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The personal details of Goebbels' life

October 14, 2005|Kevin Thomas

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 Fuhrer, 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.

--Kevin Thomas

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

*

'Thawed' warms up with sly wit

"Never Been Thawed" is wickedly funny and subversive. The idea of spending time with members of the Mesa Frozen Entree Enthusiasts (about a dozen dorky people aged about 30 or so in a bland Phoenix suburb) takes getting used to but pays off.

As the group plans its first convention, the film's subversiveness starts setting in. The club's founder, Shawn (Sean Anders, the film's director and co-writer), has turned his punk band into a Christian rock group to truly sacrilegious effect. Shelly (Shelly Frasier) is an Intercourse Prevention Hotline counselor at the William Jefferson Clinton Abstinence Clinic, with a crush on Shawn. Shawn's bandmate Al (Allen Zwolle), whose work at a children's hair salon requires him to wear clown makeup and refer to himself as a "smilist," is secretly in love with Shelly. This micro-budget movie is a sharp display of off-the-wall humor.

--K.T.

"Never Been Thawed," Unrated. Adult humor. Nuart through Oct. 29, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West Los Angeles, (310) 478-6379. Unrated. Adult humor.

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