. It has it moments of dark humour which especially people in
    Academia will appreciate and it depicts Milgram in an honest way.
    Cinematography is solid and that’s it.

    Great to see that those important experiments can make it onto the
    screens and I would hope people do think about the vast symbolism in
    the movie and take home important life lessons. Knowing about the
    Milgram Experiment is not a reason why you would not watch that movie,
    that would be your first and probably biggest mistake.

  • eduardovmeloNovember 21, 2015Reply

    Excellent and informative.

    This a great piece of educational psychology, it brings a controversy
    to the surface. It is not boring as mentioned, it is the proper flow
    for the subject (academy is ”boring” by nature, not an action movie,
    sorry) I’m glad to see some good/obscure actors making it happen. If
    you are interested in the human mind, just go for it, This was
    Milgrim’s passion, he wanted to help with his research. This movie is a
    proper tribute to his work.

    If you want some ”action psychology”, watch the ”The Stanford Prison
    Experiment”(2015) which illustrates Dr. Phillip Zimbardo vision on
    social psychology. Peace out.

  • idsocolNovember 22, 2015Reply

    Not only boring, but also full of controversial stories

    The action of the movie is as slow as a turtle. It also has the
    ambition to be a factual movie, but it introduces controversial
    stories. The one about the girl hanged in a hook in a slaughter house
    has an unreliable source, while the events described were in fact a
    short fascist rebellion defeated by the Romanian army. Actually Romania
    was maybe the only Axis country refusing to allow deportation of Jews
    to German extermination camps, so the connection to the obedience
    experiment is rather inappropriate. I remained with the general
    impression of a movie full of clichés, but trying desperately to look
    original.

  • lemagicienbergierNovember 23, 2015Reply

    Great for introverts, without needles babbling

    Very nicely done, no needless words. Everything clear and straight.
    Ideal movie for someone that doesn’t need gibberish around the story so
    the movie would ended like the one which was described in this film:
    story of Stanley M. with William Shatner 🙂 plain facts, nicely served.
    Very pleasurable. Very nice colors, nice accuracy, i liked the cut to
    black and white theatrical mode. Cannot explain it, but understood it.
    The main character was cast very, very good. Absolutely believable
    performance of scientist. Liked also the storytelling by the main
    character. And wonder, what expected the other reviewers calling the
    movie boring?? Transformers crossbred with Inception and Gone with the
    wind?

  • londonmapperNovember 24, 2015Reply

    An excellent feel good film – a must for any person interested in psychology

    This film is NOT about the Milgram experiment ALONE (the one with
    shocks and the way we behave when prodded by a person in authority) –
    and that is what makes this film so interesting! The film is about
    Stanley Milgram the person. It only starts with his 1961 experiment
    (which occurred nearly around the same time as the Eichmann trials and
    Hannah Arendt’s writings and hence garnered even more interest). It
    then continues to show the travails that he passed, his life and how
    the experiment changed people’s perceptions towards him (some
    interesting reactions here – do watch it and be prepared for the
    surprises)! For such a popular experiment, there is a surprising lot
    that many of us (e for certain) may not have known – the film fills in
    that (large) gap.

    There is one big difference between this film and the similar 2015 film
    ”Stanford Prison Experiment” (which I also highly recommend) – This
    film has a far happier ending and hence makes it even more interesting
    from a cinematic perspective.

    Do watch this film – you will not regret it.

  • Tony Heck ([email protected])December 9, 2015Reply

    Not a movie for everyone, but anyone studying psychology will love this movie.

    ”How do civilized human beings participate in destructive inhumane
    acts?” Wanting to discover why humans do things that seem cruel and
    unusual to other humans psychologist Stanley Milgram (Sarsgaard) begins
    to conduct a series of social experiments. The more people he tests the
    more worried he becomes about the results, and about the fate of
    mankind. This is a very good movie, but not a movie for everyone. This
    movie is a little like the Masters of Sex TV show in the way that you
    watch an experiment being conducted and how the creator is treated. The
    movie is very interesting and having known very little about the real
    experiment it kept me interested and worried at the results as well.
    There is very little action in this and the movie for the most part is
    Saarsgaard talking to the audience and trying to explain his method,
    but I really thought it was interesting and I was surprised as to how
    much I enjoyed it. Overall, not a movie for everyone, but anyone
    studying psychology will love this movie. I give this a B.

  • crackpothead1January 6, 2016Reply

    related to movie

    I haven’t seen the film yet but read the description and recently heard
    a Radiolab podcast about scientist. In short most reviews of the
    experiment say that a majority of people will do bad things when they
    are just following orders though a closer examination of his
    experiments reveals just the opposite. It’s a little bit like the use
    of ‘the ugly American’. In the book of that title and where we get the
    expression from, the ‘ ugly American’ is actually a kind and helpful
    man who happens to be ugly but we have misappropriated the term to mean
    a rude American. I think his experiments actually reveal that many
    people are only willing to harm others if they feel it is for the
    greater good and that a closer analysis of the data shows that most
    don’t want to harm people even if they are ordered to. I’m looking
    forward to seeing how the film represents this.

    For those interested, it’s Radiolabs ‘the Bad Show’

    here’s a link http://www.radiolab.org/story/180092-the-bad-show/

  • alexanderchalkidisJanuary 6, 2016Reply

    OK if you don’t know the story

    There is absolutely nothing original about this film. At best it is a
    mediocre dramatized version of some experiments. It almost makes you
    wish you watched a BBC documentary about the events instead.

    Wynona Ryder is badly cast because you are always expecting her to do
    something more impressive or more sexy or more…well anything. The
    pseudo theatrical backdrops and Miligram talking to camera would have
    been original, maybe a hundred years ago.

    In all disappointing. Worse still, I am afraid that people not aware of
    the work of the real scientist it depicts will not even fully
    understand his other experiments which are very briefly described in
    passing.

    The proof of the complete lack of structure of this film is the ending
    of course. There was nothing to go on, the guy wasn’t Alan Turing or
    Jimi Hendrix, nothing dramatic to end with.

  • claudewsJanuary 7, 2016Reply

    Unique, original, straight forward

    I’m not a movie critic, but here’s my grain of salt.

    To me, not the typical movie. More of a ”docu-bio-movie”. Intelligent,
    but may be controversial for people that needs to hang onto their
    perception of themselves. I don’t.

    I liked the main character, his curiosity, his daring. His narrative,
    in some parts directed at the spectator (me), brought me closer to the
    person, and engaged me in his questioning.

    I see this movie as quite relevant in the actual time of mass
    marketing, mass disinformation, mass anything. Helped me acknowledge
    some of the human hidden parts in my own human nature.

    I enjoyed every bit of it.

  • planktonrulesJanuary 8, 2016Reply

    Amazing…but I am not sure how many others will think so as well…or even watch it in the first place.

