A controversy has been stirred up, 60 years after the end of the war, over how Nazis should be depicted. Should they merely be treated as objects of historical enquiry, or is it legitimate to want to enter into their minds?
In the new film Downfall, Bruno Ganz has put on a military overcoat, moustache and hat in order to perform Hitler. The makers of Dr. Goebbels Speaks employ a different strategy.
They have scoured Goebbels' diaries (found in a Russian archive in 1992, with 20-odd volumes now published) and assembled every scrap of archive film in which Goebbels appeared. Words and pictures come together via the voice of Kenneth Branagh.
The result is both a study in Goebbels' pathological character, and an extraordinary insight into the nature of propaganda. On this first count, one should merely observe that Goebbels is every bit as vile as you might think. But he did have a warped genius, and his message about how easy it is to lie and be believed ("The bigger the lie, indeed the easier") has regrettably not lost its relevance. A shocking, engrossing film.