'The Goebbels Experiment'

Joseph GoebbelsNazi PartyAdolf HitlerLeni RiefenstahlKenneth Branagh

Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's infamous minister of propaganda, was such a candid diarist and made sure events of his times were recorded exhaustively in all media that in a very real sense he is the true auteur of "The Goebbels Experiment," a fascinating, veritable self-portrait, masterfully culled from a trove of archival materials, by Lutz Hachmeister and Michael Kloft

Goebbels, born in 1897, was a disillusioned Cologne bank worker in the early 1920s when, already a virulent anti-Semite, he began to heed the siren call of Hitler and the emerging Nazis. Like Der Führer, he discovered he was a natural, rousing orator, and Hitler in time found in Goebbels his propaganda genius.

Thin, unhandsome and iron-willed, and given to drastic mood swings, Goebbels grasped the power of film, radio and print once he brought them under his control, but he also was riddled with uncertainty and paranoia, ever sure he would be shoved aside in the party structure.

Much is known of Goebbels, so the withering opinions of his colleagues and enemies that he confided to his diaries makes the film lively and even amusing, as spoken by Kenneth Branagh. Early on he declares "Goering is a fat pig, with a clear case of megalomania." "Himmler hates me. We have to bring him down — Goering agrees." "Churchill is a revolting fat beast but an adversary we have to respect." As for Leni Riefenstahl, there's "no way I can work with a lunatic like her."

Goebbels never wavered in his loyalty to the Third Reich, and in his final broadcast, on April 21, 1945, he assured the beleaguered in Berlin, "We will repel our common enemy," even as the city was falling to the Soviets. Goebbels and his entire family ended their lives with Hitler in his bunker.

"The Goebbels Experiment," Unrated. Adult themes, wartime violence. Exclusively at the Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, (310) 274-6869.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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