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Past Films

The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015)

  • Starring: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Olivia Thirlby, Tye Sheridan
  • Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
  • Genre(s): Drama, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 122 min.

The Science on Screen film series is a creative pairing of classic, cult, and documentary films with a post show discussion by notable figures from the world of science, technology, and medicine.

Dr. Christie L. Cathey (MSU, Psychology) will lead a discussion of the film.

Admission price is $9 for Adults /$8 for Seniors and Students Free for Members

Film Synopsis: What happens when a college psych study goes shockingly wrong? In 1971 Stanford University professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) cast 24 student volunteers as prisoners and guards in a simulated jail to examine the source of abusive behavior in the prison system. The results astonished the world, as participants went from middle-class undergrads to drunk-with-power sadists and submissive victims in just a few days. [IFC Films]

"The film works hard to keep up the suspense: how far will the guards go? How much can the prisoners take? At what point, if any, will Zimbardo and his team intervene? And is his experiment scientific? Objective? Humane? Worthwhile?"
- Matthew Lickona, San Diego Reader
"Watching these young men brutalize each other is troubling enough, but perhaps the film's most interesting angle is how the experiment changes more than its subjects."
- Molly Eichel, Philadelphia Inquirer
"A riveting re-enaction of the still-notorious study. The young cast is electrifying."
- Rafer Guzman, Newsday
"That this was a controversial experiment, whose findings have been the subject of debate ever since, comes as no surprise. But history, before and since, suggests that it encapsulates an essential truth."
- Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"The Stanford Prison Experiment is the kind of movie that raises as many questions as it answers. It's also the kind of film where you want to budget some time for discussion afterward. You won't be able to shake this one off easily."
- Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
"The result is a viscerally unsettling experience, and a testament to the enduring relevance of the study's findings on the psychology of incarceration."
- Sara Stewart, New York Post
"Disturbing, honest and compelling, "The Stanford Prison Experiment" turns a well-known story into must-see storytelling, depicting the ugly truth through gorgeous filmmaking."
- James Rocchi, TheWrap