Rachel Weiscz Giver Her All in “Denial”
By Skip Sheffield
Rachel Weiscz is one formidable actress. She pours her body and soul into her role of a lifetime in “Denial.”
Weiscz plays Deborah Lipstadt, upon whose 1993 book the David Hare screenplay is based.
Lipstadt was a professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. David Irving (Timothy Spall) was a self-styled British historian and avowed admirer of Adolph Hitler. Furthermore he had published books claiming that the Holocaust never happened; that there were no gas chambers or crematoriums.
The Nazis covered their tracks very well in World War II. The most notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz, was leveled. We meet Irving in Atlanta, interrupting Lipstadt’s class and defiantly offering anyone $1,000 cash if they could prove the Holocaust happened. Lipstadt responded by branding Irving a charlatan and bogus historian. He responded in 1996 by suing her for libel and defamation of character.
The legal system is different in England. For one thing judges wear those silly silver wigs. More importantly the burden of proof is on the accused, not the accuser. To save her reputation and discredit Irving and others like him, Lipstadt would have to provide solid proof the Holocaust happened.
A courtroom- particularly a British one- is not very exciting. “Denial” builds its case slowly and methodically, with Tom Wilkinson’s Scottish lawyer Richard Rampton as the star player.
Timothy Spall usually plays lovable buffoons. In this case he is a buffoon all right, but a reprehensible lying villain. Evil comes in many forms. Sometimes it is from the jovial guy next door. David Irving had to be brought down. His positions on the Holocaust were indefensible. That Deborah Lipstadt had to prove the obvious shows what a brave woman she was. For that reason “Denial” is an important film.