Atrocity

 
Credits
2004, 7 mins. (USC)
Director/Writer/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer: Adam Kargman
Cast: James Bolt, John Funk, Hollis Doherty, Linda Wilkens, Mitch Lippman, Mario Bickham, Derek Bentley, Jennifer Jessum.
Based on the article "The Perils of Obedience" by Stanley Milgram.
 
About
The Milgram experiment at Yale University in the early 1960s was, like the Kitty Genovese case, a shock to the American public's notions of its own goodness. In the experiment, test subjects believed they were administering electric shocks to subjects who gave wrong answers to a series of questions. At the behest of the scientist controlling the test, each subject increased the voltage to levels that, had electricity really been applied, would have been fatal.

That's the subject that Adam Kargman takes in his film Atrocity. Kargman, who was born in Kansas City, Missouri, first heard about the Milgram experiments in a college course on the Holocaust. Says Kargman, "I was most interested in what the experiment revealed about our tendency to obey authority (or, in the case of the experiment, "apparent" authority), even when ordered to do something that is contrary to our beliefs and notions of right and wrong."

The filmmaker says that the story of the experiment made a tremendous impact on him, teaching him how important it was not to compromise his values, "even when pressured by someone in a superior position." He credits his own interest in filmmaking to "watching a lot of movies," and is motivated "by a desire to tell stories and to work in what I consider to be the ultimate artistic medium." The short films he made before Atrocity were mostly comedies. Since then he has made a film "dealing with anesthesia awareness during surgery," and is currently wrapping up a film on repressed memory.

The most harrowing aspect of Atrocity is the shock cuts of Holocaust images inserted into the recreation of the experiments. Kargman says, "I think the more people that are exposed to the images, the better, as that can only help prevent such atrocities in the future." He was most concerned, he says, with "the recreation of the experiment. Any time you are dealing with a real-life incident, I think you have an obligation as a filmmaker not to misrepresent it. At the same time, I was working with very limited money and resources, and also felt compelled to reveal my own point of view about the experiment and what it meant."

Atrocity won best student short at the 2006 San Fernando Valley Film Festival.
 
Online Resources
Personal Account of Experiments, Jewish Currents
Milgram Obedience Studies, Holah Psychology
Career Overview, Stanley Milgram Online
Atrocity on imdb.com