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57TH ANNUAL SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL
The Game of Death
Christophe Nick, Thomas Bornot | France | 95 mins
This controversial documentary made headlines worldwide when it screened recently in France. The film follows 80 people signing up for a pilot game show. In fact, the show was a ruse, they were really taking part in an adaptation of the infamous Milgram experiments; a 1960s study in authority and obedience involving volunteers administering electric shocks.
In the TV version, a glamorous presenter orders the contestants to zap their fellow players when they fail to answer a question correctly. The participant is not actually ‘shocked,’ but neither the questioner or audience are aware of this – and his shrieks are convincing. Behind the scenes, a team of psychologists analyse the outcomes. The project was billed as a warning against blindly obeying authority, but the palpable distress of the participants raises as many questions about the manipulative power of television itself.