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Denial

Mick Jackson

Adapted by David Hare from Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial, Denial brings to the screen one of the most intriguing legal cases of recent British history, where American academic Lipstadt was sued for libel by controversial historian David Irving. Denial is a fascinating portrait not only of the individuals involved, but also of the UK legal system, which at the time placed the burden of proof in such cases on the defendant.

While giving a talk in Atlanta where she teaches history, Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is interrupted by Irving (Timothy Spall), who is determined to have his controversial revisionist views heard. When she later refers to him as a Holocaust denier in her book, Irving goes on the attack and sues for defamation. Lipstadt and her team have to gather and present conclusive proof of the extermination of European Jews from over 50 years earlier. Advised by her solicitor Anthony Julius (Sherlock’s Andrew Scott) and barrister Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) not to take the stand, Lipstadt has to give up the opportunity to personally defend herself to ensure Irving is discredited once and for all.

In a film about historical truths, writer David Hare is careful to stick to the facts of the case as much as possible, using verbatim transcripts from the trial for all courtroom dialogue. Lipstadt’s determination that the truth be recognised is an important lesson in today’s internet age, where it is all too easy for opinion to be accepted as fact.