or, for the international readers:
Been a while since I watched it, but I always had it in memory as one of the really outstanding German movies. And that hasn’t changed. Besides the real life background story and officially counting as ‘drama’, this is pretty much torture porn with A list actors. While Hollywood, and other countries in general, oftenly think Germany only has two actors, Till Schweiger and Franka Potente, we do have some more, and I like nearly all of them better than the two international franchises. This combination; – the official category ‘drama’ and rather unfamiliar names on the cast – make The Experiment a surprising and usually very appreciated recommendation.
A social experiment with prisoner and guard roles applied to ‘the average guy on the street’ brings out the most popular aspects of late 70ies camp movies, with the significant difference of having only guys in the camp. A refreshing change from all the caged women back then, and Moritz Bleibtreu isn’t the ugliest of all actors, so it’s not even too painful to deal with the (near and full) nudity that comes with 12 guys wearing nothing but hospital gowns and sandals most of the time.
Though the scientists conducting the experiment restrict violence, we eventually get there. Starting with a power struggle between guards and prisoners, loss of sense for reality, first steps over the line with mild punishment and moderate humiliation, it soon leads to raw, open violence, torture and disgusting and humiliating punishment. Of course, there is still a strong drama aspect, and the sadly typical elements of trying to be artsy, but it’s neglectable and doesn’t ruin the movie. There are no lengths; the movie manages it to keep the high tension from the start to end.
Famous last words: Always a pleasure to watch – This is likely the closest thing to a real camp movie made after 1985.