The job of a historian is to impart the facts of historical events without prejudice or partiality. Unfortunately, some historians feel the need to inject their version of the facts into the historical record.
In the new movie, Denial, Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is a professor of Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She is also a published author. One of her books, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, was published in 1993. She devotes part of the book to outing those who openly deny that the Holocaust did happened or claim that the known facts are not entirely correct. One of the men listed, David Irving (Timothy Spall), sued her for libel in the UK.
Forced to go to England to defend herself against the libel claim, Deborah’s legal team is led by Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) and Anthony Julius (Andrew Scott). The Holocaust did happen, that is undisputed fact. But can Deborah’s legal team prove that David Irving changed the facts to suit his own view of history?
This movie hit home for me for a number of reasons. I am first a Jewish woman who lost family to the Nazi inferno. I am also an American who believes that while free speech is one of the corner stones of democracy, a line has to be drawn when it comes to interpreting opinion as undisputed fact. Especially when it comes to something like The Holocaust.
I really liked this film. I liked it because it did not beat around the bush. There was enough tension to keep the narrative going and keep the audience focused on the film. I also liked the feminist element in the film. Deborah Lipstadt, both on-screen and in person, is a no-nonsense, say what she thinks kind of woman. To let off steam, she would run. While in London, she passed by the statue of Boadicea, the Bronze age Queen who led a rebellion against the invading Romans. The imagery, at least from my perspective, said it all.
I recommend this film.
Denial is presently in theaters.