Denial: Book, Film, and Adaptation

About a month ago I saw the film Denial, which tells the true story about Deborah Lipstadt, who wrote a book about Holocaust deniers.  One of her subjects, David Irving, sued her for libel in Britain.  The court ruled that her book told the truth about David Irving, and she won the case.

The movie was very good, though I was ambivalent about the pacing.  It was quickly paced, but at times it felt rushed. But I don’t want to write a review; instead I want to talk about a specific scene.

In one scene, Deborah and her barrister go to Auschwitz as a part of their investigation. While there, her barrister begins to interrogate one of the historians, challenging him as to why there has never been a full scientific investigation of the site. Deborah becomes very agitated and angry, ultimately storming off. When I saw that scene, I thought the scene was overly dramatic and clearly staged.

Then I read the book.

When I did, I found that the scene happened much as it did in the movie; the barrister interrogating the historian, and Deborah becoming upset and storming off in anger.  As in the movie, she discovers that her barrister does this for a purpose, later on in the film.  He is preparing the historian to face cross-examination as a witness.

So many times in movies based on true stories, we find plot points simply too unbelievable.  They can either be unlikely or simply feel disingenuous. Then we discover they are real.

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