MovieChat Forums > Experimenter (2015) Discussion > Why was there an elephant?

Why was there an elephant?

There were two scenes they showed an elepant walking behind him. What was the meaning?

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Are you familiar with the expression 'elephant in the room'? If not, look it up first.

As for the elephants in this film, I'm thinking two reasons.

The first is the most obvious one and relates to Milgram's identity and true motivation for the experiments. Being a Jew, having lost family to the atrocities of the Nazis he has a personal and not so much scientific stake in the research.
The second is as a signifier to the audience. In the sense that the audience is tested and asked to unconditionally obey the story line and its presentation without question. Are you willing to go along even when there's literally an elephant in the room? In that way, the film itself becomes an obedience experiment.
By not accepting and questioning the presence of the elephant you, in fact, have passed the test.

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I don't think it has any meaning or significance, it's like they got the opportunity to borrow a elephant so they rolled with it, artistic license and cuz it looks cool lol


I think "the elephant in the room" scenes were meant to emphasize that the controversy that surrounded these experiments with Milgram being so highly criticized for "forcing" people to go against their better natures/judgement by duping them into doing things they didn't really want to do. The controversy essentially ignored/diverted attention from/denied the fact that it really wasn't all that hard to get most people to go along with the experiment and do something they personally thought was horrific when someone they perceived had authority TOLD them they had to do it as part of the experiment they agreed to and were paid for. Yes, Milgram's interest in the issue/experiment was based on his personal family history but so what? Most people in that era were asking how and why the Nazi atrocities could happen. There was a great tendency to believe it was a "German nature" problem rather than a "human nature" problem. Even Milgram was surprised to get the results he got in the USA but he was even more surprised at the controversy that surrounded him after the fact. He was basically demonized for this.

BTW, I'm old enough to remember all of this and read his book shortly after it came out.


I agree with Rick220. I had the same thoughts... I felt tricked... Tested when I saw the obvious elephant amongst people. How people will ignore what is obvious...