‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’ Or The Lucifer Effect: Warning Label For The Human Soul On Netflix [Opinion]

The Stanford Prison Experiment by IFC films is an absolute must see. It’s like a warning label for the human soul. This Stanford social experiment had to go horribly wrong in order to prove the fatal flaws within the very foundation of humanity.

The Lucifer Effect is real. The film is based not only on a true story but on a scientifically proven fact. The Lucifer Effect, discovered in the Stanford Prison Experiment, can completely break a human being in six days. Subjects forgot who they were. Some became monsters, and others hapless broken victims.

The Standford Prison Experiment by IFC Films is a dramatization of an actual Stanford experiment by the same name carried out during six days in 1971. The discoveries about human nature made during those six days were aptly called the Lucifer Effect.

The Standford Prison Experiment by IFC films is based on notes from the actual Stanford College experiment, video documentation, and the more dramatically titled book The Lucifer Effect available on Amazon. The Stanford Prison Experiment is a must see, now available on Netflix. Whether or not a viewer is familiar with The Lucifer Effect or has read the book, this movie is still shocking.

The Lucifer Effect was discovered by Dr. Philip Zimbardo portrayed by Billy Crudup in The Stanford Prison Experiment. Dr. Philip Zimbardo devised a simple two-week experiment to recreate prison conditions using ordinary college students and some basement rooms in the psychology building at Stanford.

The outcome was so shocking, The Stanford Prison Experiment had to be called off after only six days due to what Dr. Zimbardo would come to call the Lucifer Effect. It had simply become too real. Guards became vicious, and prisoners started showing signs of emotional breakdown. They all lost touch with reality, and their personal identities began to break down within days due to the Lucifer Effect.

The Stanford Prison Experiment began by selecting 24 male college students from among 75 applicants. Some students were selected by a coin toss to be guards while others would play the role of prisoners.

What Dr. Phillip Zimbardo did not anticipate is that, at least for a while, he too would get caught up in his own experiment, becoming the ultimate warden of what he would come to call “my prison.”

In The Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo was not the only experimenter to get caught up in the Lucifer Effect. Despite the need for an impartial observer, everyone in the experiment fell into their own created delusion, to one degree or another. Each fell under the spell of the Lucifer Effect in less than a week.

Actor Billy Crudup and Dr. Phillip Zimbardo

Nelsan Ellis who portrays a consultant Jessie Fletcher, who had actually served time in prison, has one of the most amazing roles in The Stanford Prison Experiment. Fletcher, despite his resentment and utter loathing of the prison system, also falls into the Lucifer Effect. Ellis delivers one of the more troubling lines in the film.

“I was just trying to do everything exactly how I was treated to completely reenact what they did, their feelings, their attitude, and their indifference… they… Back in that room I became everything I’ve hated for so long, I let it happen and I enjoyed it.”

The Lucifer Effect author, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo is quoted in The Guardian explaining very simply what happened in the experiment at Standford which he predicted would probably be a very boring two weeks.

“The sad conclusion [from The Stanford Prison Experiment] is humanity lost – the evil won.”

The Stanford Prison Experiment is well documented with video, audio, and extensive notes. It followed scientific procedures and theory and is irrefutable evidence against the very nature of humanity. The Lucifer Effect needs to be seen as a warning, both for individuals and for society as a whole.

Actors Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Olivia Thirlby, Ezra Miller and Johnny Simmons

The Stanford Prison Experiment proves that character is largely a matter of circumstance and when circumstances change, then people change as well. Good people can become evil in less than a week. They can become violent, angry, aggressive, and they can torment others for no good reason when put into authority. Power definitely corrupts, and it seems no one is immune to this Lucifer Effect.

Likewise, the Lucifer Effect, as seen in The Stanford Prison Experiment, shows how easily strong and independent people can be broken, forced into submission, and stripped of their core identities.


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While The Stanford Prison Experiment with its Lucifer Effect is not a pleasant film, it is a very good drama, and the knowledge gained from the experiment needs to be remembered.

[Featured Image by Larry Busacca/Getty Images]