Denial is a 2016 biographical film directed by Mick Jackson and written by David Hare, based on Deborah Lipstadt's 2005 book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. It dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. It stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, and Alex Jennings.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byMick Jackson
Screenplay byDavid Hare
Based onHistory on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier
by Deborah Lipstadt
Produced by
  • Gary Foster
  • Russ Krasnoff
CinematographyHaris Zambarloukos
Edited byJustine Wright
Music byHoward Shore
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 11 September 2016 (2016-09-11) (TIFF)
  • 30 September 2016 (2016-09-30) (United States)
  • 27 January 2017 (2017-01-27) (United Kingdom)
Running time
110 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$9.2 million[3]

Denial premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2016.[4] It was theatrically released in the United States by Bleecker Street on 30 September 2016,[5] and in the United Kingdom by Entertainment One on 27 January 2017.

Plot edit

Deborah Lipstadt is an American professor of Holocaust studies whose speaking engagement is disrupted by David Irving, a British writer on Nazi Germany. He files a libel lawsuit in the United Kingdom against Lipstadt and her publisher for declaring him a Holocaust denier in her books. As the burden of proof in UK libel cases lies with the defendant, Lipstadt and her legal team, led by solicitor Anthony Julius and barrister Richard Rampton, must prove that Irving lied about the Holocaust.

To prepare their defence, Lipstadt and Rampton tour the site of the former Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland along with Professor Robert van Pelt who explains about the operation of the gas chambers, while the research team subpoenas Irving's extensive personal diaries. Lipstadt is annoyed by Rampton's apparently disrespectful questions on the subject; the team reduces her involvement in the case, arguing that she harms its chances of success. Members of the British Jewish community plead with her to settle out of court to avoid creating publicity for Irving. However, her team has a promising start when they persuade Irving, by appealing to his ego, to agree to a trial by judge instead of a jury, which he could have manipulated to his advantage.

Irving conducts his own legal representation, facing Lipstadt's legal team. Irving endeavours to twist the presented evidence for the defence. Lipstadt is approached by a Holocaust survivor who pleads for the chance to testify, but Lipstadt's legal team insists on focusing the trial on Irving.

Irving tries to discredit Professor van Pelt's evidence for the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz, claiming there were no holes on the roof for the Zyklon B gas crystals to be introduced. His soundbite "no holes, no Holocaust" dominates the media coverage. Furious, Lipstadt demands that she and the Holocaust survivors be allowed to take the stand. Julius angrily counters that Irving would only humiliate and exploit a survivor on cross-examination, as he has in the past. Rampton visits Lipstadt at her home to explain his approach and earns her trust. In court, he subjects Irving to a skillful cross-examination and exposes his claims as absurd, while expert testimony from respected scholars like Richard J. Evans expose the distortions in Irving's writings.

As the trial concludes, the judge, Charles Gray, worries the defence by suggesting that, if Irving honestly believes his own claims, then he cannot be lying as Lipstadt asserted. Gray eventually rules for the defence, however, convinced of the truth of Lipstadt's portrayal of Irving as deceitful. Lipstadt is hailed for her dignified demeanour, while her legal team reminds her that, despite her silence during the trial, it was her writing that countered Irving's lies and provided the basis for the victory. At a press conference, Lipstadt praises her lawyers for their strategy.

Cast edit

Rachel Weisz plays Deborah Lipstadt and Timothy Spall plays David Irving.

Production edit

In April 2015, Hilary Swank and Tom Wilkinson were selected to star in the film, based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt, with Mick Jackson directing, and Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff producing under their Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment banner with Shoebox Films.[6] Participant Media and BBC Films co-financed.[7] In November 2015, Rachel Weisz replaced Swank, and Timothy Spall joined the cast, with Bleecker Street distributing the film.[8] In December 2015, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings, and Harriet Walter joined the cast.[9] Howard Shore composed the film's score.[10]

Principal photography began in December 2015 and concluded by the end of January 2016.[11] Denial was filmed in London and at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Poland.[12]

Release edit

The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2016.[13] The film was released in the United States in a limited release on 30 September 2016,[14] and in the United Kingdom on 27 January 2017.[15]

Reception edit

Critical reception edit

Denial received positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 82%, based on 170 reviews, with an average grade of 6.80/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "If Denial doesn't quite do its incredible story complete justice, it comes close enough to offer a satisfying, impactful drama – and another powerful performance from Rachel Weisz."[16] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 63 out of 100, based on 34 critics.[17] The film had a production budget of $10 million and a worldwide box office of about $9 million.[18]

Accolades edit

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards 6 February 2017 Best Supporting Actor Timothy Spall Nominated [19]
British Academy Film Awards 12 February 2017 Best British Film Gary Foster, David Hare and Russ Krasnoff Nominated [20]

References edit

  1. ^ a b "Denial". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Denial". TheWrap. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Denial (2016)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  4. ^ Raup, Jordan (26 July 2016). "TIFF 2016 Line-Up includes 'Nocturnal Animals,' 'La La Land,' 'American Pastoral,' and more". The Film Stage. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  5. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (1 June 2016). "Rachel Weisz-Timothy Spall holocaust denier drama 'Denial' plots September release". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (27 April 2015). "Hilary Swank, Tom Wilkinson Starring in Holocaust Denial Drama". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  7. ^ Hipes, Patrick (27 April 2015). "Film Briefs: Hilary Swank & Tom Wilkinson to topline Holocaust Drama 'Denial' –". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  8. ^ Hipes, Patrick (5 November 2015). "'Denial' Holocaust-Denier Drama Now Starring Rachel Weisz Acquired By Bleecker Street". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  9. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (9 December 2015). "Andrew Scott Joins Rachel Weisz In Holocaust Legal Drama 'Denial". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 15 June 2016.
  10. ^ filmmusicreporter (15 June 2016). "Howard Shore to Score Mick Jackson's 'Denial'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  11. ^ Williams, Kimber; McRainey, Megan (11 February 2016). "Filming for 'Denial' comes to Emory". Emory Report. Emory University. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  12. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (30 September 2016). "Denial". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  13. ^ "Denial". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  14. ^ Evans, Greg (17 June 2016). "'Denial' Trailer: Rachel Weisz & Timothy Spall Spar In Fact-Based Holocaust Denier Drama". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Denial". BBC Films. BBC. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Denial (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Denial reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Denial (2016)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 30 December 2023.
  19. ^ Rahman, Abid (15 December 2016). "Denzel Washington's 'Fences' Leads Nominations for AARP's Movies for Grownups Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  20. ^ Ritman, Alex (9 January 2017). "BAFTA Awards: 'La La Land' Leads Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 10 January 2017.

External links edit