Experimenter (film)

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File:Experimenter Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Almereyda
Produced by
Written by Michael Almereyda
Music by Bryan Senti
Cinematography Ryan Samul
Edited by Kathryn J. Schubert
  • BB Film Productions
  • FJ Productions
  • Intrinsic Value Films
  • Jeff Rice Films
  • 2B Productions
Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 25, 2015 (2015-01-25) (Sundance)
  • October 16, 2015 (2015-10-16) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $128,465[2]

Experimenter is a 2015 American biographical drama film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, based on the 1961 Milgram experiment. The film stars Peter Sarsgaard, Taryn Manning, Kellan Lutz, Winona Ryder, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo, Lori Singer, Dennis Haysbert, Anthony Edwards, and Jim Gaffigan. The film was released on October 16, 2015, by Magnolia Pictures.


The film is based on the true story of famed social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who in 1961 conducted a series of radical behavior experiments that tested the willingness of ordinary humans to obey an authority figure while administering electric shocks to strangers. In the first half of the film, it is shown how the experiments are conducted, with nearly every test subject succumbing to the pressure of the circumstances and administering shocks to a stranger, despite the stranger begging him to stop. Between the experiments, it is shown how Milgram meets Alexandra (or Sasha), who will become his wife and mother of two children.

The second half of the film shows how Milgram struggles with the public outcry about the ethics of the experiments and how his career advances as he becomes a professor in New York and continues to study social interactions and social pressure in more benign experimental settings, including the small-world experiment, the lost-letter experiment, the street-corner (or gawking) experiment, the familiar stranger experiment, and various experiments that he makes his students carry out. Archive footage occurs frequently, either as a recordings that Milgram watches or as a backdrop for entire scenes. Milgram finally dies from a heart attack, at the age of 51. In the final scene, the street-corner experiment is repeated in the present day, with a cameo of the real-life Sasha Milgram. In a mid-credits scene, more archive footage is shown.



Although Almereyda was aware of Milgram's work, it wasn't until his girlfriend began taking a class on him that Almereyda became interested. Subsequently, the director found himself reading Milgram's Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View. [3] According to Almereyda once he started reading "[he] instantly saw how filmable it was" becoming increasingly interested in making it into a film the more he went on.[3] In filming, Almereyda wanted it to be "playful" in nature as he felt that's how Stanley Milgram himself would have made it.[3] Almereyda decided to have Milgram break the fourth wall based on viewing films of his in which Milgram would talk to the camera, reminding him of Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock.[4] From this Almereyda figured having the character talk to the camera "seemed natural and in fact essential to include that in the movie."[4] On May 13, 2014, Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder joined the cast.[5] On June 30, Kellan Lutz, Taryn Manning, Anton Yelchin, Anthony Edwards, and Edoardo Ballerini joined the cast.[6] Principal photography began on June 5, 2014, in New York City.[7]


The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2015.[8] On March 26, 2015, Magnolia Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film.[9] The film was released on October 16, 2015, in a limited release and through video on demand.[10]


Experimenter received positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 90%, an average rating of 7.3/10, sampled from 51 reviews. The consensus reads: "Led by a gripping performance from Peter Sarsgaard, Experimenter uses a fact-based story to pose thought-provoking questions about human nature."[11] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 81 out of 100 calculated from 20 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[12]

See also


  1. "EXPERIMENTER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. October 29, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Experimenter (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved November 11, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Turran, Kenneth. "Sundance 2015: Michael Almereyda's 'Experimenter' slyly delivers jolts". Los Angelis Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hynes, Eric. "CINEMATIC EXPERIMENTS: MICHAEL ALMEREYDA IS BACK WITH HEADY PSYCH DRAMA EXPERIMENTER". Sundance.org. Sundance Institute. Retrieved 27 September 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder Board Indie Drama 'Experimenter'". Hollywoodreporter.com. 2014-05-13. Retrieved 2014-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Kellan Lutz, Taryn Manning, Anton Yelchin Join Cast of 'Experimenter' (Exclusive)". Hollywoodreporter.com. 2014-06-30. Retrieved 2014-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "On The Set For 6/9/14: The Septembers of Shiraz Starts, Jennifer Aniston Starrer 'Cake' Wraps". Studiosystemnews.com. Retrieved 2014-08-16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Kay, Jeremy (2014-12-08). "Sundance unveils Premieres, Doc Premieres". Screen International.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Dave McNary (2015-03-26). "Peter Sarsgaard's 'Experimenter' Bought by Magnolia for U.S. (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2015-04-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Magnolia Pictures: Experimenter". Magpictures.com. Retrieved 2015-07-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Experimenter (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Experimenter". Metacritic. Retrieved October 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links