Elvis is alive as much as the Holocaust never happened. Mark the words of Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt, the American historian best known as author of the book ‘History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.’ This is the very book adapted into a film by the brilliant BAFTA and Berlin Golden Bear–winning screenwriter David Hare and directed by Mick Jackson.
‘Denial’ recounts the legal battle of Deborah E. Lipstadt (Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz) for historical truth against David Irving (BAFTA nominee Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system, in cases of libel, the burden proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team, led by Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) and Diana’s divorce advocate Anthony Robert Julius (Andrew Scott), to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred.
The script is the film’s forte. David Hare with witticism, humour, depth, and stamina retraces one of the most important legal battles of a woman and her team of lawyers fighting for the truth. ‘Denial’ resonates worldwide with audiences, exposing the way the judicial system of many countries can put in question what is blatantly in the right.
Rachel Weisz and Timothy Spall make a great pair of opponents. Weisz embodies the passionate Queens native historian who has at heart the suffering of her people. Spall embodies all the ignorance, bigotry, and blinded love for Adolf Hitler and the Neo-Nazi movements of David Irving.
Wonderfully nuanced performances come from Andrew Scott as the solicitor and Tom Wilkinson as the barrister, who defend Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books in the libel case. Their British poise and imperturbability mocks the absurdity of the British wigs-and-robes legal system and creates a contrast with Lipstadt’s fiery American point of view on the matter.
‘Denial’ is a film that reminds us to be mindful of Mark Twains’ often quoted refrain “Truth is stranger than fiction,” as we vividly retrace one of the greatest horrors in history and bring back justice to its memory.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi