Film “Compliance” Examines Submission to Authority

by Doug Plumb — ( Feb 9, 2014

“Compliance” is a gripping film about our mindless obedience to authority which flopped badly, proving Americans have little appetite for reality. It grossed only $319,000.
On the other hand, the movie was a hit with critics getting an 81% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. “It never loses sight of its goal to persuade us to be more aware, more questioning of our leaders and institutions, from politicians to priests to, in this case, the police, ” wrote one critic.
The storyline: An employee of a fast food restaurant is accused of stealing money from a customer by a prank policeman talking to the manager by telephone. The “officer” requests assistance from the store manager and the manager feels morally obligated to co-operate.
The accusation is passionately denied by the employee, played by Dreama Walker, left. The prankster asks the manager to get assistance from another male employee as well as her fiance. Gradually, the employee is lead from answering questions to submitting to a strip search and then to eventually performing humiliating sex acts.
The whole ordeal lasts from early day until nightfall. The employee is held naked in a store room covered only by an apron. Her clothes are in the managers car. This effectively holds her as prisoner in the store room.
The film has a shock value of a first rate psychological thriller, easily more powerful than the best that has ever come out of Hollywood. This is what is needed bring attention to this important message.
In 2004, a man who identified himself as a police officer telephoned a McDonald’s in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, and led employees down a path that ended in sexual assault. More than 70 such phone calls occurred across the country over a nearly 10-year period ending in 2004. In 2006, a man named David Stewart was acquitted of all charges brought against him by investigators.
“It seemed implausible to me that this would be possible,” said the film’s Director Craig Zobel, noting that he learned of the incidents while reading about the famed 1961 Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures. “I don’t like to say people are stupid, so the film for me was retroactively saying, ‘What part of human nature lets this happen?'”


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