    2015 was a very unusual year because two different movies debuted that
    were about famous (or perhaps infamous) studies that are discussed in
    practically every introductory psychology textbook published over the
    last three decades. After all, it’s not like there is a huge demand for
    this sort of thing and the market for such films is pretty limited.
    While I was not particularly impressed by ”The Stanford Prison
    Experiment”, ”Experimenter” is simply terrific and I was shocked by the
    wonderful writing and direction by Michael Almereyda. In fact, it’s so
    good and the style is so amazing that I think most everyone could enjoy
    and appreciate the film…if they end up seeing it, which isn’t very
    likely.

    I have a greater interest in this sort of film than most people because
    I taught psychology and used to be a psychotherapist. When I taught, I
    frequently talked about the ethics or ethical lapses of the Zimbardo
    Prison Study as well as the Milgram Obedience Study. But, as I said
    above, the way Almereyda wrote and designed the film make it a film for
    anyone…not just geeky ex-psychology teachers!

    ”Experimenter” begins with a graphic depiction of Milgram’s classic
    study. I was very surprised at the choice of actors, as Anthony Edwards
    (E.R.) and the stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan played subjects in this
    experiment…and they both were excellent. In Milgram’s experiment of
    the early 60s, there were two subjects–one a real subject and another
    who pretended to be one but who was actually working for the
    experimenter. The study was supposedly about learning methods and one
    subject was chosen to be the ‘educator’ and the other the
    ‘subject’–but this was rigged and the real subject was always the
    educator. The educator’s job was to read questions over a loud speaker
    to the subject in the next room. If the subject missed a question, the
    educator was instructed to administer an electric shock–and the
    intensity of the shocks increased throughout the experiment. The
    subject followed a script in which he eventually begins to complain
    about the pain of the shocks and even say that he wants to stop….yet
    the psychologist there in the room with the educator encourages them to
    continue. Amazingly, despite educators thinking they were causing
    significant pain, about 65% of them went all the way…even shocking
    the subject AFTER they stopped responding altogether!!

    The experiment’s true purpose was to demonstrate that the same sort of
    blind obedience to authority that the Nazis showed in the death camps
    and their willingness to follow rules still exists in societies today.
    Many praised his insightful and brilliant study, but many also
    criticized its methodology and thought the study was very unethical.
    This was also true in the Stanford Prison Experiment–yet, oddly, that
    film never really addressed concerns about ethics–which is why I found
    that film so disappointing. Fortunately, Experimenter did present both
    sides of the debate as well looked at Dr. Milgram as a
    person–something I never expected. To do this, they obtained the
    cooperation of the Milgram family t learn about the man. In fact, you
    can see the Professor’s widow and brother interviewed on the special
    features on the DVD and they seemed very happy with the film. This is
    interesting because Stanley Milgram is very flawed in the movie. He’s
    sometimes arrogant and smug and Almereyda did something very smart to
    help accentuate this. He had the actor playing Milgram, Peter
    Sarsgaard, occasionally turn to the camera and talk to the audience.
    This could have been awkward but really worked well in conveying
    Milgram’s personality as well as giving a much fuller story about the
    man and his life beyond his seminal study. You learn about some other
    brilliant work he did at Yale, Harvard and the City University of New
    York…as well as the continued criticism he received during his career
    and its impact on him. Overall, this is a magnificently written and
    directed film with some wonderful acting that really needs to be seen
    by a wider audience. The film barely got noticed in the theaters but
    now that the film is out on DVD with Netflix this week, there’s a
    chance for you to see a wonderfully crafted and engaging picture. Trust
    me on this one…you don’t need to be a psyc major to enjoy this film!

  • jtncsmistadJanuary 13, 2016Reply

    ”Experimenter”: What would you do?

    From thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com/

    As soon as Anthony Edwards and Jim Gaffigan strolled on screen together
    in the first few seconds of ”Experimenter”, I thought, ”BOY, am I gonna
    like this flick.” Regrettably, as this rudderless and oddly bland movie
    plodded along, I soon found myself saying, ”Boy, when is this torture
    ever gonna STOP?!”

    It’s not that the subject matter isn’t inherently interesting, and that
    the story, perhaps in hands other than those of Writer/Director Michael
    Almereyda, would have made for a film most compelling. It’s just that
    the narrative never created any emotional resonance nor reason to care
    about anybody involved for me.

    I found Peter Sarsgaard to be almost entirely unengaging as Stanley
    Milgram, the Ivy League researcher whose unconventional experiments
    with obedience and conformity generated considerable controversy in the
    1960’s. Milgram led paid (though we never learn how much) yet unwary
    test subjects to believe that they were delivering what they knew could
    be severely damaging electric shocks to a man they could not see
    (Gaffigan, a small ray of light in this otherwise hopelessly lost
    cause) simply because they were instructed to do so. Sounds intriguing,
    right? However, Sarsgaard’s performance is so limp and morose that not
    once was I inspired to neither like nor even admire him. His Milgram
    comes off as a thoroughly sad and emotionally stunted soul, completely
    incapable of meaningfully connecting with anyone, including his own
    family. It was nice to see Winona Ryder back at work again (at least I
    haven’t been aware of her in recent years) as Milgram’s wife Sasha.
    Ryder does what she can in the role, but is primarily relegated to
    tolerating a man who is as unreachable as he is enigmatic.

    Best not to consider conducting your own research into entertainment
    value as it pertains to ”Experimenter”. You’ll find, as did I,
    virtually none to speak of in it’s entirety.

    May I suggest more Edwards and Gaffigan next time?

    For more of my Movie Reviews categorized by Genre please visit:
    thequickflickcritic.blogspot.com/

  • hangallpoliticansJanuary 15, 2016Reply

    one of worst films ever made

    total utter waste of time, this is so flat and boring i am just shocked
    anyone read this script and thought it was useful for anything but
    wiping the arse with. avoid this pile of crap at all costs

    you can not possibly of seen a more boring film in your entire life.

    i hate it so much that ill never watch a film again with any of the
    stars of this junk, they clearly are at the bottom of their careers

    this is not a film its a punishment inflicted on your brain, do not
    watch it please.

    the cure for insomnia has been found, just watch this film !

    any one that gave this more than 3 out of 10 has no taste in films
    and/or is a crew member.

  • LeonLouisRicciJanuary 22, 2016Reply

    Playful, Artsy, Yet Super-Serious Study of a Controversial Academic Study

    Science and Psychology in Academia and Art are not usually Associated.
    But that didn’t stop Director Almereyda Painting a Canvas of the
    Surreal and Expressionistic in telling the Story of the Real-Life
    Professor Peter Milgram and His now Famous and Controversial, early
    Sixties ‘Experiments” and Study.

