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The Goebbels Experiment (Unrated)

Release Date: August 12th, 2005 (NYC-Quad Cinema) by First Run Features.
Directed by Lutz Hachmeister.
In German with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Joseph Goebbels who, as leader of the National Socialist Party, used propaganda and power to help boost the public's support of the Nazi regime and himself.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Filled with excerpts from Goebbels' diary narrated by Kenneth Branagh, this is a very compelling documentary about a very dark figure in World History. With his loud voice and well-chosen words, he managed to manipulate people to support the Nazis. He did an exceptionally good job of rousing a lot of anger from the people of Berlin through a lot of propaganda, i.e. parades, just to further his political career. It is very interesting to hear how his crazy mind worked. The use of first-person narration hooks you in from the beginning. There is no additional commentary that adds anything compelling to his accounts. This lack of commentary is good in a way because it allows for one to focus on Goebbels without going off on any tangents. However, concurrently, it lessens the impact of important moments such as his rise to power and his connection to Hitler. His ultimate suicide is not given enough attention even though it comes so suddenly after Hitler's and that he ended up killing his wife and children as well. Nonetheless, this documentary does manage to capture many essential characteristics of Goebbels and transport you into his crazy mind.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, there is not much to think about because nothing is truly analyzed or commented about. It is not easy to get inside Goebbel's mind because his thoughts were often dark and insane. It is understandable, though, why he used propaganda to manipulate the public. In many ways, he was selfish. There is one moment in his diary entries when, perhaps, his true self emerges: when he admits that he was slightly nervous and weary before a big speech he had to give in front of the public. Perhaps he was not as confident as he appeared to be. It would have been more thought-provoking with any form of analysis through interviews. However, ones own interpretation is just as important

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Lack of commentary slightly weakens the impact of important, interesting moments during Goebbel's life.

THE BOTTOM LINE: A documentary about an important historical figure. Through its first-person narration, it does manage to be compelling and interesting despite its lack of commentary and analysis.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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