When university professor Deborah E. Lipstadt includes World War II historian David Irving in a book about Holocaust deniers, Irving accuses her of libel and sparks a legal battle for historical truth. With the burden of proof placed on the accused, Lipstadt and her legal team fight to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. Based on the book "History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier."
In today’s world, it is very hard to even consider entertaining the thought that the Holocaust did not occur. For us it is well documented history and yet a collection of academics over the years have attempted to gain traction with their Holocaust Denial movement. Of course, there will always be groups who don’t want to face something or want to profit from a different view and in time they will throw shade onto things via the use of denial and misinformation. Hence why in 1993 author Deborah Lipstadt released her book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory. As a result of this she ended up getting a pat on the back in the form of a lawsuit accusing her of libel towards a rather shady historian, David Irving.
While I struggle to grasp how anyone could not only disbelieve that the Holocaust happened, but then to also attempt to push this on the world, this is a story of a very strange moment in time and the weirdness that is British laws of libel. While most of the world would put the owness on the person suing to prove their claim, in Britain it is up to the person being sued to disprove the claim. Perhaps it is just me but this seems very backwards. Yet here we have a famous case that faced exactly that.
As the story began, I felt such disgust for this character of Irving. This in part came down to the amazing portrayal by Timothy Spall. Here is an actor who has so deeply embodied some brilliant roles over the years and even popped up today as the answer to a question on The Chase. (The question relating to his character on the 80’s British sitcom Alf Weidesen Pet) While I severely disliked the character at the start of the film, I found myself beginning to feel sorry for this deluded man, who was so caught up in his lies that he couldn’t even see truth anymore. There is a brilliant scene in the film where he is shown how he has tried to teach his own small children to be racist and yet he doesn’t seem to be able to see that he is racist and this was a racist thing to do.
Although the editing and pace of the film seemed to fit more of a BBC made for tv drama style, the cast was brilliant and the story compelling. More than enough to keep me fully engaged throughout. I don’t remember looking at my watch at any stage, which is a great sign for a film.
On a side note, my guest for the film told me afterwards that he was pretty sure that buried in his boxed library were some titles by the afore mentioned David Irving. The film had encouraged him to find said titles and burn them and potentially in a somewhat ceremonial manner. It is that sort of emotion and response that a story such as this draws out. Another sign of a good film.
Some of the film was shot on site in Auschwitz and this was so very deeply moving. Plus, all the dialogue in the courtroom scenes is taken verbatim from the trial records. Perhaps these two aspects are just another part of why this film felt so real and authentic.
A great story told by an amazing cast brings to life one of the most important and interesting court cases of our time.
Releases: 13th April 2017
Rating: - Contains adult themes
Duration: 109 minutes
Rating: - Contains adult themes
Duration: 109 minutes
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.
Director: Mick Jackson (L.A. Story, The Bodyguard)
Twice in the movie Deborah Lipstadt is shown out jogging in London whereupon she stops to gaze upon the statue of "Boadicea and Her Daughters" on Westminster Pier. Boadicea was famous as a warrior queen who led an unsuccessful uprising against the Romans.
The internal court scenes were filmed at County Hall in Kingston Upon Thames England. There is a recreation of the Old Bailey court there which was used as a real court until the early 90's and now is used solely for film and TV work.
Richard Rampton tells Deborah Lipstadt that his last brief had been from McDonalds. This was the so-called McLibel trial in which the fast food chain McDonalds sued two campaigners for libel over leaflets criticising the company. The McLibel trial was the subject of a TV dramatised reconstruction (McLibel! (1997)), and a documentary (McLibel: Two Worlds Collide (1998), later updated as McLibel (2005)).
First theatrical film directed by Mick Jackson in 14 years. His previous theatrical film was The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest (2002). He did direct the made for TV movie Temple Grandin, in 2010
Although the case was filed in 1996, it did not got to trial until the early months of 2000; the verdict was announced in April of that year. In scenes where Deborah is jogging through London, one can see the London Eye in the background. The London Eye was finished in 1999.
Andrew Scott and Mark Gatiss have previously acted together in the BBC series Sherlock. Scott plays James Moriarty and Gatiss plays Mycroft Holmes, and also co-created and produces the show with Stephen Moffat.