Stories of our Lives



1961. Stanley Milgram designs a psychology experiment in which people think they deliver electric shocks to a stranger in another room. Milgram is trying to come to terms with the Holocaust. His experiment is about conformity, conscience and free will. He doesn't expect the results, 65% of the subjects deliver shocks that may be fatal, obeying commands from a lab-coated authority figure. Milgram is accused of being a monster. Fortified by the love of his family, Milgram carries on, exploring human nature, fighting false perceptions. The film's style is as playful and provocative as a Milgram experiment, showing how Milgram's conscience and creative spirit continue to be resonant and inspirational.

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  1. Do you think the electric shock experiment was manipulative and unethical or a valid social science inquiry?

  2. For most people, obedience to perceived authorities seems hard-wired into us, even when our conscience has doubts. Why do you think we obey so willingly?

  3. There is relatively little suspense in the movie. False props like black-and-white backgrounds and elephants are used. We find out little about the inner life of Stanley Milgram. What do think this ‘experimental' filmmaker is trying to say about our choice-making ability in viewing a movie, and more importantly, living our everyday lives?

  4. How do you respond to authority figures? Are you naturally reactionary or obedient? How does one respond from a deeper motivation, neither reactionary or obedient? If you see the ‘puppet strings’ in yourself, can you make different choices?

  5. Does Milgram’s experiments give us new insight into why Nazism’s Holocaust or America’s atrocities in Vietnam occurred? Is this cause for despair or hope?

  6. What lesson does this movie have if your desire is to live a life of faith?

  7. The review suggests Milgram's experiement findings could have been used to educate us in awareness. Do you agree? Why do you think this was never adopted ?
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