Question: Where do the majority of people live? Answer: In Denial!
We all live in denial from time to time, but David Irving, a “holocaust denier,” has no peer. This film is a true story based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier” (04/06).
Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a Professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She has written a book, “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory” (12/92). In the book, she calls out a self-taught British historian, David Irving (Timothy Spall), who is a prominent holocaust denier. These people assert that the death of 6 million Jews in Nazi concentration camps is a hoax, perpetrated by a Zionist conspiracy. (Apparently, Hitler was really a great guy who was just misunderstood and unfortunately failed to launch an effective social media campaign.)
Irving, narcissistically enraged by what Lipstadt wrote, then sues her and her publisher (Penguin Books) for libel. Unlike in the United States, in England, the Defendant must prove her innocence. Therefore, Lipstadt must prove that the holocaust actually occurred and that Irving deliberately, and with malice, distorted the historical facts. Although this case might seem like a “slam dunk” – or at least a lay up – it turns out that this is no easy task, especially since the Germans destroyed most of the evidence.
Lipstadt refuses to settle and hires a famous Solicitor, Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott) – who was Princess Diana’s divorce attorney – and a ferocious Barrister, Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson). (In England, the court strategy is designed by the Solicitor while the trial attorney is the Barrister.) The film is primarily about the trial and how Lipstadt (somewhat of a control-freak) had to go against her best instincts and put her trust in her exceptional legal team.
The acting is excellent by the four leads, and I think Spall should get serious consideration for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. I highly recommend the film for Jews, but anyone interested in legal dramas and/or history will enjoy it.