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American History X
Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
Tony Kaye
Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard
Edward Furlong as Danny Vinyard
Beverly D'Angelo as Doris Vinyard
Avery Brooks as Dr. Bob Sweeney
Jennifer Lien as Davina Vinyard
Ethan Suplee as Seth Ryan
Stacy Keach as Cameron Alexander
Fairuza Balk as Stacey
Elliott Gould as Murray
Guy Torry as Lamont
William Russ as Dennis Vinyard
Joseph Cortese as Rasmussen (as Joe Cortese)
Jason Bose Smith as Little Henry (as Jason Bose-Smith)
Storyline: Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for killing two thugs who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother, Danny Vineyard's narration, we learn that before going to prison, Derek was a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that committed acts of racial crime throughout L.A. and his actions greatly influenced Danny. Reformed and fresh out of prison, Derek severs contact with the gang and becomes determined to keep Danny from going down the same violent path as he did.
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amazing movie overall
this is a movie that shows you both sides, it makes you think and changes the way you look at life and judge others. I consider this to be one of the best movie Edward has done. I remember the first time i saw it it changed how i looked at people taught me to never judge a book by its cover!
I'm so happy that our teacher made us watch this in school otherwise I would probably never have watched this movie!

It's a really powerful movie that shows how it works in a lot of places around the world. You get to see the seriousness of racism and it throws you back a bit when you realize the truth.

After watching this movie I was stunned and the entire move was dramatic, intriguing, and beautiful. The actors were amazing and I absolutely recommend this movie to EVERYONE!

As an anti Neo-Nazi movie this movie works really powerful. I think that its a really good thing that this movie is often shown in classrooms.
One of the most powerful movies I have ever seen.
I was expecting a kind of a moralistic movie with an overly present, almost preaching like message. The movie however turned out to be extremely powerful mainly due to the professionalism it was made with.

The movie its story is told 'beautifuly' in black & white and color. The quite original directing from Tony Kaye gives the movie a nice visual style and certain atmosphere. The story itself isn't that complicated or extremely original on its own and perhaps at most points even predictable but the way the story is told is phenomenal. This is not a movie with an happy ending or a movie that provides a solution to the racial discrimination problems. It shows what is NOT the solution to the problems and that everything that is occurring is like a vicious circle. The movie does not give a hopeful message but instead shows the dangers and pain you're causing to yourself and your close environment when you're thinking as a white supremacist.

As an anti Neo-Nazi movie this movie works really powerful. I think that its a really good and important thing that this movie is often shown in classrooms.

Edward Norton is truly fantastic in his role. He is very well believable as a Neo-Nazi as well as the reformed person he later turns into in the movie. It's almost like he's playing 2 different characters and he does that so extremely well. Also really good was Edward Furlong who we all long had not seen in a big production. Furlong and Norton are both acting well together in their scene's are highly believable as two brothers.

Also surprising good was the musical score by Anne Dudley who had already won an Oscar for "The Full Monty", the year before.

This was a movie that surprisingly impressed me. As a movie its extremely powerful and important.

Pure perfection
Edward Norton is one of the greatest actors there is, and American History X is his greatest performance. His actions, as well as those of Edward Furlong, Avery Brooks and especially Guy Torry, are flawless.

It's the story of how a bright kid, Derek Vinyard (Norton), with wrong ideas gets in to a skinhead-gang because of a cunning leader who uses him for his own purposes, to establish nazism in America. Its frightening to see how much Dereks racistic opinions makes sense when hes arguing for them, I almost found myself agreeing with Derek(!), and its easy to understand how some people have gone so bad because of group mentality.

Then, when we watch Dereks life in prison, it feels like i'm being redempted myself. He befriends a black guy (Torry), learns how he got more years there for stealing a TV than Derek got for his double murder, and he is astounded. He (we) suddenly see through his clever arguing, and discover how stupid his ideas really is.

This is a hands down MIGHTY movie, and one of the best you will ever see. A solid 10/10
exceptional drama about racism
The narrative.

