Denial (2016) ☆ ☆ ☆

I was completely unaware of the true history behind this story, and I am glad that a movie has been made to convey it to a wide audience, for there are among us people who stubbornly refuse to accept historical fact.  Holocaust “denier” David Irving (Timothy Spall) sues author Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) for libel when she accuses him of lying about the existence of gas chambers at the Auschwitz prison camp during World War II.  She stands up to his bullying and the case goes to England’s High Court.

Mick Jackson’s film follows the court transcriptions to the letter, while the story explains how a group of dedicated barristers and solicitors defended Ms. Lipstadt’s right to call a liar a liar.  The movie delves into the legal process with sometimes excruciating detail, yet doesn’t neglect the moral side of the story.  What surprised me were the restrictions placed on Ms. Lipstadt’s participation by her own attorneys; their actions run contrary to common sense, in my view, but that is part of the story’s intrinsic drama.

Ultimately the story isn’t as satisfactory as I would have liked simply because evil is not totally vanquished.  The trial ends as it should, with historical fact accepted over revisionist history, yet even the legal verdict does not dispel Mr. Irving from continuing to try to persuade people that the Holocaust was a fiction.  The lies continue, and are still being spread today.  Denial is an important film because of the history it relates, and what it says about that history, yet I wish it had been more dramatically volatile.  ☆ ☆ ☆.  22 October 2016.

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