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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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Excellent, powerful movie!
This movie really blew me away! Everything in this movie is good, the acting, the cinematography, the music,... Director Tony Kaye did an excellent job directing this film. Its nicely done with the black & white and colour scenes. Edward Furlong does an excellent job, but it's Edward Norton who gives this film so much power. His acting is amazing. After seeing this movie, I think Edward Norton is one of the best actors in the world. The cinematography is also excellent! Also the music is very good. The film stays in your head for a while after you saw it, because its a pretty harsh, raw movie. If you're looking for a movie that will give you a happy feeling afterwords, don't watch it! This film is a must-see! Its really amazing!
Its amusing how one-dimensional this film is.
So Edward Norton is supposed to be a chameleon kind of actor, abode in the upper echelon of thespian professionalism with a distinctive character and absolutely a cut above the rest of the Hollywood illiterates. I've heard of this movie for so long but never intrigued by the signal-blazing poster and preaching-sound plot. But then I watched it by default and become so angry that compelled myself to rant out my rage. Its rub*ish, don't sully your eyes by it.

Honestly, every character is black and white. Long overdue prodigal son who used to be a loving a caring straight A student got lectured by his racist old man and SUDDENLY abandon all his DOUBLE PHD black teacher's words and starting to mutter extreme racist remarks on news report when his "honest hardworking" firefighter dad got shot and killed. Then unsurprisingly he was claimed to be brainwashed and apparently become the rabbis of his secret guild. And his uncontrollable ANGER(so symbolic and repetitively accentuated in the movie that you started doubting if the director thinks the audience are all eight year old) moved to his family, to defend his belief and stand out for his horrendous looking lady friend. he even stuffed a chunk of beef into his sister's mouth to shut her up. AND he killed the guys who tried to sneaked his car through the most thrilling way(I didn't know if you put mouth on curbs and kick it could kill a man). I'm flabbergasted how the storyline goes exactly as I predicted(I learned in primary school if you want to salute a kind of concept you first suppressed it and then through a heavenly epiphany you realized the folly of you and the mightiness of the concept, say the virtue of be punctual), I thought maybe deviated a little from the standard via but sadly, sadly it doesn't. the linchpin of the movie got his second life and love education behind bars by his fellow linen worker and a f*ck in the a*s.

Every character is either purely good or evil, all deprived of sanity and love and proper education. The fat bug killer is a racist for a reason, he simply is insolent and grumpy as hell about his life, he eats jelly beans with a bow; the mason-vision gangster are dramatized and demonized to present the very extremity of racism, which itself desensitize the audience and shift the concept of racism to terrorism. Apparently the director itself is undereducated but ridiculously bold to produce a film regarding racism without do much research about the itself. You'd startled by the level of superficiality and phoniness of the film. They even spent 3 mins on a black versus white basketball game.yeah.
Not a perfect film, but very good - Norton's performance is the highlight
"American History X" is a bold and disturbing movie about family, racism and our own self-perceptions. Its main character is Derek (Edward Norton), a neo-Nazi skinhead who is released from jail to find his younger brother (Edward Furlong) descending down the same corrupt path as he once walked.

In jail Derek learns a few things about life, and racism, or more appropriately, himself, and after becoming a free man again takes it upon himself to set his brother on the straight and narrow path.

"American History X" is not a pleasant motion picture. It begins in flashback, as Derek murders two black kids trying to break into his car. His brother, who idolizes Derek and later mimics his lifestyle, witnesses this event. It's a good message about negative influences, along with everything else.

Much has been made of the film's controversy and lawsuits. Director Tony Kaye disowned the film after Norton (allegedly) re-edited footage to give himself more screen time. Kaye tried to have his name changed on the film credits, but by this time he had already taken out a complaint in several magazines, which are against the rules of the Director's Guild. He was therefore denied the opportunity to credit the work as "directed by Humpty Dumpty." Then, musical band Anti-Hero complained to New Line Cinema (the film's international distributor) because one of the Nazi characters featured a tattoo of their band. They later wrote a song, called "NLC," bashing the company.

Despite the hard-edged controversy it's still a very good film, above all else extremely well-acted and featuring a gripping storyline – even if the direction isn't always up to par.

Edward Norton is simply superb in his role, showing extremely raw talent a mere two years after his film debut (in the Richard Gere thriller "A Primal Fear"). Norton careens between the role of a raging, vicious supremacist and a kindler, gentler version of the same character; a metamorphosis so convincing it's hard to believe it's just one actor.

The rest of the cast is good as well – Furlong gives the best performance of his career and Beverly D'Angelo and Stacy Keach have strong supporting roles. (D'Angelo in particular, who portrays a sleazy alcoholic – a stretch compared to her usual Normal Mom roles in the "Vacation" movies.) "American History X" isn't exactly rewarding of all the praise it has been lavished since its release (mainly from viewers rather than critics, who were less kind) – it isn't the best movie of its kind or even a flawless one. The black-and-white photography isn't on the same level, visually, as "Raging Bull" or "Schindler's List." The preaching is a bit heavy-handed at times.

