Denial delivers satisfying court room drama

Friday, May 12, 2017

Denial
Directed by Mick Jackson
Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson & Timothy Spall
In Cinemas now

In 1996 the vile “historian” David Irving sued US historian Deborah Lipstadt for libel. She had labelled Irving anti-Semitic because of his persistent claims that the Nazi Holocaust had not occurred.

Irving sued Lipstadt in London because under Britain’s libel laws, the burden of proof would be on her. In other words, Lipstadt would have to prove the Holocaust actually did occur.

This dramatic reconstruction of the lengthy proceedings is a very satisfying court room drama. To create some dramatic tension, the script portrays Lipstadt as a somewhat naive, pragmatic Yankee a bit at sea in the stuffy confines of British court rituals.

Actress Rachel Weisz is considerably younger than Deborah Lipstadt was at the time of the trial. Yet the film is littered with men whose wisdom is indicated by their wrinkled features. Hollywood can take on anti-Semitism, it seems, but not sexism.

Whatever misgivings the viewer might have about some aspects of the story-telling, the fact that Lipstadt actually slammed Irving was a victory for humanity.

Right now in Australia, the far right is using the debate around section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act as their battering ram against all protections from racial discrimination. This film will give heart to those determined to end bigotry.

 

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