The Infamous Stanford Prison Experiment Is Coming To Screens

The Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the few “scientific” experiments most people know about. Yes, “scientific” is in quotes for a reason. And that reason promises to make it a way more interesting movie.

According to The Wrap, this particular dramatization of an experiment is finally hitting screens, and with a decent cast:

a movie about the infamous “Stanford Prison Experiment” is finally moving forward with Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller and Michael Angarano set to star and “C.O.G.” filmmaker Kyle Patrick Alvarez (“C.O.G.”) directing… The current version of the project has been in the works since 2002, when Emery first hired Tim Talbott to write the script. Since then, Emery has shepherded “Stanford Prison Experiment” through many obstacles, including the 2007 Writer’s Strike, which prevented the film from heading into production at the time.

As for how it broke through decades of Hollywood bureaucracy, well, let’s just say Ferguson has come up quite a bit in connection to this movie. People are interested in authoritarian abuse of power!

For those unfamiliar, the Stanford Prison Experiment is more an interesting dissection of how an experiment can fail, and fail badly. The experiment itself was simple: 24 people were recruited by a psychology professor, Phillip Zimbardo, and divided into two groups, prisoners and guards. They had to simulate prison life for two weeks. The goal was to test the hypothesis that prisons become abusive environments entirely because of the personality traits and personal failings of the guards, or if prison itself creates abuse.

As we all know, it promptly went to hell. The “prisoners” rebelled, the guards got violent, and the whole thing was terminated after six days. It’s not really considered a valid experiment: Everything from subject screening to the fact that Zimbardo has a lot invested in the idea of “situational attribution”, or the idea that environment affects behavior.

So it’s a controversial, at best, scientific experiment that can never really be repeated. But it should make one hell of a movie!