The differences between this side of the Atlantic and the U.K. are numerous. One of the more intriguing ones is the difference between the two legal systems. One aspect of Mick Jackson’s (The Bodyguard, L.A. Story) film is about that whereas the bulk is about the truth. More specifically, the truth in regards to the Holocaust. Now, Holocaust movies have been done over and over again to the point where I begin to wonder if there is any new territory to explore. This film shows me I was wrong in that, yes, it was about the Holocaust, but mostly it was about the truth and how memory and perspective plays into it.
Denial is based on a true story and it really opens your eyes and mind to the fact that there are people out there that make a living off of lying. And I don’t mean actors or writers, rather actual people who pass themselves off as intellectuals or experts on subjects. In this film the lying comes out of a place of denial or refusal to believe that what obviously happened really happened. That is a rather frightening thing to get your mind around as a viewer. I am not naive enough to believe that no one lies, but to this scale? And made me wonder about who else out there is doing the same thing and has people believing them?
History as a whole is now called into question. How it has been recorded and then transmitted really depends on who did the writing. Women have largely been left out due to the fact that it is men who were/are the primary mover shakers and then because men did the writing women were edited out. If you read history books it is like women did nothing of note or precious little for centuries. Which we all now know is untrue. The film really gives you food for thought in regards to all that.
Historian and writer Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz – The Mummy, The Constant Gardener) is being called to the mat over a book she has written. The book is about the Holocaust and in it she has exposed as a liar Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1). He does not take this well and sues her for libel.
In the British system the burden of proof falls on the accused, so it is up to Deborah to prove she was not slandering Irving. As such, she and her legal team, led by Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott – Spectre, Saving Private Ryan) and Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson – Shakespeare in Love, Batman Begins), had to prove that the Holocaust happened. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Not a simple thing.
There are slow moments galore in the film which might not be appealing to some out there, but they still managed to retain my attention. Great fun to watch such talented actors as Weisz, Wilkinson and Spall sink their teeth into nuanced material like this.
-The Making of Denial