    What has become Infamous as the ”Shock Study” has its Detractors but
    over Time, as the initial ”Shock” of the Methods and the Results were
    Contemplated and Peer Reviewed, are now mostly Accepted as Valid and
    Repeatable.

    The Film is Straight-Forward about the Study, the Man, and the
    Repercussions He endured. Verbally, the Script is Played out in
    typical, Dry, Academics. But the Director Unleashes many Bizarre
    Backdrops and Heightens the Reality to Absurdity to give the Film a
    Pleasant, Dreamy, Subconscious Feel as the Textbook Stuff is Explained.

    Many well Known and A-List Actors show up throughout the Film for a
    Scene or two and add some Weight to the already Heavy Subject, but it
    is the Whimsy of the Wrapping that keeps things Digestible for the
    Non-Eggheads.

    In Other Words, it is made to Entertain as well as Inform. Off-Beat and
    Self-Conscious, Playful, yet Ultra-Serious, Peter Sarsgaard and Winona
    Ryder lead this Lecture that Touches on many of the Controversial,
    Historical outcomes of the Professor’s Work that is still being Studied
    to this Day.

  • Adam_West_as_BatdanJanuary 23, 2016Reply

    Was the movie an experiment in itself to see if the audience would fall asleep watching it?

    Because let’s face it, the movie isn’t all that exciting.

    Okay, I’ve seen more boring movies in my days and for the record I did
    expect a psychological experiment gone wrong type of movie like The
    Experiment (2010) which I liked.

    But this is really not that type of movie, perhaps I should have
    realised that by the name alone ‘Experimenter (2015)’ is more about the
    experimenter than the experiments he conducts, and the participants of
    these experiments are merely in it for a little while.

    That means that most famous names like John Leguizamo, Anthony Edwards
    and Vondie Curtis Hall etc are only in it for one scene each.

    That said, Peter Saarsgard pulls a good performance as the lead but
    after 30 minutes when the first experiment is said and done it just
    gets flat out boring, with him explaining why he did the experiment and
    why it wasn’t morally wrong etc etc and conducting new (less
    interesting) experiments like chain-letters etc.

    One thing that is good I guess is that it’s probably extremely accurate
    to what really happened (which in actuality wasn’t all that much).

    Peter Saarsgard’s character often speak directly into the camera to
    share his thesises and thoughts which made me wonder why they didn’t
    just make a documentary instead, with just re-enactments for certain
    scenes.

    I imagine people who study psychology and want to become researchers in
    the field can find it a bit useful but for the average Joe I don’t
    think there’s much to take away from this movie.

  • Nicole CJanuary 25, 2016Reply

    Disappointing

    This film was very well cast, and everyone played their parts
    convincingly. The presence of the characters really broke through the
    screen. Sarsgaard plays Milgram exceptionally well, and the make-up
    helps with the different styles as time shifted. The directing and
    writing along with the acting helps to bring Milgram’s personality to
    life. Ryder as Sasha also plays quite a crucial part, and is well
    liked. Manning looks very different from where I know her (Orange is
    the New Black) but she played her character good enough.

    What really irked me was the breaking of the fourth wall. I kind of get
    that it was to engage the audience into the life of Milgram as if he
    were actually talking to us, but it was just too jarring. It felt corny
    and actually disengaged me from the story itself. Also, the addition of
    the elephant is interesting….though I am not sure I get the meaning
    behind it. Who or what is the elephant in the room? The elephant itself
    perhaps?

    Anyway, I did like the settings and costumes in the film. It really
    felt like I was watching a biopic with the style of the clothes
    constantly changing. The experiments themselves are well explained and
    I enjoyed the graphics that came along with the descriptions. However,
    there are numerous settings in which there is a very obvious green
    screen in the backdrop and that just adds to the disengagement effect.

    Overall, I liked how the story was presented and explained, but really
    did not enjoy the breaking of the fourth wall or the obvious green
    screens. Perhaps I am too used to contemporary movies, but I feel like
    this film could have been so much better. (Also, all three of my
    friends fell asleep at one point or another during the movie).

  • sideriteJanuary 26, 2016Reply

    Feels a bit like a play, but very good movie

    The film describes the psychological experiments performed by Milgram,
    as seen by him. Often breaking the fourth wall, it not only shows what
    went on, but also how Milgram reacts to what happens.

    Now famous and quoted to no end, the Milgram obedience experiments take
    the main focus, but not the entire film. His wife, his friends, their
    discussions and the public reaction to his revelations are all
    included. No wonder that when he demonstrated the evil that lies in us
    all, the world took great pleasure in criticizing his experiments and
    morals, rather than acquiesce to the experimental results.

    I really liked Peter Sarsgaard in the role of Milgram. He captured
    perfectly the soft spoken Jewish scholar motivated, as you might
    expect, to understand why people can do so much harm and continue to be
    normal.

    Many actors that I have seen before, without them being celebrities,
    participated in the movie. While the subject was interesting and movie
    approach interesting, it felt a little too much like a play. It appeals
    to the intellectual more than to the emotional. It doesn’t
    sensationalize the results, it doesn’t point the finger, it even
    criticizes that approach directly in the film.

    In the end, what was important to Milgram – and should be to you, the
    film seems to imply – was revealing more of human nature, understanding
    it, in order to make it better. Of course, that is what he asserted the
    intention to be: make it better, not use it for own purposes. He was an
    optimist.

  • James GillilandJanuary 26, 2016Reply

    Good, but felt more like a stage play than a film

    The main character, Stanley, spends a significant portion of the the
    film in monologue to the camera, and it can be sometimes confusing
    whether what he is saying is supposed to be heard by the other
    characters. This made it feel like they had taken a stage play script
    and just filmed it with no considerations for what better techniques
    are available in the film medium, such as narration or an inner
    monologue recorded after the fact.

    Some of the backdrops in a couple of scenes were completely ridiculous,
    with no apparent reasoning. Other scenes had very cheap/lazy backdrops,
    that while quite obviously intentionally bad for reasons unknown, made
    it seem like their compositing budget had suddenly run out or something
    and they were trying to hide it by being ”arty”.

  • Kevin Lea DaviesJanuary 26, 2016Reply

    Well acted, seemed like an experiment in film at times.

    I am a completely ignorant of Stanley Milgram’s and his work, I wasn’t
    really sure what I was getting into when I picked this movie last night
    outside of knowing it was a biopic. I actually watched this film with
    friends and we were found ourselves talking about it long afterwards.

    Peter Sarsgaard, does very well portraying the somewhat dispassionate
    and yet intelligent Milgram. There is a deep intelligence in this man,
    and a yearning to understand why we act the way we do when authority is
    imposed on ourselves, yet there is a severe emotional disconnect
    between implementing his experiments and discussing the fruits of his
    labor. When describing and explaining his work, he certainly does so in
    a very straightforward manner, but what the results say much about us
    as individuals and as a society. They certainly are noteworthy and it
    explains why he became such a noteworthy person in media and in the
    psychiatric world. Winona Ryder plays his loyal and supportive wife,
    who although may question his methods at times, certainly stands by his
    side throughout the events in this film. Several notable actors portray
    colleagues, participants, and other persons of interest throughout the
    film and add real talent and depth in the cast.

    There were some film experiments going on in the film itself, in terms
    of direction and visual representation of ideas. Milgram directly
    addresses the audience at times, breaking the rules of the ‘4th wall’
    by acknowledging you directly at the beginning of the film. At other
    times he breaks mid scene to address you again. There is a visual
    representation of the ‘elephant in the room’ when he discusses
    difficult topics that explain some of his more controversial methods
    during the early 60’s. A flat 2 dimensional backdrop was used when
    visiting his old colleague and mentor, perhaps to represent a dull and
    somewhat awkward afternoon tea with someone he may have actually
    despised. Some of these methods were interesting, but most felt like a
    juxtaposition for the rest of the movie that was filmed in a much more
    typical manner.

    The questions raised by Migram’s experiments are important ones. Why do
    we blindly follow orders? When do we take responsibility for our own
    actions? What percentage of people will say no and stand up to
    authority? His work had a common theme about human nature, and the
    results of which are somewhat disturbing and controversial to
    understand. They often display a dispassionate and often cruel side of
    ourselves, and that can be the most difficult answer to recognize.

    An interesting film and worth your time if you are curious about his
    life and works.

    6/10

  • roxannedunphyFebruary 17, 2016Reply

    Extremely well done, intelligent telling of Milgram’s experiments…

    A very well done, intelligent telling of the obedience experiments of
    Stanley Milgram, how the work was received through the years, how it
    affected his life.

    It had a wonderful surreal quality which in no way affected my
    suspension of disbelief, and I was fascinated and rapt throughout. It
    was subtle, not in-your-face, which is always refreshing in America,
    but it hooked the viewer right away, nevertheless.

    I am so glad someone cared enough about this aspect of human behavior
    to make this film, to attempt to keep it in our awareness.

    I accidentally found it on Netflix. Had never heard of it, and don’t
    know (haven’t looked yet) what kind of reception it had. I wouldn’t
    wonder if it had been similar to the experiments themselves. People
    don’t want to look at themselves in this light.

    The acting was wonderful, as was the script.

    I have to ask, why, here on IMDb, were Taryn Manning and Winona Ryder
    credited above Peter Sarsgaard, who was the key player and who clearly
    carried the film. Is it related to ”newsworthiness?”

    I will watch it again.

  • rjarangoFebruary 17, 2016Reply

    the elephant in the room

    Great movie. I haven’t read all the reviews, so I don’t know if this
    was covered other than indirectly–These experiments were done before
    the wide spread use of review boards. The discussions of the faculty
    did bring up the issue of ethical experiments, and I would suggest the
    elephant in the room refers, among other things, to the ethical issues
    surrounding the experiment itself. I think the film covers a very wide
    range of issues from those of obedience: the experiment itself–but a
    range of other issues surrounding experiments involving human subjects.
    The Prison experiments were mentioned, but the Tuskegee experiments,
    back in the 1930s, raised the issue of ethics in experimentation long
    before Milgram’s experiments. That said, it is certainly worth watching
    on any level.

  • wcw43921February 18, 2016Reply

    I enjoyed this movie a great deal

    If you saw this movie in the theaters, I envy you.

    The drama is quite low-key in this movie. Peter Saarsgard as Milgram
    narrates the movie, talking directly to the viewer, always very
    serious, very methodical. It begins with the origin of the obedience
    experiments in the very early Sixties. Milgram watches the subjects
    carefully, taking detailed, concise notes as they progress through the
    experiment, pulling one switch after the other until they reach the
    end. We are informed that over sixty-five percent of the subjects went
    all the way to the last switch, against all the predictions made by the
    psychologists he consulted.

    The movie follows him through his life, as the obedience experiments
    gain public knowledge. He tells us of his relationship with his old
    professor Solomon E. Asch, whose conformity experiments originally
    inspired the obedience experiments. We also follow his relationship
    with his wife Alexandra, aka Sasha, with Winona Ryder doing an
    excellent job in the role. They meet in an elevator while on their way
    to the same party, and the friendship blossoms into a lifetime romance.
    (The real Alexandra Milgram was a consultant for this movie–she
    appears in a cameo at the end.) We see him defending the experiments to
    his colleagues, his students, and then to the public at large once his
    book Obedience To Authority is published. And while people may argue
    about the methodology and the deception involved–which Milgram refers
    to as ”illusion”–very few argue with the results.

    The movie also covers a number of Milgram’s other experiments, such as
    the Lost Letters and Familiar Stranger experiments. We follow his
    career as he is denied tenure at Harvard, then takes a professorship at
    City University of New York. There he is approached by a producer who
    wants to make a high-end drama about the experiments–this becomes the
    TV movie The Tenth Level. Milgram is not impressed–as he says in the
    movie:

    ”There are times when your life resembles a bad movie, but nothing
    prepares you if your life actually becomes a bad movie.”

    The movie contains a good deal of symbolism–in two scenes where
    Milgram talks about the obedience experiments, he is followed by an
    elephant–The Elephant In The Room. (That’s how she’s billed in the
    closing credits. Her name is Minnie, by the way.) And at various points
    in the movie we hear the song ”Some Enchanted Evening”–I’m afraid I’m
    not sure what it represents; someone shall have to explain it to me,
    please. It opens with a quote from the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard–

    ”Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

    and includes Milgram’s own paraphrased words–

    ”You could say we’re puppets, but I believe that we are puppets with
    perception, with awareness. Sometimes we can see the strings and,
    perhaps, our awareness is the first step in our liberation.”

  • pazu7February 28, 2016Reply

    Stop gazing at your navel and we might hear you better.

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • Tom DooleyMarch 2, 2016Reply

    Biopic of the man who wanted to know why we are obedient.

    Peter Sarsgaard (‘Black Mass and ‘The Killing’)stars as Professor
    Stanley Milgram who conducted a range of experiments as a social
    psychologist. His most famous/notorious were his ‘obedience tests’. He
    conducted these using volunteers who were told to electrocute a
    stranger if they answered any pre set question wrong in a controlled
    environment. The doses increased as the test progressed. His wife is
    played by the wonderful Winona Ryder.

