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Denial - DVD Review

4 stars

When most people hear the word “history,” they think of a dry, boring subject full of dull facts to memorize. But that’s not the impression you get from Denial, based on the true story of a historian in the 1990s who takes on a Holocaust denier in court. Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Wiesz) is a Jewish American professor who wrote a book called Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, in which she had repeatedly mentioned the British historian David Irving (Timothy Spall). “I think I called him a liar and a falsifier of history,” she tells a friend later. Irving, in response, wants to sue her for libel in British court. For Deborah, the problem with a London jurisdiction is that it puts the burden of proof on her. “Innocent until proven guilty” is the rule in America, but in England it’s the reverse: Deborah’s legal advisors have to prove what she wrote is true, that Irving knowingly lied in order to spread both antisemitism and sympathy for the Nazis.

Before the trial, David Irving decides to represent himself in the courtroom. Meanwhile, Deborah fumes that not only can’t she herself testify but neither can any actual Holocaust survivors. “Our strategy is to keep the focus on Irving, and Irving alone,” her British attorney (Tom Wilkinson) says. “Everything you have to say, you’ve said in your book.” The headstrong Deborah has to live with this strategy of her legal team, although it becomes more and more painful—especially when a survivor confronts her. As the trial goes on, she struggles to keep quiet as she is attacked as a Jew and as a professor. The denial of the title has more than one meaning.

Because the story is based on real events, anyone can Google the libel trial and see how it ended. So the ruling comes as no surprise. But it is gratifying to see how Deborah’s team arrives at their destination, so to say. (Of course, the completely unrepentant Irving spins the outcome his own way. Despite his legal defeat he brags about Lipstadt not appearing on the stand, for instance.)

The acting in Denial is excellent throughout the cast, and Rachel Weisz shines as Deborah. Although the plot requires more thought than typical Hollywood movies, it makes important points about the nature of history and the existence of objective truth. In the words of Daniel Moynihan, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”


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Denial - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and brief strong language.
109 mins
: Mick Jackson
David Hare
Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall
: Biography | Drama
Based on a true story.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The coward threatens only where he is safe."
Theatrical Distributor:
Bleecker Street Media
Official Site: www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/denial
Release Date:
October 21, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
January 3, 2017
Synopsis: Acclaimed writer and historian Deborah E. Lipstadt must battle for historical truth to prove the Holocaust actually occurred when David Irving, a renowned denier, sues her for libel.


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Denial - DVD Review


DVD Details:

Home Video Distributor: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray
- January 3, 2017
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
 English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Discs: DVD Disc, single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A/1



  • None

Special Features:

The Making of Denial: This is an almost 4-minute long featurette showing short clips of Denial, along with comments from the stars and makers of the movie. It also lets the real Deborah Lipstadt speak alongside Rachel Weisz. The supplement is intriguing as a sort of encapsulation, and it’s good to see the author herself.

  • Theatrical Trailer


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Denial - Movie Review