BY MELISSA CHAPMAN
Cataloging Supervisor, Warsaw Community Public Library
We all want to believe that we’re good people; that we aren’t capable of cruel, inhuman acts. But what if that isn’t the case?
What if we all have that capability for great evil? When I discovered that the library had two new films about two social psychologists whose experiments in the 1960s-1970s clued us into what we are capable of being, I just had to watch them. Below is my review of each film.
“The Experimenter” is excellent in explaining what heights of cruelty a person can be commanded to do. As an assistant professor at Yale in 1961 and inspired by the Jewish Holocaust, Stanley Milgram sought to answer the question of how civilized human beings come to participate in inhumane acts such as genocide. Milgram came up with an experiment that answers those questions. Their results might shock you.
Although the plot walks around the famous Milgram Experiment and the life of Stanley Milgram, the disturbing nature of the movie is not about the experiment itself, but about the questions that made it possible.
“The Stanford Prison Experiment” captures how humans react when given power. It’s a fascinating look into the psychology of authority, mob mentality and cruelty.
The film is based on an actual experiment conducted in 1971 by Dr. Philip Zimbardo. 24 Students (all male) from Stanford signed up for an experiment to get some extra money. They were separated into two different groups: prisoners or guards. The experiment captured what people would do in a position of authority and what people would do when they were treated as a convict. It’s an interesting experiment that begins to spiral out of control by day two. What was supposed to have lasted two weeks only lasted six days.
Michael Angarano, who plays “John Wayne”, absolutely steals the movie as a sadistic prison guard. He immerses himself in a character that is, himself, immersed in a character. He owns the screen every time he’s on it. Both of these films are more academic than entertaining as well as disturbing.
So if you want action, adventure, or comedy these two are not for you. If you prefer something not quite academic we also have some new releases, “Straight Outta Compton,” “Goosebumps,” “The Martian,” “Sinister 2” and “Everest”. Our hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.