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The Goebbels Experiment
The Goebbels Experiment
Actors: Udo Samel, Kenneth Branagh, Heinrich Brüning, Winston Churchill, Engelbert Dollfuss
Director: Lutz Hachmeister
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary, Military & War
NR     2006     1hr 48min

"Arguably the most gifted of Hitler?s henchmen, Joseph Goebbels was an enigmatic genius whose successful manipulation of mass political opinion was unprecedented. His rise to power, and that of the Nazi Party itself, will ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Udo Samel, Kenneth Branagh, Heinrich Brüning, Winston Churchill, Engelbert Dollfuss
Director: Lutz Hachmeister
Creators: Lutz Hachmeister, Mark Samels, Nick Fraser, Sharon Grimberg, Thorsten Pollfuss, Michael Kloft
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Documentary, Biography, Military & War
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/23/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 48min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Goebbels in his own words
L. Carter | 07/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While the crisp tones of British actor Kenneth Branaugh's reading of Nazi Propaganda Minister Doctor Joseph Goebbels' diary entries might not be the German accent you'd expect, don't let this put you off of what is arguably a fine example of the Doctor's intelligence and brilliance. Coupled with excellent film footage, "The Goebbels Experiment" is nothing but excerpts from Goebbels' diaries (no other narration is used) which reveal the man's obvious intelligence (he was the only intellectual, degreed member of Hitler's court, outside of Albert Speer, who was also vastly intelligent and talented) and his almost superhuman talent for political propaganda.

Throughout his life, Goebbels had been a prolific diarist, and his writings give us a colorful, detailed portrait of his days as Propaganda Minister of the Third Reich. All aspects of his personality - his intelligence, his cunning, his passion for his wife, Magda, and the other women with whom he engaged in sexual liaisons (and they were many) and, of course, his total devotion to the Nazi party and its leader, Adolf Hitler - are revealed "in his own words" without outside comment or censure.

While the Nazi movement was driven in large part by Hitler's will and charisma, it was the words of Dr. Joseph Goebbels that perpetuated the Party images and its myth, coaxing forth the loyalty and blind devotion of the German people until finally rallying them with the doctrine of "Total War" which nearly destroyed Germany completely.

Goebbels has been described by one historian as being the most interesting man in the Nazi party apart from Hitler, and this documentary shows you why. Loathe him though you may, there is no doubt of his genius. Without him, I personally doubt the Nazi movement would have survived as long as it did. It was as much Goebbels' war as Hitler's.

A "must see" for anyone interesting in WWII and Nazi Germany in particular."
Ruslan Moskalenko | Pleasanton, CA United States | 06/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is an amazing film. Don't even know where to start.

- All you hear or watch are either documentaries or Goebbels own words. Of course, the facts can be used out of context etc, but still it's as close to truth as you can get.
- Quality of materials. We usually used to see WWII videos in black and white and it makes you feel disconneted from that time. Here they found some rare color films. It makes big difference!
- Feel the time. You here the sounds of that time, watch scenes from that time, listen to Goebbels own words. Looks like the authors were trying carefully to preserve that experience. The are not trying to give their own opinions or inject anything modern. So it's a very unspoiled view into pre WWII and WWII Germany.
- Great history lesson on propaganda, democracy etc. Some people would be probably surprised to realize that government got it's power in a democratic way by winning a series of elections and it had support from masses. That shows you the limits of democracy.

Overall, one of the best documentary films about that time released in the recent years!"
Dr. Goebbels Spricht
P.K. Ryan | Albany, NY USA | 03/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"'The Goebbels Experiment' is a magnificent documentary about the infamous Third Reich Propaganda Minister, Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Kenneth Branaugh is the narrator but where this differs from most documentaries is that instead of using a typical commentary approach, Branaugh solely reads excerpts of Dr. Goebbels extensive diary collection while images and film footage of the Minister roll in the background. This is a unique approach in the fact that it lets Dr. Goebbels essentially speak for himself and it succeeds in juxtaposing his private thoughts and feelings with his public persona. The diary entries begin circa 1924 when Goebbels was basically a discontented nobody, working a low-level job at a bank and oft complaining of depression and lack of purpose in life. He visibly comes to life after he becomes involved in the Nazi party and comes across as a rather happy-go-lucky guy. His admiration of Hitler is evident-"I love him" he says at one point-and the footage of these early party days reveal him as a constantly smiling and rather charming fellow. As the film-and the movement-proceeds, we see Goebbels gradually evolve into the bitter, and cynical propaganda master that he is remembered as. With that said, he seems to have maintained an unwavering loyalty to his Fuhrer and the movement up until the moment of his death.

There is some fantastic black and white film footage of Nazi party rallies and "behind the scenes" events that I have never seen before. Also utilized are a number of nice photographs of Goebbels' and company throughout his life. While I don't think this documentary is for everybody-my wife rolled her eyes when I told her what I was watching-anybody interested in the Third Reich or history in general will no doubt enjoy this film immensely. It is definitely one of the best documentaries on a historical figure that I have seen and it certainly gave me much insight into the mind of one of the most notorious men of the twentieth century."
What WAS the Goebbels Experiment?
Kerry Walters | Lewisburg, PA USA | 06/07/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is an well conceived and executed film. The vintage footage from the Weimar Republic and Third Reich era is gripping, truly giving one, as an earlier reviewer puts it, a "feel" for the period. The selections from Goebbels' diaries focus on many of the pertinent hallmarks in his life, although it's puzzling that Goebbels' reflections on the concentration and death camps, the Americans (and especially FDR), and Aryanism are completely absent from the film's narrative.

What's especially intriguing about the film is the ambiguity surrounding its title. Just what was the Goebbels experiment? It seems to me that two answers are possible. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the "experiment" of creating a huge propaganda machine capable of manipulating public opinion. This, of course, is what Goebbels did as Minister of Propaganda. Although he initially resisted the assignment, resentfully believing that he was being side-lined, Goebbels was in pretty much complete control of German radio, propaganda, film, press, and theatre by 1934. He insisted that effective propaganda must be the right mixture of entertainment and information, and recognized the power of dramatic film in manipulating the public (the production of "Kolberg" towards the end of the war is a good example of such manipulation). As he said, "German cinema must conquer the world"--that is, cinema was an effective weapon if properly wielded.

So in one sense, Goebbels' experiment was testing the limits of public credulity, and it can scarcely be denied that his successful tactics changed the relationship between governments and media. But at another level, the Goebbels experiment refers to Goebbel's self-creation. Perhaps his greatest propaganda coup was himself. Suffering through an unhappy, sickly childhood, lonely, alienated from a culture he always referred to disdainfully as petite bourgeois, Goebbels experienced profound and sometimes suicidal depression as a young man. By 1924, he was writing that "my life lacks meaning. What a terrible fate" and "Everything I do goes wrong. No purpose. Nothing to get up for." By 1926, however, he'd found the motivational center of gravity that would give his directionless life some meaning: Hitler and National Socialism. For the next two decades, Goebbels would continue to experience bouts of self-pitying depression. But his allegiance to the "cause" of National Socialism also provided him with the prop he needed to give himself an identity. In seeing how that identity gets built, layer by layer, the viewer can't help but be struck by how powerful the human need for a sense of purposefulness is--a need so compelling, in fact, that it can be satisfied even by the destructive mythology of the Third Reich.