Do not let the German language prevent you from watching Das Experiment AKA The Experiment, a captivating psychological thriller based on true events. The movie is so good that universities oftentimes play it to their students to demonstrate certain concepts. We will be following an average taxi driver who responds to an ad in the newspaper about this new study. Looking to make a quick buck, he doesn’t know yet what terrors await him in the following days. I think I don’t need to tell you that all the technical aspects of this German masterpiece are top-notch.
I’m talking about things like the cinematography, camera work, and all other elements that rival if not exceed Hollywood productions. And the same goes for the stellar cast. Moritz Bleibtreu, one of the most popular German actors of that period did a fantastic job along with Christian Berkel playing Robert Steinhoff. It is, however, Justus von Dohnányi that stands out with his stellar performance as Berus, one of the more fascinating characters in this already fascinating movie. Das Experiment is one of the first movies that pulled the veil for me.
It truly influenced my life back then, in the early 2000s showing me that I’m on the right path. And that there’s something seriously wrong with our society. In order to fully understand what the fuck is happening here it’s best to start from the beginning. And in the beginning, were the famous Milgram experiments from 1961. Psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted studies researching obedience and authority figures. I highly recommend that after watching the movie we’re talking about today, you check out Experimenter.
It’s one of the few good movies about psychologists along with A Dangerous Method. Now, the Milgram experiments served as a basis for the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment. Das Experiment is a movie based on those events taking them to a next level. So, most of what you’re going to see here really happened. Moreover, things that did not happen might as well. They’re a natural consequence of the trajectory set by the experiment and human nature. Just to be clear, these are not the only experiments exploring these issues but they are the most famous ones.
Tarek Fahd is a taxi driver in Germany. He’s not making a lot of money so when he sees an ad for an experiment that pays quite well, Tarek decides to sign up. At this point, he’s willing to do pretty much anything to get some cash. What he doesn’t know is that exactly this attitude of his will be put to the test in the days to come. And whether Tarek will pass this test is up to you to find out.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, Das Experiment showed us the true potential of this director, who went on to work on such movies as Der Untergang, The Invasion and Five Minutes of Heaven. It is a very intense movie with an increasingly suspenseful atmosphere, but the thing that got me were the characters. They all seemed very realistic and this helped with the empathy immensely. If you add to all this an original and true story, the choice is clear: you must check out this masterpiece. I will not bore you with the psychological analysis and other philosophical questions that the movie poses.
Throughout this review, there have been several references that this is a true story, so I have to be clear about one thing: this is not a documentary or a documentary-style flick, but a full-blown thriller with some nice cinematography and camerawork. Granted, a couple of things could have been better, but technical details fade away in front of this rock-hard story. Enjoy.
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Writers: Mario Giordano, Christoph Darnstädt, Don Bohlinger
Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Thorsten Dersch, Danny Richter