This is turning out to be a banner year for movies about controversial American psychological experiments. The haunting Stanford prison experiment movie hit screens this month, and we now have the first trailer for Experimenter, which details Stanley Milgram’s polarizing efforts in the ‘60s to establish the bounds of human obedience and authority.
The Milgram experiment was devised in response to the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, which prompted questions about whether Nazi officers were “following orders” or wholly culpable for their crimes. Milgram, a Yale psychologist, explored this issue by testing whether subjects would be willing to follow orders that had them electrocute strangers in the next room. There was no real electrocution taking place, but, astonishingly, a majority of subjects administered what they thought to be fatal shocks after some gentle prodding by Milgram. Peter Sarsgaard plays Milgram, the ever-brilliant Winona Ryder plays his wife Sasha, and Jim Gaffigan, Anton Yelchin, and Taryn Manning round out the cast. Experimenter is out in October.