    His results caused him both fame and derision and he is still used and
    cited widely today. The film follows the life of Milgram, his family
    and marriage and some of his personal acquaintances. Sarsgaard, as
    ever, is excellent and convincing but there are some filmatic
    techniques that were a bit odd. There is deliberate use of fake
    backgrounds – as if it were a play – in some of the scenes. There is
    also the use of an Indian elephant for two corridor scenes which is
    left totally unreferenced!?

    This could be the elephant in the room has already escaped and is
    amongst us? I do not know but it is a great centre piece to get you
    thinking. And that is what this film is really about – challenging and
    questioning our ideas and ideals about who we are and how we would act
    if confronted with the self same situations. He called it the ‘agentic
    state’ whereby we say ‘we were just following orders’, or ‘it’s the
    law’ or worse ‘I was told to do it’. I find this sort of discussion
    fascinating and there is much more here in this film about Milgram’s
    work. One I really enjoyed and feel easy to recommend even with the
    elephant.

  • Laura CooskeyMarch 8, 2016Reply

    And the elephant in the room is…

    Trump. Note the timing of this movie, which questions how far people
    will go, if pushed by perceived authority and by the herd instinct, in
    persecuting or harming others. The references to Milgram’s personal
    interest in the Holocaust bring us right up to date with our concerns
    about Trump (or, more exactly, the Trump-support groundswell). The
    questions become ever more crucial–why do people do things against
    their own morals and their own interests, and what can we do to prevent
    it? Eighty years after Nazi Germany was converting a population of
    normal people like you and me into murderous, hateful, hypocritical
    savages, we are watching another demagogue kick up the same trouble.
    The fact that the reminder of the film’s political relevance (an
    elephant following Milgram around) is the very symbol of the party
    being perverted by Trump, is an amusing touch.

  • leonblackwoodMarch 19, 2016Reply

    Great concept with unique directing! 6/10

    Review: I really found this movie interesting and somewhat, intriguing.
    I didn’t really see the point of the experiment when it first started
    but once Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) started to explain exactly
    what he was trying to achieve, it did light a light bulb in my head.
    Its one of those films were there isn’t an conclusion or a reason why
    people do what they do, which made the concept very debatable.
    Basically, in 1961, Stanley Milgram created a test were a person would
    ask another person various questions, and if they got them wrong, they
    would get an electric shock. The electric shock would increase every
    time the question was answered wrong, so the real test is; do you give
    them the electric shock if you know that you are causing the individual
    pain. If you ask anyone, they would say that wouldn’t have given the
    electric shock but the statistics are quite shocking. I personally
    think that a lot of the people giving the shocks, felt that they had to
    go ahead with the treatment because they were getting paid but that
    just my personal opinion. The fact the the person in the other room was
    actually an actor and he wasn’t receiving any shocks at all, makes the
    treatment very interesting and extremely deceptive. All the way through
    his life, Stanley Milgram was questioned about his tactics and
    outrageous results from the test, so he had to prove, numerous times,
    what he was trying to achieve. With that aside, the performances were
    great from Sarsgaard and his wife, Alexandra ‘Sasha’ Milgram, whose was
    played by Winona Ryder. I liked the way that Stanley was talking to the
    camera to explain certain matters and it’s the first film were I have
    seen the director using the real black and white background to show how
    the real environment was. Anyway, I was thoroughly entertained
    throughout the movie but I personally think that the experiments should
    have taken place throughout the movie because the different people’s
    reactions were what made the concept so great. Enjoyable!

    Round-Up: Although the cast seems quite big, most of the actors are
    only in a couple of the scenes during the test. It was  good to see the
    personal side of Stanley Milgram but you don’t really get to know, what
    exactly is going on in his head. He seemed to glide through life in a
    world of his own but the director did show how important his wife and
    kids were in his life. Anyway, this movie was directed by Michael
    Almereyda, who brought you the awful Cymbeline (Anarchy: Ride or Die),
    Nadja, another version of Hamlet and Happy Here & Now. He hasn’t got a
    great track record in the directing chair, which is why this movie
    didn’t make any noise in Hollywood but it’s still an interesting topic
    which was worth bringing to light. 

    I recommend this movie to people who are into their
    biography/history/dramas starring John Palladino, Peter Sarsgaard.
    Winona Ryder. Anthony Edwards, Jim Gaffigan, John Leguizamo, Anton
    Yelchin and Harley Ware. 6/10

  • Anirban SantraApril 9, 2016Reply

    Every man is a moon and has a darker side

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • MarcoLaraApril 23, 2016Reply

    A bit boring at times, but worth watching if you are interested in how your mind works

    I saw thing movie before I ever watched it, because I am very familiar
    with the work of Dr. Stanley Milgram. The actors were well chosen and
    some of the dialogs during the experiments are basically verbatim to
    what happened in real life. So kudos on that regard.

    But then there is that part that I completely missed and the movie
    brought it to life, and is the struggle or Dr. Milgram to perform his
    experiments and defend them in a society were we prefer to believe that
    we are the heroes in our own movies playing in our heads and the heads
    of the ones we socialize with. Dr. Milgram opened a window into who we
    really are and how easily we are wiling to cancel our better judgement.
    This is where this movie shines and this is why this movie is worth
    watching. And, if you have never heard of Dr. Milgram, then you will
    really enjoy this movie for his incredibly interesting experiments.

    Unfortunately, this movie runs a bit longer that it needed be. As this
    is not an action movie and there is little romance in it, and specially
    if you are familiar with Dr. Milgram’s experiments, you will feel that
    the movie is boring. I felt that at times, and I wished for the movie
    to be some 20 minutes shorter.

    Still, it is a great movie, both for people familiar and unfamiliar
    with Dr. Milgram and his experiments. Note of caution, though: You may
    find there something about yourself that you may not like.

  • E Tayfun ArliApril 29, 2016Reply

    It should be shown in every secondary school as part of curriculum

    It would have been great to end the movie with clips from Vietnam, Nazi
    camps, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Syria now, and many other atrocities around
    the world where sick leaders use this exact flow in human nature to get
    them commit horrible crimes. Film itself; Peter Sarsgaard is great as
    he is in every movie he is in, it is a good come back (hopefully it is
    come back) for Winona Ryder who is another great actor. The other
    characters in the movie are incredibly well cast and bring good reality
    to the decades the story has passed. I particularly love the scene with
    lawyers who argue about the experiment, fantastic faces and
    expressions.

  • Reno RanganMay 23, 2016Reply

    A tale of the man who gave a breakthrough in the human psychology.

    A movie about the experiments on the human behaviour and for us,
    there’s nothing in it but to study those characters along. This is more
    a documentary than the cheerful characters and the story with a twist.
    So forget it if you are looking for an entertainment film.

    Based on the true story of an American social psychologist Stanley
    Milgram. The film narrates the story of his controversial experiments
    and personal life that takes us back to the 60s. Not all the
    discoveries were accepted in its first revelation. Sometimes it takes
    time to realise its benefits like perhaps this one.

