In a time that the “Big Brother” hype was at its highest and in England there was a similar experiment with prisoners and guards, the director of the German tv-crime-series “Kommissar Rex” and “Tatort” made this film with exactly the same idea as the Brittisch scientists. 20 Volunteers participate in a psychological experiment. At random 12 men are appointed prisoner, 8 as guards. The men are told to take their roles seriously. The prisoners are really prisoners and the guards have a job which allows them to go home at night. All the people will get paid afterwards, which for most is the reason to participate. Of course the experiment runs seriously out of hand.
The good part about this film is that I really got into it. It is filmed the way it would be in reality. In the beginning the prisoners make fun, the guards have to get into their roles and the two groups have to try out what they can, can’t, must or must not do. As in the real British experiment the guards’ power rises to their heads and the atmosphere gets pretty grim. For both parties the reactions are understandable, but Hirschbiegel looked up the extremes a bit TOO much. All in all a satisfactory film though.