Denial: The Holocaust on Trial

Rachel Weisz stars as acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt in DENIAL, a Bleecker Street release. Photo credit: Laurie Sparham / Bleecker Street.

Denial is the true story of Emory professor Deborah Lipstadt’s court battle with a Holocaust denier almost 20 years ago. The movie’s release would have been perfect if it had come out closer to Yom HaShoah rather than the fall round of Jewish holidays but the September release will leave the film in the minds of the many Oscar voters.

Directed by Mick Jackson from a screenplay written by David Hare and based on Lipstadt’s book, Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, Denial stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, and Timothy Spall.

Libel cases in England work rather different than they do here in the United States. Rather than David Irving (spall) proving that he was defamed, it was up to Lipstadt (Weisz) and her legal team to prove the Holocaust occurred and to prove her innocence. In essence, the history of the Holocaust was, sadly, placed on trial. In one of her previous books, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, she had declared that Irving was a Holocaust denier. Sadly, these people do exist and he sues for libel after the book is published in the United Kingdom.

Solicitor Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) and barrister Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) decide to take on Lipstadt’s case, which lasted over a month in court. The high profile international case had an impact on how people would tell the history of the Holocaust. Moreover, Rampton’s chief strategy was that neither Lipstadt nor any of the Holocaust survivors would be called to the stand.

Lipstadt was relentless in her efforts to provide justice and remind everyone what happened in Europe during the 1940s. The scenes filmed at the camps are powerful enough that one should pause whatever they might be doing to give tribute to those who died. Jackson made the wise decision to end the film with a shot of the camp at Auschwitz. That shot alone is a profound moment.

Give credit to producers Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff for being inspired by Lipstadt’s story to get her book and later option the film. At a time when prominent voices in the United States and elsewhere, especially the Middle East, are denying the Holocaust, they stuck with their guns and continued to make sure this story gets told on screen after first hearing about it some eight years ago. For screenwriter David Hare, he had to read through the 40 days of court records in order to make sure that the movie would not be accused of any factual distortions.

While viewing this movie during the Ten Days of Repentance in the Jewish calendar, I couldn’t help but think of my aunt, uncle, and cousins who died as a result of the Shoah.

Denial is playing in limited theaters right now, expands into a few more cities on October 14, and opens everywhere on October 21st.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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