Fallacies and Misrepresentation: A Review of Denial

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Today was my Saturday and because I didn’t have to work and I had nothing to do I decided to go see a movie. The movie I saw was Denial and I thought it was fascinating. The movie seemed to be very relevant to a particular American presidential candidate’s story. Without further ado here is my review of Denial.

Denial tells the true story of the libel court case between Deborah E. Lipstadt and the renowned Holocaust denier David Irving.

The film is a fascinating examination of conspiracy theorists and how they tweak evidence and manipulate ideas to support their conspiracies. But it wasn’t just other conspiracy theories that I was reminded of when I watched this movie; I was also reminded of the current Republican nominee for the presidential election in The United States, Donald Trump.

While in the trial, David Irving’s work on the history of the Holocaust is dissected. Many of Irving’s arguments are found to be filled with fallacies, like focusing on whether or not Auschwitz was actually used to exterminate Jewish people and then using the evidence against Auschwitz existing as a concentration camp to argue that the entire Holocaust didn’t happen.

In another scene Irving’s interpretation of a letter sent by one of the top Nazi officers is examined and it is proven that Irving misrepresented what the note actually said to prove that Holocaust didn’t happen.

In another scene Irving implies something during a speech and then testifies that he meant something different. He argues strategically, attacking someone when they cannot attack back and then claims that they are unable to attack back because he is right.

Everything that David Irving does seems so similar to the way Donald Trump has been conducting his presidential campaign, just replace Holocaust Denial with anything Trump says and you find that they are not making dissimilar arguments.

Beside to the political relevance of the story of a court case surrounding the conspiracy theory of Holocaust denial, the movie is riveting. It’s a story of two ideas pit against each other and personified by the protagonist and antagonist and the battle for truth that the movie sets up has such high stakes that you are constantly on the edge of your seat, waiting to see who is going to come out on top.

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Rachel Weisz, who plays Deborah E. Lipstadt, the protagonist, does amazing job of portraying this strong woman of high integrity. For the entire case of which most of the movie is set in, Deborah does not get to make a statement and her lawyers push her to the sidelines, yet she never feels like a character that is less important to the story, it is clear that the primary story of this movie is Deborah’s.

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Timothy Spall, who plays the antagonist, or rather villain, David Irving, gives a pitch perfect performance. Spall is such perfect casting; he performs the wormy role of a holocaust denier so well. But it is not just his performance of the Irving’s wormy-ness that is Spall does so well in, it is the quiet moments when you can sort of tell that Irving has fallen behind the rest of the lawyers and historians in the case. Spall plays this brilliantly.

More than anything Denial is a must watch for anyone who doesn’t see what Donald Trump is doing to the American election, beyond that it is just a great movie.

Thank you for reading, if you like this review or any other, please comment or like or follow this blog.

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