A passionate emotive tale about racism in society where Norton (Fight Club) is juxtaposed with Furlong (Terminator 2) as brothers who contend with many racial issues in Southern America. The beginning is sensational. The camera comprises a slow moving long shot of a seaside, filmed in black and white to emphasise America's gentleness and emotion. The film continues its brilliance with a disturbing black and white flashback of why Norton ended up in prison and set the agenda to state the purpose of the film, that violence and racism is wrong in every society. The film preaches society values through the characters, especially Norton who is completely against the black stereotypes and wishes to take action to defend himself and his country. His speeches and actions through the film are remarkable and his character is very controversial, to pull this role was sensational and he thoroughly deserved his Oscar nomination for playing a character that is evil, violent and dominant but then sentimental and vulnerable over certain issues. The film is always engaging and extremely powerful. It entices older audiences with powerful moving speeches and violent actions by opinionated characters. Norton and Furlong were both outstanding and deserve praise for playing such emotional characters in this extremely violent film. The ending was remarkable, a shocking tactic by director Kaye who directed this film superbly throughout, but the ending is so powerful I was in tears. It was sensational the way it ended and will leave audiences asking many questions and wondering about their own actions and consequences. Flashbacks were a fantastic technique to emphasise the use of the character's lives and the significance of Norton's change. Always filmed in black and white the flashbacks set emotion and convince audiences of the brutality of the Vinyard lives.

Racism in society.

I'm not accustomed to racism and don't know enough about issues regarding Nazis but I can tell by watching this film that there was and still is something wrong in society. People are entitled to their own opinions about immigrants and other country values but to me it is wrong, there should be equality in the world and this film emphasises how wrong society actually is by encoding hate crimes and a powerful differentiation between different cultural groups.

It is so powerful and meaningful that it simply can't be ignored.

It will take a strong person to cope but it is an essential watch for the powerful racial, parenting, family, school and crime ideologies put forth.
Best movie of 1998
Powerful portrayal of Neo-Nazi movement in America. Told in series of flashbacks. Flawless acting by Edward Norton. Does its best to make the point that no one is ever right aand no one is ever wrong. I have a friend who was a Nazi and a racist. But upon walking out of the theater after this movie he hung his head in shame. This is why the film industry began.
Controversial, Violent, Explicit and Dark drama. But does it connect? And is it all intentional?
Original Score: 0.5/4 Movie: **1/2 (2.5/5) Quality: *1/2 (1.5/5)

Notice: This film is BANNED in Malaysia. I discovered a imported DVD copy in my school Library which is authorized by the government for educational purposes. That's how I came to view the film for myself. However… I can see why it is banned.

What's the film's purpose? To talk about all of that serious stuff? To talk about racism? To talk about violence? To talk about family? To talk about the relationship between two brothers (A short summary of the film will tell you about the brotherly relationship between the two main leading characters.)? Actually, the filmmakers's intentions are questionable. What's the purpose of the creation of this film? We cannot tell absolutely, except perhaps through interviews. However, when we want a film to talk about certain themes, it has to be done in a balanced way. Not way over the top (Which this film is.). Schindler's List (1995) is an example, but perhaps not American History X (1998). I watched quietly, without enjoying myself or feeling offended. Because the only reason that I wanted to examine the film, was to analyze it in detail. What I saw and thought about the film shall be described in detail in the paragraphs below.

The film's screenplay was by David McKenna, I wondered about plenty of the dialogue used in the film. All written by the film's script writer and said by the actors. A former Neo- Nazi Skinhead tries to prevent his brother from going down the same path as he did. I actually felt that many moments of the film rather strange, explicit, and finally, questioning it's intentions. Some feels out of place and unnecessary. It's got extreme language and disturbing violence, but does it connect? Look at all of that stuff, the opening sequence, the disturbing curb stomping scene, the things about racism, the plot and so on and so forth. What's with all the language? Certainly I braced and defended myself against all of that content, but as I said, it doesn't offend me (I mentally defended myself, but was never nervous.), neither does it let me enjoy myself. Don't learn any of that stuff, though, it's bad.

I braced myself for extreme explicit content, for I have read the content advisory and some of the plot long before my viewing of the film in the school library. The violence and language, it does tone down at times, especially at the "Family Moments". Sure, that's the good points, however there are many bad points as well. I DID see and hear a lot of profanity within the film,(First time I heard this much of the F word used in a movie) which can offend many people. I wasn't entirely because my mental defenses fended off every single insult. Unless utilized for the purpose of talking about themes, profanity cannot be used for it's potential of sparking controversy, and also offending people. 12 Years A Slave (2013) or To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), are two of the films that utilize dialogue to deliver powerful and impactful messages about serious issues and offering a look into them, at the same time expressing themes about them. Not American History X (1998) with all of it's seriously offensive profane words, used perhaps MOSTLY for entertainment purposes only. (Mostly doesn't mean none, but that little bit seems to be completely covered up by entertainment and profanity.) Over 200 uses of the F word? It's too much. Not just the F words, there's also other uses of racial slurs. Racism seems to be what the film is talking about, or so it seems. Racism of Blacks against white people? I dare not talk about racism, except that what Atticus Finch had said: "...all men created are equal.". No matter which side we are, respect other races, people of different skin colors from us. I'm not white, I'm Chinese. Meantime, I felt that the intention was more scaled towards entertainment rather than themes. Unlike 12 Years a Slave (2013) or To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

