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Inventing Dr. Goebbels

Inventing Dr. Goebbels
Lutz Hachmeister

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 01/2004

With the exception of Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s propaganda minister, was the most filmed politician of the twentieth century. But the image of him as the mouthpiece of that most odious of causes is only part of the reality. True, no one else had studied and initiated the methods of propaganda so intensively, but Goebbels knew only too well the limitations of his tools. “What he wanted,” says director-producer Lutz Hachmeister, “was political power. He saw his work as propaganda minister as just a step on the path to complete political control.”

From humble beginnings to becoming the youngest minister in Europe to the last Chancellor of the Third Reich is unusual enough. But it is a claim that many other leading party and state functionaries could also make. What separates Joseph Goebbels’ biography is the combination of untrammeled self-promotion within his propaganda work: this creature of the media was also his own media creation.

“His life,” says Hachmeister, “was cinematographed and media-massaged like no other’s before. He wasn’t just minister for film in the sense that he immersed himself in the minutia of the Third Reich’s film industry, he lived a filmic life with all the elements of dream and ecstasy, imagination and planning, highs and lows which belong to the very best directorial performances.”

How else is it possible to explain a speech he gave to his remaining staff at a screening of the mega-budget film, Kolberg, on 17 April 1945, just before the Third Reich finally wrapped?

“Gentlemen, in one hundred years people will show another wonderful color film which depicts the terrible days we are now living through. Don’t you want to play a part in this film, to be awakened to new life in a hundred years? Each of you now has the opportunity to select the part he will play in this film... Stay firm, so that in one hundred years the audience does not boo and whistle when you appear on the screen.”
Genre History
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2004
Director Lutz Hachmeister
Screenplay Michael Kloft
Cinematography Hajo Schomerus
Guido Krajewski
Dieter Schleip
Production Company HMR Produktion/Cologne, in cooperation with Spiegel TV/Hamburg, ZDF
Format Super 16, color
Shooting Dates Berlin, Heiligendamm, Venice, Athens, September 2003 - April 2004
Sound Technology Dolby
Festivals Montreal World 2005, Rio 2005
With backing from Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

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