denial & shaun of the dead


timothy spall’s brilliant portrayal of hitler-admiring and holocaust-denier david irving, tom wilkinson’s patrician barrister, andrew scott’s arch lawyer, and rachel weisz’s deborah lipstadt: all reasons to remember this film

it’s about holocaust-denial, of course, but in terms of genre it’s more a mixture of courtroom drama (what’s the judge going to say at the end?) and comedy of manners, as lipstadt is faced with quaint english traditions like our wicked libel system, fried breakfasts and rain

it also turns nicely on two senses of ‘denial’: irving’s denial of the holocaust, and lipstadt’s reluctant self-denial in complying with the lawyers’ wishes that she (and holocaust-survivors) don’t take part in the trial (the legal team insisted on this to deprive irving of the chance publicly to cross-examine these witnesses, and to ensure that the focus on everything was on irving himself – his racism and his deliberate distortions); it worked

shaun of the dead

my first of the pegg/frost trilogy: lovely, rich and fun; enjoyable cameos from familiar luvvies, and cleverly, ostentatiously, self-consciously, well made

insubstantial, but hey – i suppose a film purely about film has to be at least a little celluloidal

How they are related

Zombies are the easy meat of horror films; they look good, heighten the gothic, and are perpetrators of, as Mark Kermode puts it in his recent BBC minidoc on the genre, the ‘slow chase’. How they can be ‘killed’ when they’re already dead is a question of paradox and controversy – I think in Shaun it involves splitting the brain.

The Nazis’ victims, including the actually living survivors, are denied a living voice in Denial, but through their tenacious representative, and (hurrah) jolly old English legal expertise and sense of fair play, what, effect a powerful victory over those who would change the past to suit their present prejudices.

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