Reminding myself that this is acting and filmmaking, I doubt that this could be great filmmaking, considering it's questionable intentions, it's writing, it's acting. How does it all add up? What does it all add up to? What's the purpose? Some of it seems to be there, but it feels like an illusion, and a real thing. I doubt that the intentions of the film is to depict racism, considering all of that swearing and stuff. It looks powerful, but it doesn't really work due to the offensive content and mixed (and questionable) intentions that the filmmakers have. Other people in our country wouldn't have the opportunity to view this film, and I think that the best thing is to keep away from it. If you would like to give it a go, don't forget this term: "Guilty Pleasure". Because I read up about the film (And the content advisory on IMDb), I knew what's in the film and I wasn't surprised nor offended. I defended myself, and while you shouldn't forget what I said above, I've basically could easily forget much of the film's sequences. (And it's offensive dialogue, almost none of which was memorable.) Those memories of horror and guilty enjoyment lost instantly like tears in the rain.

If it were made with good intentions and emptiness of profanity. It could have been a great film(Purposes of depictions, remember what I said earlier?). But the result feels messy, dark, but not entirely empty. It's mostly the language that's the offensive part, the rest is some of the disturbing violence. Still, there are other worse ones out there, but don't get me started about them for my country has very strict media censorship. Refer to the opening notice as to how I got to view this film for myself. What do you think? That's entirely up to you.
Powerful film
I was looking forward to see this film as I missed it at the cinema and am a firm believer that Edward Norton is one of the most talented actors of his generation and is always worth seeing (even if some of his films have given less than he deserves). It was maybe better that I only saw it recently as I was able to enjoy it without all the hype and fighting over who did what to who, or all the comments from director Kaye as to his opinions of the film. Having seen the pompous fool interviewed several times, I find it quite self assuring that I don't agree with his opinions of it!

The plot is a mix of flashback into Derek's hate filled past (told in b&w) and the present (colour) where he is desperate to save his brother and family from suffering anymore from his 'sins'. As a basic narrative the film struggles at times to make a solid story and seems to be trying too hard to create confrontations to up the drama within the film. It still works mind you but this is not it's best asset.

The main thing the film does well is to be a very true representation of white male disillusionment. The film avoids painting these people as monsters straightaway (although makes no bones that they are confused, misled and wrong). The arguments and discussions they have in the film are not so far from reality that the characters seem fiction – the characters and the film's world seem very real. The film's message that hate is no way to live no matter who it is directed at may be a little simplistic but it is a valid point. One particular weakness which I felt was a little hamfisted was Derek's 'road to Damascus' experience in prison – it was OK but was far too easy given the character we had just seen brutally kill several black men.

The other main selling point the film has is a performance by Norton that simply ensures he steals nearly every scene he is in. In b&w flashback he is at his best – a larger than life character who is never allowed to just be seen as a thug. Norton acts out the various stages of his life well and makeup ensures that he looks younger when required. In the present he is less dominant but still is very good giving a different performance. Furlong is also very strong, although he only has a few scenes where he is able to be outside of Norton's shadow. Support from Balk, Gould, D'Angelo and Brooks is mixed – Gould's Jewish character is only in the film to allow for one scene to occur, while Brooks' righteous teacher is simply a 'morally upright teacher' with no meat on his character.
Jarring, in a good way.
This is one of those movies everyone needs to see. The reality in it is not beautiful. It can't be wrapped up in a pretty pink box. It's the kind of unbearable truth that should make you see that you are exactly the same as Danny or Derek, even if you say in your head, "I'm not that awful." It's painful because it has to be.

I think this is the film that has the capacity to revolutionize our flawed society, if only to promote discussion and change some minds.

Ignorance only spawns further ignorance, so see it; hear the message. I recommend seeing it with children old enough to tolerate violence and look beyond it. Talk about the themes of the movie with kids, as, in my opinion, this film was created to spark conversation about the issues of hate, prejudice and defining one's self. I suggest this film for anyone who plans on living realistically in this "quick to judge" era.
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