    The film was boring because it was a drama about an important turning
    point in the human psychology. So all the major parts of the story were
    just talking and it never required physical stretch from its characters
    like running and chasing around. If you’re interested in psychology and
    its related stuffs, then you might like it.

    Besides, the romance was a small part of what the film was focused on
    as its title mentioned. It does not mean I dislike it for not enjoying.
    In fact, I would have rated it better only if it was a documentary
    film. But still I’m happy with the product. Overall a decent film with
    the decent performances.

    6/10

  • MouldyMay 24, 2016Reply

    Thought Provoking Film

    I remembered reading about Stanley Milgram’s controversial ‘shock
    experiments’ a while ago so was interested in watching this movie when
    it appeared on my Amazon Prime account.

    Peter Sarsgaard’s lazy portrayal of Milgram is both fascinating and
    annoying. Whilst he is successful in making you believe he was Milgram
    I felt there was something lacking in his performance of a man who was
    driven in everything he did in real life by the horrors of the
    Holocaust. Even when confronted by a team of professionals to justify
    his experiments Sarsgaard’s laidback style dilutes what should have
    been a moment in the film when you get to the heart of Milgram and what
    drove him on to do the work that he did.

    Michael Almereyda’s device of having Sarsgaard (as Milgram) constantly
    interrupting the flow of the film by talking to the audience is novel
    at first but mildly irritating towards the end.

    Winona Ryder holds up her own as Milgram’s wife. However, her character
    pretty much remains in the background – other than when she is called
    out by one of Milgram’s students who tries to imply that Milgram’s
    experiments are more to do with control, and controlling those around
    him, than a genuine scientific interest in human nature.

    The story itself is a fascinating one, however, and whilst the main
    actors are a bit watery/laidback, I think it will leave you wondering
    about yourself, individually, and the fundamental nature of the human
    race.

    PS : If you enjoyed this film, I would also recommend Craig Zobel’s
    ‘Compliance’.

  • sol-June 5, 2016Reply

    Compliance

    Less a biopic of Stanley Milgram and more a reenactment of his
    behaviour experiments in the 1960s and a look at the controversy they
    sparked, ‘Experimenter’ offers a fascinatingly detailed account of
    contemporary history while also raising several intriguing questions
    about the way we as human beings function. It is quite a stylish film
    too and while some of the stylistic touches (green screen backgrounds;
    wandering elephants) offer more of a distraction than enhancement,
    Bryan Senti’s music score is appropriately creepy and the film utilises
    a technique in which Milgram (played by Peter Sarsgaard) speaks to the
    audience to very good effect. While the film skims over Milgram’s
    background and simplifies his interest in psychology to a fascination
    with Nazi control, we get an excellent insight into how Milgram
    constantly feels along the way with the ethics of his research put
    under the microscope. Sarsgaard is very good too, ageing a fair bit
    during the course of the film, and the distinct dearth of non-work
    scenes feels very much on point as we get the sense that Milgram was a
    man married to his work. The film also uses some dark humour to
    highlight the arguable detriments of dedicating one’s every waking hour
    to one’s work. In a memorable scene, a bunch of Milgram’s student react
    nonchalantly to his announcement of the 1963 Kennedy assassination, not
    believing him for a second and instead trying to work out what reaction
    what Milgram must be looking for with the declaration of such news. It
    is a relevant point too; while ethical dilemmas exist when subjects do
    not realise that they are being experimented on, can behaviour ever
    really be analysed if participants on the flipside believe or know they
    are being experimented on?

  • gavin6942June 21, 2016Reply

    Very, Very Good, Just Shy of Oscar-Worthy

    In 1961, famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a series
    of radical behavior experiments that tested ordinary humans willingness
    to obey authority.

    Although Almereyda was aware of Milgram’s work, it wasn’t until his
    girlfriend began taking a class on him that Almereyda became
    interested. Subsequently, the director found himself reading Milgram’s
    ”Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View”. According to Almereyda
    once he started reading, he ”instantly saw how filmable it was”
    becoming increasingly interested in making it into a film the more he
    went on.

    I am fairly knowledgeable on Milgram’s work. Through both philosophy
    classes and psychology classes, I have read his book and watched the
    original film of the obedience experiment (which bears a great many
    similarities to the film here). I love how they went beyond that and
    explored his other experiments and what they saw about humanity. And I
    had no idea that Shatner had appeared in yet another film version
    (making this movie sort of meta in a way).

  • JvH48July 7, 2016Reply

    Well-made semi-documentary about Milgram’s famous obedience experiments.

    This semi-documentary about Milgram’s famous obedience experiments
    succeeds very well in its prime purpose to show the average layman what
    these experiments were all about and how they were actually performed.
    We see it all happening with our own eyes, in a clean laboratory-like
    environment with tape recorders all around, and witnesses (sometimes
    behind glass, other times in plain view) who record everything
    noteworthy as inherent part of the proceedings. When behind glass they
    proved very useful to throw some comments in our direction. On average,
    a consistent 65% of volunteers went to the end with lethal voltages
    administered, in spite of cries of pain and other alarming noises from
    the receiving side. These experiments are repeated with hundreds of
    volunteers of various backgrounds, races and sexes. Actual numbers may
    vary, but the 65% rule of thumb remains unchallenged.

    As a side benefit, Milgram’s family life is included too. We see how he
    met his wife, and we see two children appear later on. The role of his
    wife is to add some elements potentially considered by the ideal
    viewer, like how women would behave in these experiments. After this
    suggestion is honored we see that it really makes no difference in the
    statistical outcome. The participation of his wife may attract people
    who avoid boring documentaries as a rule, and I think that it was a
    good idea to give her a visible role in the script to make it
    acceptable for a broader audience.

    Also adding a bit to the context where the above happened, is that we
    see fragments of Eichmann’s trial shown on TV, that being a
    contemporary issue at the time (1961). We see and hear part of
    Eichmann’s statement where he explicitly says that he was only
    following orders, and that everything he did was backed by his
    superiors. The link is obvious, and it may explain a lot of the hoopla
    around the publication of Milgram’s experiments.

    Main protagonists in the experiment in the form of a role play are a
    ”pupil” and a ”teacher”, the latter asking questions and punishing each
    wrong answer with electric shocks of increasing strength. Unnoticed by
    the teacher is that the pupil role is in fact played by a tape
    recorder, producing the actual cries of pain and requests for help. We
    also see that teacher and pupil shake hands afterwards, demonstrating
    that no one was actually severely wounded in the proceedings. The
    teacher assumes that the real purpose of the experiment lies in
    studying the pupil who has to learn under duress. But we know that the
    teacher actually has the main role in the play, while finding out how
    far someone will go in administering pain to the pupil on every wrong
    answer. The real pressure is actually coming from the laboratory-coated
    authority figure behind the teacher’s back, who states to assume all
    responsibility and insists that the experiment is completed in full.

