The Goebbels Experiment

on August 12, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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This intimate look at Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's infamous Propaganda Minister, offers some surprises and a portrait that doesn't quite mesh with the one most people know. Utilizing excerpts from Goebbels' diaries, effectively read by Kenneth Branagh, and some never before seen footage of Goebbels, Hitler and the Nazis, "The Goebbels Experiment" showcases the clubfooted agitator as the nasty, hateful man known from history. But it also reveals him to have been highly insecure, manic depressive and occasionally more than a little disillusioned with his beloved Fuhrer, though never with the beliefs of National Socialism itself. He also comes across as something of a knowledgeable film critic, offering up trenchant reviews of the propaganda movies of the day.

Historical fans are liable to be frustrated by the skimpiness of some of Goebbels' observations -- the Americans are barely mentioned -- and the film's format locks the audience into what is often an appallingly banal mindset. Still, there's enough new stuff here to hold one's interest. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh. Directed by Lutz Hachmeister. Written by Lutz Hachmeister and Michael Kloft. A First Run release. Documentary. English- and German-language; subtitled. Running time: 104 min

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