Denial online movie review - Holocaust denier David Irving loses his libel case
The last shot of the David Hare/Mick Jackson Denial adds an important coda to the film.
The narrative ends with Holocaust denier David Irving (Timothy Spall) losing his libel charge against historian Deborah Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz). She celebrates her win, warmly thanks her legal team for their diligence ? and for the tactical wisdom with which she earlier argued. Then she goes on her morning run, her usual life restored in light and spirit with no more fear for her security. It's a happy ending.
But the last shot qualifies that cheer dramatically. It's a black and white photo of the roof that the Germans collapsed to bury the gas chamber at Auschwitz. The camera draws in on the shot, finding and by nearing it enlarging a hole amid the materials of the roof.
That hole recalls Irving's first triumph in his trial. He contended that the absence of any visible holes in the roof's remains debunked the claim that there were vents in the roof for the cyanide that had supposedly slaughtered the Jews within. "No holes, No Holocaust," was his briefly successful summary. The last shot finds the holes Irving had denied. It ends the film with the bleakness of black and white, in contrast to the colours and brightness of Lipstadt's morning renewal of her life.
The hole swallows the screen. As the screen turns black the film closes on a saddening, contemplative darkness. Why are we feeling happy? What has been won? The true historian's record of the Holocaust has broken the credibility of the antisemitic self-styled "historian" who declared it a self-serving lie by the Jews.
The closing darkness suggests even that happy ending may be yet another ? denial. For the victory at the trial rebutted only one denier. And even he persists in his antisemitic slander, as we see when Spall is cut into a Jeremy Paxton TV interview with the indomitable racist Irving.
As Irving persists so do other dangerous bigots. When Spall's Irving tells reporters he's not a racist, indeed he has had several foreign staff, all girls with beautiful breasts, denier Irving segues into a more current case of dangerous lies and bigotry, the American presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.
The story of the racist liar David Irving resonates beyond his particular case to the more general danger of someone hungry for the power to promote his prejudice. The clips of Irving's incendiary speeches harken back to Irving's hero Hitler but also across to Trump's feeding the furies of hatred and fear. In this wider resonance the film rises above Aristotle's definition of "history" ? what happened once ? to his "poetry" ? the patterns that replay over and over in human history.
In fact, the victory over Irving's denial of Jewish history is even in itself an unconcluded campaign. When major powers ? including President Obama ? condemn Israel for the failure of the "two-state solution" they ignore the main reason for its failure. Since 1922 the Arabs involved have refused any statehood that would have required them to coexist peacefully with the Jewish state. Every negotiation since has broken upon the Palestinians' insistence (i) that Israel be forced to withdraw to the indefensible borders it held before the 1967 war and (ii) that millions of Palestinians ? those who fled Israel in 1948 to escape the expected slaughter of the Jews by the surrounding Arab states, plus all their supposed descendants ? be allowed return with full Israeli citizenship. That would swamp the Jewish citizenry.
Both Palestinian governments are pledged to destroy Israel. Hamas includes the eradication of the Jews in its constitution. PA leader Abbas has promised that not one Jew would be allowed to live in the new Palestine, which by his people's maps, textbooks, and banners would REPLACE, not join, Israel. (As it happens Abbas's doctoral dissertation was a denial of the Holocaust.)
In short, the denial of the imperilment of the Jews is a continuing modern issue and shame. Irving's defeat in court was a small victory but his impassioned evil and its pretence to principle and truth persist today. People, groups, even political parties, that support the BDS movement ? boycotting the supposedly apartheid state of Israel ? whether they know it or not are serving the intention of Berghouti, the movement's founder, which from its outset was to destroy the Jewish state.
When those lies and poison spread through Western political parties and when antisemitism in this new form pervades European and North American university campuses, taking the ending of Denial as a happy closure is itself a dangerous form of denial. The last shot tries to save us from that false confidence. The trial goes on.