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Perpetrator Studies Network


Almereyda, Michael, dir. Experimenter

Experimenter, written and directed by Michael Almereyda, is a biopic of Stanley Milgram, focusing on the experiment which changed social psychology in the 20th century. The film itself is experimental, frequently breaking the fourth wall and including surrealist elements. The film also depicts Milgram’s life and background. He is haunted by the Holocaust, and this is what influences his study of authority, conformity and conscience. The experiment (and Milgram’s own concerns) revolves around the question “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders, could we call them all accomplices?” The film showcases Milgram’s struggle with this question, as well as his struggle against the extremely negative public reaction to his experiment. It then follows Milgram’s later work on social interactions and behaviour up until his death. The film closes with one of Milgram’s lesser known experiments, “the street-corner experiment”, which became known as “social proof”. It illustrates a phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation. The film was well-received and lends itself well to teaching

Almereyda, Michael, dir. Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story. New York: Magnolia Pictures, 2015.