Legal team prosecutes the truth

Denial – Trailer2:31

Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel.

Rachel Weisz is superb in Denial, a gripping courtroom drama. Picture: Supplied

Vicky Roach National Film WriterNews Corp Australia Network


Four stars

Director Mick Jackson

Starring Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall. Tom Wilkinson

Rating M

Running time 110 minutes

Verdict A true story, powerfully told

A POMPOUS autodidact who insists the holocaust never happened, the feisty Jewish scholar he sues for libel, and the wily, single malt-drinking barrister who represents her … Denial has the human elements for a gripping courtroom drama.

And the film adaptation of historian Deborah Lipstadt’s extraordinary story doesn’t disappoint.

Much of its success can be attributed to the calibre of the three central performances.

Timothy Spall is insidiously charismatic as David Irving, the self-taught Nazi historian who challenges the very existence of Auschwitz’s gas chambers.

Rachel Weisz puts fire in the belly of the ferociously intelligent and ethically-demanding Lipstadt, a passionate advocate for the victims of Hitler’s genocide.

Timothy Spall plays Holocaust denier David Irving in the film. Picture: Supplied

Timothy Spall plays Holocaust denier David Irving in the film. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Adding emotional texture to this rather idealistic mix is Wilkinson’s veteran lawman, Richard Rampton, whose appetite for justice is rivalled only by his appreciation of life’s pleasures.

Lipstadt’s problems begin when Irving launches a libel suit against her in the UK — where the onus of proof is on the author herself.

To win, she must prove in a court of law that the Holocaust really happened — which is much harder than it sounds.

Lipstadt assumes this will be achieved by allowing the testimonies of Auschwitz survivors to be heard.

But her legal team stonewalls this option on the basis that it will give Irving the opportunity to cross-examine the victims (past experience has shown survivors often get small details wrong, leaving them open to ridicule and humiliation.)

Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) addresses the media in a scene from the film. Picture: Supplied

Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) addresses the media in a scene from the film. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Instead, Rampton exposes the lies and distortions in Irving’s arguments through skilful cross-examination.

This is one satisfying case in which justice and the law do go hand-in-hand.

Denial seems extraordinarily topical in Australia given the current debate around section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Does free speech includes the right to preach lies and vent toxic spleen?

Lipstadt argues the “no” case eloquently.

Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) outside Auschwitz. Picture: Supplied

Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) outside Auschwitz. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

“Now, some people are saying that the result of this trial will threaten free speech. I don’t accept that. I’m not attacking free speech. On the contrary, I’ve been defending it against someone who wanted to abuse it. Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want. What you can’t do is lie and expect not to be held accountable for it. Not all opinions are equal. And some things happened, just like we say they do. Slavery happened, the Black Death happened. The Earth is round, the ice caps are melting, and Elvis is not alive.”

Denial is now showing (opens April 13).

SOURCE: newsnow entertainment