Director: Mick Jackson
Writer: David Hare
Released: September 2016
Starring: Timothy Spall, Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Andrew Scott and Jack Lowden
A shocking account of David Irving (Timothy Spall), a Holocaust denier, who takes Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) to court for speaking out against him. At its very core, its about free speech, and the abuse of it.
Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson): This case is happening to you, but it’s not about you.
While I knew there was a theory of the Holocaust never having happened, I wasn’t actually aware there was a specific Holocaust denier, and court case about it.
As I mentioned in my reviews of The Darkest Hour and The Founder, Denial is another good film-alternative to watching a documentary on the issue.
I did find the film interesting. I enjoyed finding out about the theories and what happened. While it seems rather obvious that sadly, the Holocaust did certainly occur, going about proving this 50+ years after the fact in a court of law proved difficult. The Germans ensured that much of the evidence was destroyed just before the end of the war.
Richard Rampton: We know what it is, it’s how we prove what it is.
I also didn’t realise how different the justice systems are between USA and UK. Irving took Lipstadt to court in the UK because Lipstadt would have to prove why Irving is wrong in order to be found innocent. Whereas in USA, Lipstadt would have been innocent unless proven otherwise by Irving.
Deborah Lipstadt: In the US there is the presumption of innocence.
Anothony Julius: Yeah. Not in the UK.
I was expecting it to be a gripping court drama, like A Few Good Men, where the outcome depends on what questions are asked and how they are answered, with loopholes and twists and gasps. I thought Lipstadt’s lawyers would trip Irving up and drill him on his theories.
Unfortunately this is only shown in a couple of scenes. In between, it’s mostly showing Lipstadt – a very loud American from Queens, being overbearing and shouting at her lawyers, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do. Despite her being an intelligent and well-read writer, these scenes portrayed her as a headless chook in a state of panic.
Either way, this isn’t where I wanted the conflict to be. The conflict should be in the courtroom with Irving.
Deborah Lipstadt: Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want. What you can’t do is lie and expect not to be held accountable… Slavery happened, the Black Death happened. The Earth is round, the ice caps are melting and Elvis is not alive.
Timothy Spall did a good job, as always. Although, he wasn’t as much of a prominent character as I think he should have been. (I wonder how Spall felt about taking this role of a very controversial man, about such a sensitive subject.)
Overall, it is an important story that I am so pleased has been told, but it had the potential to be told with more punch and gall and courtroom-based drama. Sadly, the movie didn’t stay in the courtroom, where I think it should have stayed. The movie was watered down and dragged out because of this.
Jodie’s rating: 6/10