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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Denial (2016)

An American professor (Rachel Weisz) of Holocaust studies is sued for libel by a British historian (Timothy Spall) who denied the Holocaust happened. Unlike U.S. courts however, the burden of proof is upon the accused, not the accuser. Directed by Mick Jackson (L.A. STORY), this is a riveting and compelling film documenting the continual denial by a small segment of the worst crime against humanity in the 20th century. Based on the actual libel trial of author Deborah Lipstadt and professional Holocaust denier David Irving, as a film, it may be handicapped by squeezing in several years into a slightly less than 2 hour film. While interesting tidbits are eliminated (like Irving making several overtures to settle out of court), what is presented is still factual and potent. The three central performances by Weisz, Spall and Tom Wilkinson are strong and David Hare's (THE HOURS) powerful screenplay gives them enough to flesh out their characters rather than talking mouthpieces for a cause. Interestingly, the film gives us no epilogue as is usual with films based on true stories as to what happened after the story. In 1996, Irving (who went bankrupt after the trial) was arrested in Austria (where Holocaust denial is a crime) and claimed he had changed his opinion and that the Germans had, in fact, murdered millions of Jews. I'll make no comment about his "sincerity".   

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