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Das Experiment Essay

1246 words - 5 pages

"Das Experiment" is based on a 1970's experiment called "The Stanford County Prison" experiment. A study done to see if the social structure of a prison affects the behavior of prisoners and guards and the perception of their roles. As the scientists trusted and soon learned to fear, the volunteers immediately fell into their, anticipated, roles. The guards abused their power and the prisoners let free what tugged them into their reality as humans. The study was stopped before the two weeks, however it proved to be too late.

A group of volunteers is divided into guardians and prisoners in a simulated jail. The guards slip into uniforms complete with night sticks, whistles, and handcuffs, while the prisoners strip down to nothing but shirts and trade in their names for numbers. The university basement is turned into a panopticon: the guards are overseeing the prisoners while the scientists are watching everything on video screens. In a fascist reality, surveillance is everywhere: complete control. Both groups are exhorted to follow the rules: the prisoners must obey, and the guards are to maintain peace and order. No matter what, there is to be no violence. Everybody's still cracking jokes, but some men are wearing boots and others flip-flops.... Tarek, the lead in the movie, a taxi driver with a hidden agenda is cell mates with two others. Tarek is not only participating for the money the guinea pigs are to receive for their participation; he is a journalist looking for a story. A story that might give him a break into the company he worked for. He ridicules the guards and inspires a playful prison riot in order to get a good story, this accelerates the effects of the prison immensely.

A subtle choreography of feelings takes form in the mock prison, and the differences between play-acting and reality grow vague and unclear. The guards' initial uncertainty in their roles becomes a willingness to resort to violent means, and the instinct of self-defense gives way to open aggression. The use of force and the reactions to it build to a perilous climax as more and more violent incidents stack up. When noone is watching

them the guards quickly are taking charge and destroying the place which the psychologists had created. Intending on ending the whole state of affairs is surprised when she is also taken prisoner.

She is now forced to live in the world she had setup for others, until the head scientist returns and finds her missing. The guards have reworked all the locks, keeping the scientist out of the building. A final fight leaves one prisoner dead, forcing the others to unscrew a wall and escape quickly into the hallway. Taking all the prisoners with them they look desperately for a way out of the assumed prison. The final encounter is between the #77 and the head guard, when the guard thrusts a knife at Tarek's head, a knife which he catches. It is then that Tarek reminds the guard that it's all just an experiment. The guard...

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