Experimenter – The Stanley Milgram Story, Blu-ray (2016)

Not at all your usual movie. Not fantastic but worth seeing.

Experimenter – The Stanley Milgram Story, Blu-ray (2016)

Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder
Director: Michael Almereyda
Studio: Magnolia Home Ent. 10908 [1/5/16]
Video: 1.78:1 1080p HD color for 16:9 screens
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Extras: “The Making of Experimenter,” “Designing Experimenter,” Interview with Joel Milgram on understanding Stanley Milgram
Length: 98 min.
Rating: ****

The famous experiment designed by associate professor Stanley Milgram in the Yale psychology department consisted of various subjects giving what they think are painful electric shocks to the same affable stranger who is strapped to a chair in another room. The subjects are supposedly divided in random fashion into “teacher” and “learner,” but it is fixed so the same actor plays the stranger supposedly getting the shocks. Despite his pleas for mercy, most of the “teachers” do not stop the experiment and administer what they think a near-fatal higher and higher electric shock, just because they have been told to.

Both the scientific community and pop culture became suddenly aware of the experiments, and in some circles Milgram was accused of being a deceptive and manipulative monster – when actually he was a surprised at the results as anyone – he expect more people would challenge authority when they were told to do sometime dispicable. (This all occured about the same time as the Eichmann trial in which the Nazi – who was major organizer of the Holocaust – claimed he was just following orders.)

Meeting his wife and her support of his work is part of the film. It is a bit disconcerting that Sarsgaard often speaks directly to the camera and audience, but it is fascinating to take part in this unusual exploration of authority and conformity. Some of Milgram’s other experiments are shown, but don’t seem to have much importance next to this major one.

—John Sunier

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