Oct 20, 2016 by Marketing on The Nickelodeon Blog

by: Laura Catherine Smith

How do you prove that a historical event happened? Primary documents might come to mind: video footage, letters, witnesses and interviews. But what about when an educated person—well spoken, well informed, and convincing—says these aren’t enough? What do you do when you lay down your safe bet of evidence and they raise you a conspiracy? This is what Deborah Lipstadt, portrayed by Rachel Weisz, faces in Denial, a historical drama based on the Lipstadt’s real-life court battle against David Irving.

Lipstadt, a professor, named Irving as a Holocaust denier in one of her books, and he sued her for libel. He did, indeed, deny the Holocaust, but Lipstadt’s book accused him of manipulating historical evidence for a political agenda. His case for libel was founded on the principle that this wasn’t true: he didn’t manipulate evidence for a political agenda; he had valid and substantially true evidence that the Holocaust didn’t happen.

Denial is based on a true story but not like The Exorcism of Emily Rose is “based on a true story.” Every line of dialogue used in the courtroom scenes is taken from the original trial transcript. It adds a historical weight to the movie, but it also prevents modern day Holocaust deniers/apologists (yes, they exist) from claiming that the story was unfairly twisted or manipulated.

This historical transcript also contains the reality of the English courtroom, where seemingly backwards libel case laws forced the situation in the first place. At the time, libel laws placed the burden of defense on the accused, meaning that Lipstadt, faced with Irving’s insistence on the validity of his “proof,” had two options: concede the case and implicitly acknowledge the validity of his stance, or prove what the rest of the world already considered proven: the Holocaust happened.

Denial opens this Friday 10/21 and will be screening all week.