27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival
director: Stanley Milgram
original title: Obedience
country: United States
running time: 45 min.
synopsisIn May 1962, a classic series of experiments took place at Yale University. In response to the Adolf Eichmann trial, and consequently to Hannah Arendt's essay on the banality of evil, Stanley Milgram decided to investigate how willingly participants would respond to orders coming from authorities that defied their conscience. Volunteers, both male and female, were divided up into teachers and students. The teacher would ask the students (who were in a separate room) a series of questions. Their punishment for giving a wrong answer would be an electric shock, which would intensify on an ad hoc basis. The film, originally intended as teaching material, would later go on to serve as an instrument confirming the validity of Milgram's findings.
“Obedience is as basic an element in the structure of social life as one can point to. Some system of authority is a requirement of all communal living, and it is only the person dwelling in isolation who is not forced to respond, with defiance or submission, to the commands of others.” — Stanley Milgram
biographyStanley Milgram (1933–1984) was an American experimental and social psychologist. He was particularly known for both his controversial and pioneering experiments that explored how far people were willing to go in terms of respecting and obeying authority. He is also noted for discovering the “small world” phenomenon, which hypothesized that any two US residents will share a certain degree of connectedness by way of the “six degrees of separation” concept, in which case each pair are separated by six other people on average.
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