Cinema without popcorn: the hardest animal: Articles of society ➕1, 29/04/2022

Footage from the movie “Man”

In 1971, psychology professor Philip Zimbardo conducted one of the most controversial psychological experiments in history. It was commissioned by the US Navy, which was concerned about the nature of the conflict in the Marine Corps and the penitentiary facilities. For this, Zimbardo selected 24 volunteers – young law-abiding men from middle-income families who had no mental health problems or a tendency to violence.

The participants in the experiment were divided into “guards” and “prisoners” and Zimbardo himself assigned the role of “prison warden”, which was organized in the basement of the building of the School of Psychology. It only took six days for the “guards” to start making fun of the “prisoners”: they stripped and humiliated them, locked them in solitary confinement, put them to sleep on the cold floor and cleaned their toilets with their bare hands. At the same time, very uncomfortable conditions were immediately created for the “prisoners” – they were called exclusively by numbers and as clothes they wore only bathrobes without underwear.

The experiment, which was constantly videotaped to the cameras, ended earlier. Based on his results, Zimbardo concluded that under certain conditions, people can forget moral and ethical values ​​and become cruel. This behavior is based on group compliance (passive acceptance of the ruling class) and the tendency to submit to power, which destroys personal initiative.

Later, the Stanford prison experiment was criticized for violating his morals (such a study would hardly be allowed today), Zimbardo’s own involvement in it, and the vague methodological basis by which criteria are evaluated.

Nevertheless, the Zimbardo experience is still of interest to the public. The professor himself made a documentary in 1991 entitled “The Stanford Prison Experiment: The Psychology of Confinement”. In 2015, a feature film was released starring Ezra Miller and Ty Sheridan.

An equally shocking experiment called “Rhythm 0” was performed by the famous Serbian performance Marina Abramovic in 1974 in Naples. He wanted to explore how far people could go if the artist allowed them to do whatever they wanted with themselves. The show lasted six hours, during which Abramovich stood motionless and the audience could pick up any of the 72 objects lying on the room table and interact with Marina using it. Among them were scissors, a whip, a flashlight, grapes, bread, perfume, apples, a rose, a knife and even a gun. The crowd quickly lost interest in subjects that brought pleasure and began to torment the artist. “In the beginning, the audience was very calm: they played with me, they gave me a rose, they kissed me, but then they got wilder and wilder. They cut my throat and drank my blood. A man loaded a gun with a bullet and stuck it in my hand, I wondered if I would pull the trigger. They took scissors and cut my clothes. Rose thorns stuck to my skin. “Once the experiment was over, I became myself – before that I was a puppet for them – and I started walking in the gallery and people were running,” Marina Abramovich said in a video dedicated to the experiment.

France, 2015

French documentary filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand has traveled to 60 countries and spoken to more than 2,000 women and men. These conversations take up to four hours, which is like the breath of life, although people are just photographed up close on a black screen and answering questions about their lives. They speak very honestly and emotionally about love, happiness, war, genocide, incurable diseases, intolerance towards people with non-traditional orientation, about sexual violence. Others cry, others laugh. The monologues are scattered with shots of the most beautiful landscapes – Bedouins walk along a dune, women with huge baskets on their backs gather something in a field among bright yellow flowers.

The film begins with the story of a man who is in prison for life, who killed his wife and child during an argument. He says that his father beat him from his childhood – so he got the wrong idea of ​​what love is. “For many years I believed that love must hurt. I have hurt everyone I love. “I determined the power of love from the pain a person received from me,” the man admits. According to him, the best love lesson was given to him by his wife’s mother. “She had every right to hate me, but she did not. “And as our relationship developed, he began to treat me with love,” he says, with tears running down his cheeks.

Both episodes of “Human” in extended version can be viewed on YouTube.

If you want to know how criminals feel and think, watch the documentary directed by Gethin Aldous and Gyrus McLeary. They went to Falls Prison in California and watched a four-day inmate psychotherapy, videotaping it on camera.

In the frame, brutal men capable of killing and even committing them share their stories. And now, behind the mask of a dominant and tough male, accustomed to resolving issues by force, a vulnerable person appears: someone is crying and someone is screaming in rage and pain. This is a very lively and true film that allows you to touch on the contradictory nature of people. Those who restrained their feelings to fight for power in criminal gangs finally found the opportunity to vent and see for themselves. The film was shot simply, in the frame – only the prisoners and their experience.

In a series of films, biologist Dan Riskin studies human behavior closely and with interest – its biological, psychological and behavioral characteristics. Each 44-minute episode is dedicated to a separate theme: “Hardness”, “Fear”, “Memory”, “Immortality”. Riskin tries to answer the questions: what makes people kill others? Is cruelty an innate human quality? What is fear? To what extent does memory determine our personality?

The films are light and fast: to explore his fear, Riskin dives into sharks, is locked in a huge suitcase and goes for a parachute. His personal experience is interspersed with interesting statistics – for example, that every minute in the world a man dies a violent death – and interviews: not only with scientists, but also with the military, a Texas serial killer, even and an executioner.

All four episodes in Russian appeared on the YouTube Discovery Channel in Russia in 2021.

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Margarita Fedorova

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