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The Goebbels Experiment (2005)

Das Goebbels-Experiment (original title)
Through archival footage and dramatic readings of his personal writings, the life of Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, is examined.


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Credited cast:
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Narrator (voice)
Heinrich Brüning ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Engelbert Dollfuss ...
Himself (archive footage)
Wilhelm Frick ...
Himself (archive footage)
Joseph Goebbels ...
Himself (archive footage) (as Josef Goebbels)
Magda Goebbels ...
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Rudolf Hess ...
Himself (archive footage)
Heinrich Himmler ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Alfred Hugenberg ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)


The Nazi propaganda mastermind behind Hitler speaks in first person as actor Kenneth Branagh reads pages of the diary kept by the chief of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, revealing the man's most inner thoughts. Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) was a symbol of Germany's Nazi regime and a twentieth-century icon of maniacal cruelty. His name has been synonymous with cynical, unscrupulous, and at times successful, propaganda. The life of Joseph Goebbels is far more complicated and disturbing than labels like "genius of spin" or "Reich Liar-General" would suggest. The chronicle shows how Goebbels continually "restaged" and reinvented himself -- from his early days as a radical "popular socialist" to his tragic end. The film lets Goebbels speak for himself through the diaries he kept without interruption from 1924 to 1945, as never before seen historical footage from German archives traces the life of the second most powerful man of the Third Reich, detailing his initial attraction to the Nazi ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Release Date:

13 April 2005 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Goebbels Experiment  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,769, 14 August 2005, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$47,211, 26 February 2006
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Did You Know?


Narrator: Hitler had phoned. He wanted to welcome us and in fifteen minutes he was there, tall, healthy and vigorous. I like him. He puts us to shame with his kindness.
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User Reviews

Train-wreck fascinating!

SPOILER: The Nazis lose World War Two.

For my quids, Paul Joseph Goebbels was far and away the most interesting and complicated of the Nazi leaders. Goering and Himmler were motivated purely by self-interest; so was Speer, but he was also caught up in Hitler's cult of personality. Goebbels, on the other hand, was no mere stooge. He was an accomplished playwright and poet, who was committed to the National Socialist cause even before Hitler emerged as that cult's leader. In the diary which Goebbels kept from the 1920s until shortly before his death, he frequently questioned Hitler's leadership, and wondered if the movement was travelling the wrong way. (I'm astounded that Goebbels saved those diary entries after Hitler had consolidated his power.) Goebbels married a beauty queen, had six children off her, and juggled simultaneous affairs with multiple mistresses ... quite different from his boss Hitler, who was terrified of physical intimacy. If Goebbels had been the head Nazi, things might have ended very differently.

The simple but riveting film 'The Goebbels Experiment' is constructed round a brilliant idea. Silent newsreel footage — depicting the rise of the Nazi movement, the Third Reich, its glorious zenith and then its inglorious downfall — is shown on screen while Kenneth Branagh reads entries from Goebbels's diaries in chronological order, making no attempt to 'perform' the text as a dramatic role. Goebbels's chilling words speak for themselves.

For me, the most startling moment in this documentary occurred early on, when the Nazi party have successfully manipulated Germany's national election, becoming the duly-elected political force ruling Germany. When this happens, Goebbel openly exults (as did Hitler), saying that the last time he felt this excited was when the Kaiser declared war in 1914. I quite believe that Goebbels sincerely felt this way, but I was pulled up short by it ... because Germany's adventure of 1914 turned out to be a huge mistake, bankrupting the nation and destroying its national currency, as well as toppling the German royal family and humiliating the nation.

Did Goebbels never for one instant stop to think that the Nazi triumph in the national elections might turn out to be as much of a 'victory' as the Kaiser's war declaration ... in other words, an utter failure? Evidently not. We know what happened next. There are no surprises in 'The Goebbels Experiment', but this documentary is train-wreck fascinating, and I strongly recommend it. A full 10 out of 10.

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