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Byron Shire
February 3, 2023

Cinema Review: Denial

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Because he knows his audience so well, the baby-man president has rejected stories that he doesn’t like as ‘fake news’. And surprise, surprise… denial of what is before our very eyes has for some unfathomable and boundlessly idiotic reason been accepted by the mob as a legitimate form of dismissal when confronted by an unpleasant reality (what climate change?). The British historian sic David Irving made a name for himself (and a pile of money, one suspects) by repeatedly claiming in his books that the Holocaust was a fabrication – that it never happened. As has been proven time and again, a lie is as good as the truth if somebody believes it and Irving’s warped and hateful re-writing of history found willing disciples. When the Jewish American author Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) published a scathing rebuttal of Irving’s argument, he took her to court, accusing her of libel, and the case was heard in London in 2000. Without stooping to give credence to the anti-Semitic bile of Irving, Mick Jackson’s film nevertheless enunciates dispassionately some of the salient points of Irving’s treatise, but he does so in order to have them shot down by Lipstadt’s team of lawyers and researchers. So the movie is not a re-examination of what should be established and irrefutable facts, nor is it a character study of a twisted, self-deluded man (although it was interesting to learn that as a boy Irving idolised Hitler), so much as is it an homage to the British legal system and to rational, objective thought. It is repeatedly made clear that for all her outrage and fiery commitment, Lipstadt must take a back seat to the cool, pedantic approach of the wigs and gowns who are defending her. Spall, terrific in a despicable role, Weisz, Tom Wilkinson as Lipstadt’s barrister and Andrew Scott as his pragmatic solicitor head a marvellous cast in which melodrama is averted – the visit to Auschwitz is chilling but restrained – and justice revered. Essential viewing at a time when our skies are grey with smoke from the pyres of common decency.


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