Denial, Film Review. Picturehouse@F.A.C.T., Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius, Alex Jennings, Harriet Walter, Mark Gatiss, John Sessions, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Pip Carter, Jackie Clune, Will Attenborough, Maximilian Befort.

In a time when such things are being questioned, that the extreme right have hijacked once more the very ground of what should be decency and respect and turned into a quagmire of ignorance and sick attitude, Denial is perhaps one of the most sensitive and timely films to come to cinema in recent years.

There is still a huge sense of unease, and quite rightly so, over dealing with people whose opinion over certain historical facts leave a taste so rancid in the mouth that it is almost hard to explain just how much they make you sick, their contempt for history is such that you know they are either blinded by their own personal prejudices or tainted by jealousy and fear; it is a fear, a blindsided shadow that makes humans seek out those they can blame for society’s ills over and over again and make them pariahs, exiles deserving nothing more than extermination.

It is perhaps a show of supremacy, of bullying, of wilful destructive emotions that urge the narrow minded into such a position as to deny something so hideous as the Holocaust, one of the true evils and defining moments that has scared the world since camps such as Auschwitz were liberated at the end of World War Two. Denial seeks to address that issue as the true story of David Irving and his attempt to run rough shod over established academic facts, over Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin books as he asserted that the Holocaust did not happen.

The scenes in court, although perhaps not quite as gripping in the sense of history that was unfolding, are just as harrowing as the pictures that resonate across time in the wake of World War Two, the death camps, the labour camps, the mass industrial scale of slaughter, it is harrowing because one man could influence a generation into believing such insanity, such lies.

Timothy Spall captures the insincerity of the emotions that were running high in this famous trial as he portrays the discredited historian, and with Rachel Weisz giving a consummate performance as Deborah Lipstadt and Andrew Scott in commanding form as Anthony Julius, Denial is a film that must be seen to make sense of the world, to show the contempt of feeling to those who would suggest that any historical slaughter and systemic abuse of man, woman and child, no matter their creed or background, was not real, that it didn’t happen. To those who dare suggest, the film shows exactly the punishment of ostracise that awaits.

Ian D. Hall