    At first I was wondering about the many scenes where Milgram speaks
    directly to us, the viewers, even during a social visit to a colleague
    (with respective wives), where he detaches himself from the
    conversation every now and then to make a point directly to us. It took
    some time to get used to this approach. In hindsight I prefer it very
    much above the traditional wise-crack voice-over that has become a
    nuisance in almost any documentary. There were two instances where
    Milgram was followed by an elephant while he spoke to us, peculiarly
    unnoticed by the others who walked around. I assume it refers to the
    proverbial ”while elephant in the room”, something that will be missed
    by viewers who are not well versed in the English language. Anyway, we
    get ample chance to hear Milgram explain that he himself was surprised
    by the results.

    The dramatized semi-documentary format serves its purpose, and succeeds
    very well in providing an overview of all arguments pro and con about
    these experiments, especially the controversial and thought provoking
    ones. Precisely this aspect is very important in my opinion, as it
    prevents our own objections from becoming manifest, most of these
    caused by lack of knowledge about the real circumstances and the real
    objectives of Milgram’s experiments. As an illustration, we see other
    psychological experiments carried out, like people within a crowd
    staring above while we observe most bystanders following the example in
    spite of nothing interesting to see. We see another experiment in an
    elevator, where people feel uneasy when all others look in an opposite
    direction, and we see them inventing excuses to change their position
    to comply with the rest. On the other hand, some of the experiments
    failed in spite of their good intentions. As mentioned by Milgram
    himself on one occasion ”Not all my ideas are brilliant”. Nevertheless,
    the other experiments shown were all very interesting and new to me,
    but none was world shaking and none would ever arouse the level of
    controversy that his famous obedience experiments did.

  • room102 ([email protected])July 23, 2016Reply

    Better watch the footage from the actual experiment

    The movie tells the story of the (in)famous Milgram’s experiment, a
    fascinating study of human behavior and how easy it is to influence
    people to do what you want – even horrible things – when you’re in a
    position they perceive as commanding (which may help explain the
    behavior of the Nazis in WWII).

    It’s a pretty accurate recreation of the experiment and its outcome,
    but films like this (e.g.: The numerous films made about the Stanford
    prison experiment) raise the question: why watch a recreation when you
    can watch the REAL thing on YouTube?

    For some odd reason the director chooses, at random occasions, to break
    the 4th wall or use obvious old B&W rear-screen shots at random places.
    Very strange decision that throws you out of the movie and seems
    totally out of place.

    The first half of the movie is OK, but then it loses some of the focus.

    Better watch the footage from the actual experiment if you haven’t seen
    it yet.

  • runamokprodsAugust 15, 2016Reply

    Challenging, thought-provoking and intelligent

    Intelligent, challenging, semi-experimental view of psychological
    scientist Stanley Milgram and his seminal early 60s experiment that
    proved most people would follow orders that went against all they
    believe in – and caused them great personal stress – even to the point
    of believing they were causing bodily harm or death, if they felt it
    was expected of them and they wouldn’t be blamed.

    Almereyda, long one of our bravest and least conventional film-makers,
    uses his tendencies to break from traditional storytelling to his
    advantage here. He breaks our usual illusion of ‘reality’ in a movie
    with black and white projections as parts of sets, the main character
    addressing the camera, sometimes about events that haven’t happened
    yet, and even a (very funny) literal ‘elephant in the room’. These
    playful, Brechtian devices distance us and keep us from emotionally
    getting lost in the story in the way a traditional Hollywood bio-pic
    would have us do. But it serves to heighten key intellectual questions
    about Milgram and his work – which also manipulated reality, and
    implied a certain artificial distancing between Milgram and the human
    race.

    Like a film, Milgram’s experiment manipulated people, told them
    stories, to get them to react a certain way, and Almereyda makes us
    ponder a lot of these uneasy connections between art and science.

    Not all of these cinematic gambits work, and sometimes ideas get
    repeated beyond effectiveness. But I’ll take this kind of fresh,
    jarring approach to looking at a man and the ideas his work over a
    traditional, shallower Hollywood approach any day.

  • imaammianAugust 16, 2016Reply

    This Movie Absolutely Sucks

    This movie was a miserable attempt to create a movie that was based on
    a true story that occurred in 1961.Stanley Milgram’s character was
    portrayed in a neutral manner that causes the audience to lose
    interest. In this movie we make an inference that Stanley’s experiments
    are all conducted in a safe environment with the 1976 conduction
    agreement of fair testing. Michael Almereyda, writer and director of
    the most catastrophic movie in cinematic history,failed to create an
    enjoyable movie for the desired audience.This movie is not one for the
    kids failing to grab the attention of the Audience. I wholeheartedly
    believe that this incompetent movie is Great to your child to
    sleep,within the time you can blink your eyes your child will be fast
    asleep.In conclusion, I strongly believe that this movie should be
    exterminated from the face of the earth. If any assistance is required
    please call bobs bugs be gone.

  • brando647October 2, 2016Reply

    Interesting, if Odd, Piece on Famed Psychologist Stanley Milgram

    I have loved psychology since high school and often wish I had pursued
    a career in the field, but I didn’t so I have to get my fix elsewhere.
    We were lucky to have received two movies focused on the subject of
    famous psychological experiments last year (EXPERIMENTER and THE
    STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT) and, while I was more interested in a
    dramatization of the Stanford experiment, my local stores only carried
    the other. EXPERIMENTER is a strange little docudrama that details the
    work of Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard), most prominently his
    experiment on obedience. For those unfamiliar, the subject of the
    experiment would act as the ”teacher” and ask a series of memory
    questions to the ”student”. Interacting in separate rooms via a one-way
    intercom, the teacher would be commanded to shock the student with
    increasing voltage for every wrong answer until the student (a member
    of Milgram’s team) is heard grunting in pain, demanding the experiment
    be halted, and eventually goes silent. Milgram’s goal was to see how
    many people would continue the experiment knowing they are causing pain
    to an innocent subject and how far people would allow the voltage to
    climb before refusing to continue. The results of his experiment were
    considered shocking and the whole event remains controversial;
    EXPERIMENTER delves into Milgram’s views on the importance of the
    results, the question of whether his experiment was ethically sound,
    and how this one experiment continued to resonate throughout his career
    until his eventual death late in 1984.

