American History X
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Some Legacies Must End!Edward Norton delivers a searing performance as a former neo-Naziskinhead whose life was almost destroyed by his own hatred--and who nowstruggles to prevent his younger brother from following in hisfootsteps.Seeking retribution for his father's murder and burning with rage, DerekVinyard (Norton) becomes the charismatic leader of a local White Powermovement. Despite his intelligence, Derek's incendiary actions culminatein a brutal murder and three years in prison. Now on parole, Derekreturns home to find his brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), being seducedby the same anger, bigotry and violence that almost destroyed his life.]]>
The film's basic message--that hate is learned and can be unlearned--is expressed through Derek's kid brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), whose sibling hero-worship increases after Derek is imprisoned (or, in Danny's mind, martyred) for the killing of two black men. Lacking Derek's gift of rebel rhetoric, Danny is easily swayed into the violent, hateful lifestyle that Derek disowns during his thoughtful time in prison. Once released, Derek struggles to save his brother from a violent fate, and American History X partially suffers from a mix of intense emotions, awkward sentiment, and predictably inevitable plotting. And yet British director Tony Kaye (who would later protest against Norton's creative intervention during post-production) manages to juggle these qualities--and a compelling clash of visual styles--to considerable effect. No matter how strained their collaboration may have been, both Kaye and Norton can be proud to have created a film that addresses the issue of racism with dramatically forceful impact. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
But this story is mainly about redemption. The redemption of the character in question, Derrick Vinyard. Only after he loses everything can he begin to see the horrible path that he has beaten for his younger brother who is speedily chasing after him. The unlikely friendship with a black prison inmate and the tutalage of his former principle are what helps him return to his humanity. The simple yet distanced solution to all the hatred and anger that he's felt most of his life comes like an epiphany: "It's just not worth it." A point that he vehemently drives into those around him.
Be forwarned, this is not a happy story. The ending is tragic yet depressingly real. Hatred becomes a vicious circle.
A talented cast led by those two Edwardians,Norton and Furlong of a story about a young neo nazi who is jailed for three years after the cold blooded killing of a black man attempting to steal his car.This flashback scene is not for the faint-hearted.He is unremorseful at first but eventually finds his epiphany within the stark reality of the prison walls.Enough said.
Despite the controversial nature of the film it does cut to the core hard and fast.I especially liked the flashbacks in black&white.An often used device which works well here,as does the quote by Abraham Lincoln towards the end,"...we must not be enemies but friends..." Many critics have been scathing of the one dimensional supporting characters and they may be right in that respect,Nortons exceptional performance not withstanding but this still does not devalue it from being one of the most critical and memorable films to come out of hollywood for a long time.One of my top ten for this last decade of the millenium and well deserved.
American History should be shown to all high school kids because the movie has such a strong message. The part of the movie that struck me was Derek's family. His family was emotionally and morally bankrupt by the past racism inflicted by Derek's deceased father and Derek himself. Ed Norton's portrayal as a young racist was chilling and convincing. You could feel his rage and hatred towards society and minorities in general. I thought Ed Norton deserved an Oscar, however the academy gets weak knees about issues such as racism. I would recommend this movie...
Brilliantly written by David Mc.Kenna and with top-notch performances from both its male leads (ably supported by Avery Brooks and Stacy Keach) American History X is an intelligent and powerful examination of the causes and existence of racial bigotry and hatred. It does not seek to sensationalise rascism or violence but neither does it duck the issues.Read more ›