Weisz plays the professional historian who is astonished to find that people expect her to debate on equal terms with sinister deniers. Irving, played with tremendous oleaginous complacency by Spall, disrupts her lectures and sues for libel in the British courts, which favour the plaintiff.
With the burden of proof placed on the accused, Lipstadt and her legal team fight to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. Weisz retains the solicitor Anthony Julius, a cool customer well played by Andrew Scott, who plans a shrewd legal tactic that involves the case being heard in front of a judge, with no jury, to minimise Irving’s theatricals.
Julius has to actually ask Irving in the presence of the judge (Alex Jennings) if he is agreeable to this, on the grounds that a jury of laypersons would not be able to get to grips with the case’s complex technicalities. Irving assents and Scott and Spall cleverly show how Irving is fatally snared by this appeal to his intellectual and social vanity.
Based on the book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.
Dir: Mick Jackson, 2016, 1hr 49min. PG-13.
Stars: Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall
In commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. This PWYF film screening is supported by Leeds City Council.