It began as a game in the name of science. Twenty men. Two weeks. The payoff, a breezy USD 2,000. Investigation of aggressive behaviour in a simulated prison environment, the "game": Assign eight men as "the guards" and twelve men "the prisoners." While the prisoners are locked up and ordered to follow the rules, the guards are instructed to keep order. But giving a man a little power makes him do unexpected things. Take away a man's pride and humanity - and it makes him do even worse! As each day passes, power and authority battle rebellion and retribution with increasingly violent results, blurring the line between what is "real" and what is the "experiment."
After that adventure, he took up studies in painting and graphics at the Hamburg Art Academy where, under the direction of Sigmar Polke, he turned his attention to photography, video and film. A series of installations and Performance art pieces led him to an interest in directing, and with video and filmmaker Gabor Body, he developed the video magazine Infermental. In 1986, he sold the first screenplay he wrote himself, DAS GO! PROJEKT (THE GO! PROJECT) under the condition that ZDF, the German network, would allow him to direct it as well: "Suddenly, I was a film director and the people who showed me how to do it were Hitchcock, Huston and Hawks. I drew NORTH BY NORTHWEST from the first camera set-up to the last. In other words, I drew up a sort of storyboard from the film in order to find out how to tell stories with images. How do you have someone come in through a door? How do you shoot an airplane attacking a man? How do you shoot a car drive, and where do you cut and what do you cut to? That was a good exercise, and it worked! I did the same thing with sequences from Peter Weir's THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, Sidney Pollack's THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, from John Schlesinger's MARATHON MAN, and everything by Ridley Scott, especially ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER!" DAS GO! PROJEKT got good reviews and Oliver Hirschbiegel received more offers. In the following years, he directed a wide range of thrillers and crime stories for television, many of them honored with the Grimme Award, as well as 14 episodes of the television series KOMMISAR REX and two stories for the famous German series TATORT (SCENE OF THE CRIME). THE EXPERIMENT is his debut as a feature film director.
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Written by: Mario Giordano, Don Bohlinger, Christoph Darnstädt
Produced by: Marc Conrad, Friedrich Wildfeuer, Norbert Preuss
Cinematography: Rainer Klausmann
Editing: Hans Funck
Main Cast: Moritz Bleibtreu (Tarek Fahd), Maren Eggert (Dora), Christian Berkel (Steinhoff)
Nominations and Awards
- People's Choice Award 2001
- European Film 2001
- EFA Feature Film Selection 2001