    EXPERIMENTER is a film for a niche audience and I can see most people
    either bored or put off by director Michael Almereyda’s creative
    choices. Psychology is a hard topic to make too exciting. Interesting,
    sure, but not exciting. The most drama you find in the film comes from
    the negative reactions to Milgram’s experiment. We’re treated to a trio
    of women being given the chance to confront Milgram after the fact
    where they can voice the psychological concerns of participants
    deceived into thinking they are harming another human being, and we see
    Milgram lose out on tenure at Harvard because the professional world
    didn’t respond much better to what his experiment said on human nature.
    For me, all that was the interesting stuff. About halfway through the
    movie, we shift gears to focus on some of Milgram’s other, less
    controversial experiments. It’s all mildly interesting and serves to
    show that Milgram wasn’t completely about exposing mankind’s less
    popular features but I was hoping we’d get more drama from the
    obedience experiment and the aftermath. I suppose there might not have
    been enough material for such interesting dramatic piece and maybe we
    got a glimpse at the worst of it. We did get a fun visit with Milgram
    to the set of the TV movie ”The Tenth Level” where William Shatner
    (Kellan Lutz) and Ossie Davis (Dennis Haysbert) are recreating the
    experiment in true ’70s cheese fashion. It’s all somewhat intriguing
    but the movie does lose a lot of steam.

    Apparently some elements of Almereyda’s film were met with laughter
    when touring the festival circuit. You see, he’s incorporated some
    weird visual elements that feel completely out of place. It all starts
    when we see Milgram’s first monologue to the audience as he walks down
    the hall outside his experiment room, and an elephant comes around the
    corner and shambles up behind him. I assume it’s some ”elephant in the
    room” visual metaphor but I honestly didn’t know what it was meant to
    tell me. It seemed to me that the character of Milgram was completely
    frank with the audience (and everyone in the film) and that there
    weren’t any issues left unaddressed. Then we have bizarre uses of
    background projection (not just for driving scenes…an entire afternoon
    tea scene is set in front of a weird background projection) and a
    distractingly bad false beard Milgram acquires when we reach the late
    70’s or so. Why go weird? Why not play this as a straight drama? It
    started feeling like we were watching an odd stage play. A stage play
    with an admirable cast though. Sarsgaard does a fine job as MIlgram and
    we’ve got Winona Ryder as his wife Sasha. Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a
    minor role as the ”student” in Milgram’s team and his subjects have a
    steady stream of cool cameos including John Leguizamo and Anton
    Yelchin. As inexplicably strange as the movie is and despite the lull
    in the middle, EXPERIMENTER has enough positive notes to make it well
    worth a view for anyone interested in the subject matter.

  • SnoopyStyleNovember 27, 2016Reply

    needs more drama

    It’s 1961 Yale University. Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) is
    conducting a social experiment with assistants James McDonough (Jim
    Gaffigan) and Alan Elms. Test subjects are told to deliver electric
    shocks to a stranger played by McDonough. The shocks are actually fake
    and most participants obey. Stanley meets and marries Sasha (Winona
    Ryder). He continues to teach and work on other experiments like lost
    letters, and six degrees of separation. His publication of Obedience to
    Authority leads to criticism of his findings and the ethics of the
    experiment itself.

    This is a solid biopic. The experiments are intriguing and even
    compelling at times. For some, the Obedience experiment may be
    eye-opening. Personally, I didn’t realize the origins of the six
    degrees of separation. The movie feels informative but lacks real
    tension or danger. Sarsgaard’s performance is mannered and expertly
    done. Jim Gaffigan adds a little bit of needed humor. I wouldn’t mind
    fictionalizing a nemesis for Milgram even if it’s only in his head.
    Filmmaker Michael Almereyda literally puts an elephant in the room and
    references Adolf Eichmann. He could have easily used a Nazi as
    Milgram’s imagined enemy. Almereyda does plenty of visual
    experimentation to liven up the movie but sometimes, the scenes are
    better off with a straight forward telling. The elephant in the room is
    too cartoonish and on the nose. The rear-projection driving is
    unnecessary. The black and white photo background doesn’t work if the
    scene is supposed to be real. At times, Almereyda seems to be going out
    of his way to be inventive.

  • MaceDecember 4, 2016Reply

    Sometimes utterly fascinating, sometimes completely boring

    Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter isn’t what you would think it is. It
    is a documentary disguised as a movie that examines and experiments on
    the viewer through abstract story telling, bizarre imagery and personal
    quandaries. The film aims to tell us a very interesting story, but
    Experimenter always feels the need to remind us that we aren’t as smart
    as the intellectuals showcased, making the audience feel considerably
    distanced.

    To start, the acting is pretty excellent overall. While I was never
    familiar with Stanley Milgram before, Peter Sarsgaard gave an
    incredibly intriguing performance as the sly social psychologist. He
    brought a surprising amount of depth to a character who would seemingly
    appear shallow. Winona Ryder also gave an excellent performance as
    Milgram’s spouse. Her character serves as the audience’s character as
    she is mostly unfamiliar with Milgram’s work. She helps to reveal
    layers of humanity and emotion that we never expected from the icy and
    straight- faced Milgram. Even the sub-characters with minimal
    screen-time put in a great effort. Their small movements and facial
    expressions during the film’s first experiment sequences are incredibly
    realistic and make these scenes totally engrossing.

    All the experiments shown and explained throughout the film are easily
    the film’s best moments. These experiments and social predicaments are
    absolutely fascinating. They act as a vessel in which we can view raw
    human emotions and nature in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations.
    Sadly, the film insists on making us feel like we are the ones being
    experimented on, which puts a considerable distance between the film
    and audience.

    Experimenter is a film about intellectuals and their need to put
    themselves above the public. The story shared with us is explained
    through abstract storytelling and some strange imagery, and many times
    throughout I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being pandered to.
    Experimenter becomes quite pretentious when it decides to abandon it’s
    regular path of narrative and adopt a quirky and abstract style of
    storytelling. It isn’t always like this though, but it does become
    quite obvious when the film thinks that it is so much smarter than it’s
    audience.

    Experimenter manages to be entertaining most of the time, despite it’s
    complicated and deep social psychology. But when Experimenter is bad,
    it’s really bad. There are some stretches within the film that are
    completely dull and boring. These stretches are somewhat infrequent,
    but the entire film does take a hit when a narrative slump this massive
    shows up. Luckily, these parts aren’t quite long enough to completely
    ruin the film, but they still are quite noticeable and unpleasant.

    The excellent acting and fascinating social experiments are more than
    enough to say that this film is enjoyable, but Experimenter doesn’t
    bode too well when it so obviously sees the audience as below it.

  • vesil_vesalierDecember 28, 2016Reply

    Brain food. Disturbing and interesting brain food.

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • adonis98-743-186503February 17, 2017Reply

    So Disappointing

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

  • TxMikeFebruary 25, 2017Reply

    Worthwhile dramatic biography of a landmark experimenter.

    *** This review may contain spoilers ***

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