Thursday, October 20, 2016

Denial (Rhoades)

Front Row at the Movies

“Denial” Argues Truth of Holocaust
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

I’ve never understood how anyone could deny the Holocaust while there are still living survivors with numbers tattooed on their arms. Surely witnesses count for something.

Yet there are people who want to sweep history under the rug, as if Hitler were merely running a humanitarian camp for Jewish refugees.

“Denial” is a movie about such a man, British author David Irving (played by Timothy Spall) who sued American writer Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) over the issue. He claimed that she had libeled him in her book “Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.”

Under English defamation law, the accused must prove the accuser wrong, so Deborah and her publishers hired libel expert Richard Rampton (Tom Wilkinson) to defend her in court. In this true-life story, it was up to Rampton to prove that the Holocaust happened.

“Denial” is currently showing at Tropic Cinema.

Courtroom dramas have always been interesting fare for movies and plays (think: “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “The Verdict,” “Inherit the Wind,” etc.) but this one engages on a different level. Rather than proving guilt or innocence or a theory, here Rampton had to validate a harrowing historical event.

In her book, Deborah Lipstadt wrote: “Irving is one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial. Familiar with historical evidence, he bends it until it conforms with his ideological leanings and political agenda. A man who is convinced that Britain's great decline was accelerated by its decision to go to war with Germany, he is most facile at taking accurate information and shaping it to confirm his conclusions.”

These statements were clearly defamatory, so Lipstadt’s only defense was to prove these statements to be true.

The lawsuit -- David Irving v Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt -- is often referred to as “history on trial.” Despite the old saying that “history belongs to the victors,” in most cases it’s accurate.

No comments: