The Goebbels Experiment

Director: Lutz Hachmeister

Germany-U.K.| 2005. Colour and black and white. Dolby stereo. 104 min.

Joseph Goebbles (1897-1945) has survived the Nazi regime as an icon of unbridled, cynical propaganda. Yet Goebbels’s life was more enigmatic and unsettling than his classification as a propaganda genius or ‘inveterate liar of the Third Reich’ would suggest. Director Lutz Hachmeister’s film shows how Goebbels was constantly stage-managing his life and reinventing himself, from his beginnings as a National Socialist right up to his suicide with his wife and children. Unusually for such a documentary, the only commentary comes from Goebbels’s own diaries (read by Kenneth Branagh), which he kept from 1924 to 1945. The film builds up a psychological portrait of a man who lived life at fever pitch, vacillating between destructive anger and political ecstasy. Some of the shrewdest moments involve Goebbels’s opinions of films of the era and many are loaded with fascinating implications.

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