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A review of the american history x

It's almost impossible to turn on a news program, read a paper or magazine article, or engage in a political discussion without that word coming up at one time or another. White Rage has many forms - from the hoods of the KKK to the shaved heads and swastikas of today's apostles of Hitler - but only one terrible voice.

This particular social problem is not limited to the United States.

  1. But Derek takes this reasoning a step further and argues that blacks have a "racial commitment to crime. Despite a tendency to become preachy, this film, the directorial debut of Tony Kaye, is no mere piece of propaganda.
  2. As punishment, principal Sweeney Avery Brooks assigns Danny to write an essay on the impact of Derek's imprisonment for a one-on-one tutorial he is imposing called "American History X.
  3. Vineyard in the first place seems too convenient. Now, I'm not sure where he got that notion, but it was Voltaire who once wrote, "The best is the enemy of the good" meaning that when you shoot for perfection you usually only end up with a bullet in the foot.
  4. My main reason for wanting to watch this movie in the first place was to understand better how an extremist hatemonger could change.

It is a worldwide phenomenon, with antecedents in every "civilized" country. To date, one of the most powerful films about modern-day race hatred has been the Australian offering, Romper Stomper. It's virtually impossible to watch that film and not leave the theater deeply affected.

American History X (United States, 1998)

Although it treads similar paths, American History X does not offer the same overwhelming experience, but it has the capacity to disturb. Despite a tendency to become preachy, this film, the directorial debut of Tony Kaye, is no mere piece of propaganda.

American History X

It recognizes that, when it comes to racial and ethnic hatred, no one has the answers and there are no safe harbors. And American History X does not easily dismiss the rhetoric of pro-white groups.

Decoupled from their actions, some of their less-volatile arguments, borne of insecurity and frustration, sound plausible.

The problem is, such doctrine frequently takes kernels of truth and distorts them into grotesque lies.

American History X Review

In the world of the skinhead neo-Nazi, slogans replace thought, fueling a mindless hatred that is startling in its intensity. An avowed hater of everyone who is not a white Protestant, he has risen to the top of a ragged group of hate-mongers. Derek is the disciple of Cameron Stacy Keachwho stays behind the scenes to keep his record clean. Derek's followers include his younger brother, Danny Edward Furlongwho worships him; his girlfriend, Stacey Fairuza Balkwho thoughtlessly parrots his words; and a fat man named Seth Ethan Supleewho finds strength in a group that he lacks on his own.

Then, on one fateful night, Derek uses deadly force to stop a pair of black youths from stealing his car.

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He ends up in prison for three years, and, while on the inside, learns some hard truths about life from a fellow inmate Guy Torry and from the principal of his old high school Avery Brookswho takes a special interest in him.

But, when Derek emerges with a desire to change attitudes, he finds that words are not enough. American History X is in no way a comprehensive look at racism, hatred, or inner city violence.

Instead, it examines the various ways these elements tear at the fabric of a family.

  • Despite a weak backstory Derek's rage apparently having its genesis in childhood after a few bigoted comments uttered by his dad, while his equally implausible moral reversal comes from "meeting a nice black fella" in jail , Norton manages to deliver one of the most convincing racists ever while retaining his character's humanity;
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  • In addition to the dignified Brooks, Stacy Keach is nicely creepy as scar-faced skinhead godfather Cameron Alexander;
  • Another may be the ending, in which Kaye seems to lose faith with the power of his own movie and delivers what could be seen as a cheap twist in place of a considered conclusion;
  • Mostly the vibe is emotional, not intellectual, making white-power lifestyles and repugnant politics feel as attractive as rock music to angry young people, then giving the viewer a tragic fadeout to ponder over the consequences;
  • At its most forceful when it is not being heavy-handed or preachy, the blunt and brutal "American History X" is ultimately only as imperfect as we ourselves are.

The film emphasizes that actions have consequences, and that attaining redemption isn't as easy as saying "I'm sorry. The final sequence in the film is shocking not because it's unexpected, but because it illustrates this truth. The chief weakness in American History X is that we're presented with only one truly three-dimensional character.

  • Not all of Kaye's moves work - it seems unnecessarily showy for all of the "past" sequences to be in black-and-white, while the "current" ones are in color - but, on balance, Kaye displays ability in the motion picture arena he is already highly praised for his direction of TV commercials;
  • Los Angeles high-schooler named Danny Vineyard Edward Furlong offends his teachers and classmates by openly proclaiming his Aryan-supremacist views and praising Hitler;
  • Just getting out of prison, Derek, thoroughly repentant about his racist past and horrified to see his brother going down the same road, cooperates with the principal trying to set Danny straight;
  • Because American History X is a fine film, which has at its dark centre a towering performance that establishes Edward Norton as the most promising character actor of his generation;
  • Another may be the ending, in which Kaye seems to lose faith with the power of his own movie and delivers what could be seen as a cheap twist in place of a considered conclusion.

As portrayed by Edward Norton who gained 30 pounds for the role in one of the year's best performances, Derek is a fully-developed individual. We see the subtle elements that prime Derek for racist attitudes, follow the events that push him over the edge, then watch the trajectory of his life as his hatred spirals out of control before being reined in.

  • When Derek returns on parole after three years of his sentence, his brother David Furlong , whose doe-eyed puppyish looks bely his own gestating violent racism, is horrified to find that his brother has been reformed in jail and has not only grown back his mane but is determined to redress some of the harm he has done;
  • American History X may be flawed, but it's not easily forgotten;
  • American History X is in no way a comprehensive look at racism, hatred, or inner city violence;
  • Then, on one fateful night, Derek uses deadly force to stop a pair of black youths from stealing his car;
  • But Derek takes this reasoning a step further and argues that blacks have a "racial commitment to crime;
  • At its most forceful when it is not being heavy-handed or preachy, the blunt and brutal "American History X" is ultimately only as imperfect as we ourselves are.

Unfortunately, no one else in the movie comes close to being as real as Derek. Most of the other characters are thinly-sketched stereotypes the principal, the liberal sister, the weary mother or caricatures the skinheads.

  1. Does the movie convincingly explain that transition?
  2. The director is Tony Kaye, who has made no secret of his displeasure with the way New Line Cinema chose to edit the film he made a very public threat to have his name removed from the credits.
  3. The black principal Avery Brooks tries a creative solution, making Danny write a paper examining his older brother and mentor Derek Edward Norton , an avowed skinhead who served time for murdering a black youth in a streetfight.
  4. Aside from his relationship with Dr.
  5. And if Norton himself really did as much honing as the producers say he did, then the Renaissance man would appear to be just as gifted behind the scenes as he is in them. Sign in to vote.

Ultimately, American History X succeeds in large part because of him. The director is Tony Kaye, who has made no secret of his displeasure with the way New Line Cinema chose to edit the film he made a very public threat to have his name removed from the credits. Some have speculated that Kaye's actions are a publicity stunt; regardless, he is still listed as both director and cinematographer. Kaye imbues American History X with a relentlessly ominous tone, especially during the final half hour, when we're expecting something grim to occur.

Not all of Kaye's moves work - it seems unnecessarily showy for all of the "past" sequences to be in black-and-white, while the "current" ones are in color - but, on balance, Kaye displays ability in the motion picture arena he is already highly praised for his direction of TV commercials. American History X may be flawed, but it's not easily forgotten. American History X United States, 1998.