Two of the better-received films in 2014 involved scientists – The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawking and The Imitation Game about Alan Turing. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, there are two films on psychology that might command similar attention in 2015.
Experimenter is a film about Stanley Milgram, a psychology researcher who conducted notable experiments about obedience in the 1960s. The experiments were controversial and Milgram was accused of deception. Subsequent research – both clinical and historical – suggest Milgram’s initial research was certainly flawed, if not deceptive. Experimenter stars Peter Saarsgard and Winona Ryder, and is cast with many other actors you might recognize.
The Stanford Prison Experiment focuses on the titular experiment, conducted in 1971 by Philip Zimbardo (who consulted on the film). Billy Crudup plays Zimbardo, and the Stanford prison experiment also prompted criticism, due to Zimbardo’s direct participation in the experiment (where he played the prison superintendent) and the research being published in non-refereed journals. The film was recognized with this year’s Alfred P Sloan Prize for feature film.
Both films just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, so it’s too early to know when (or if) either film will receive wide(r) release.