But it still manages to convey an important lesson and boasts great acting complimented by an (overall) impressive, gut-wrenching screenplay. A must-see for all who can stomach its content.
"Now we can ignore each other in peace..."
Past and present collage of a youthful neo-Nazi skinhead in Venice Beach, California, his life going into a tailspin after the gang-related murder of his father. After killing some neighborhood thugs, the skinhead serves jail time and is eventually paroled (and reformed), yet he can't seem to straighten out his erratic family, particularly his younger brother who seems intent on following down the same ugly path. Director Tony Kaye puts the squeeze on us right from the start, staging a blacks vs. whites basketball game as if it were Epic Human Drama (photographed in black-and-white, with slow-motion effects and a heavenly choir). The superlative performances nearly carry the picture, yet screenwriter David McKenna lays on the be-true-to-yourself rhetoric with a trowel (and yet lets the opposite side get their licks in too, whittling the film down to a battle of speeches ladled with words like 'empowerment'). The jailhouse scenes are the strongest, but the family drama and the sidebars with the police (who also get to make speeches) are uncomfortably contrived. ** from ****
For the most part I quite enjoyed this film. But there is a genuinely contrived angle to the story and characters that just doesn't ring true. I watched it for the second time tonight, the first being at the cinema upon its initial release. And the thing that really stuck with me is what a great movie this would be for young teenagers who would most likely fall under its spell. Well intentioned and certainly not bad, but by no means a classic
A Confused Film
A Finnish commentator compared this film to American prison drama OZ . I love OZ , it`s my all time favourite American show , it`s compelling and brilliantly acted , adjectives you could use to describe AMERICAN HISTORY X. However while the HBO show suffers from lapses in logic there`s enough going on in different sub plots for you not to notice these flaws but seeing similar flaws in this film you can`t help but notice them

First let me point out the good aspects . As said this movie contains great performances . In real life Ed Norton reminds me of the Kevin character from HARRY ENFIELD AND CHUMS with his floppy hairstyle and his back to front baseball cap but he always gives a good performance . In this movie he gives a GREAT performance as Derek the skin head from hell . Edward Furlong also gives a GREAT performance as Derek`s younger brother Danny . Norton earned an Oscar nod but strangely Furlong seemed to miss out , a pity . Tony Kaye also shows us he had great potential as a director , and it`s one helluva shame it`s unlikely we`ll be seeing either Furlong or Kaye as big Hollywood names

***** SPOILERS *****

But it`s the script that brings the film down , and in some places it`s quite woeful . Derek kills a couple of armed home boys who turn up at his house and he`s convicted of manslaughter . I know this is a plot device but couldn`t it have been better done ? Is it possible any jury would have convicted Derek for protecting his property from armed burglers . I guess all the jurors were called Goldberg and Rubinstein ? And I`ve got to agree with everyone who don`t buy the idea of Derek making friends with a black guy inside prison even after Derek gets raped by the skin head gang , oh and how many prisons in America have a mix of one third black , one third hispanic and one third Nazi/peckerwood ? It`s unrealistic the reasons why Derek stopped being a Nazi but it`s even more unrealistic why he became one in the first place - His Father used the " N " word a few times ! Of course the real reason might have been that his Father was murdered by a black gang but if that`s the case then why include the dinner scene ? It`s just confusing . There`s also another confused dinner scene where Derek`s mother invites a Jewish teacher around the family table . Would a Jew want to share a table with a couple of Nazi teenagers ?

But the major flaw is with the ending . AMERICAN HISTORY X is a very obvious redemption plot but Danny being murdered at the end doesn`t tie in with Derek`s redemption . If Derek remained a Nazi Danny would have died , if Derek had become a flower arranger with Greenpeace Danny would have died . No matter what Derek would have done Danny would still have been murdered . When writing a redemption plot it`s essential the ending of the movie ties in with the protagonist`s road to Damascus .

AMERICAN HISTORY X possibly does deserve to be in the IMDB top 250 movies but not at number 58 . It contains great performances but also some very poor scripting especially poor character motivation . If you want to see a better , more thought provoking film concerning race hate watch ROMPER STOMPER
One of the best films about racism
One of the reasons I like the film is that the racism isn't shoved down your throat. It's subtle and believable. There's no characters standing around screaming about "Those goddamn Mexicans, I don't want THEM changing my locks so THEY can rob the place with their little essays!", right in front of them.

The acting is great all around, and Edward Norton gives one of the best performances of all time. I can't believe he didn't win best actor. While I haven't seen Benji's performance, I doubt he was half as good as Norton. The film is also highly inspirational and moving.

How is it that this wasn't even nominated for best picture, while Crash was AND won? Crazy.

This should be shown in schools.
Smart Lead Character ...
The one reason to watch this movie is for the acting - it is intense - esp. concerning the lead character.

The lead character is immediately interesting because he has a good mind - he is bright, clever, consistent and intense. He is impressionable yet searching for his own answers.

From this character, we see how it is possible to uncover deep understandings - not about others, but about one's own self. Watching the lead character go through this process is what makes this movie so interesting.

The rest of the movie doesn't quite match the interest level of the lead character, but it is still good. Because it involves racial tensions and Nazi references, it's easy to get drawn into the story quickly. Overall, I recommend watching the movie.
This is a fantastic movie....
This is a fantastic movie because no matter what side you're on in life, this movie shows them all, good and bad, right or wrong. I also agree with the point in the movie that proves that people can change for the better and straighten things out in their head to do the right things in life. Yes, things in our world have changed, some for the good, some for the bad, but just because you might not agree with some of it, doesn't mean you can play God and try to make things "your way" and this shows exactly what happens when you try. This movie talks about all walks of life and the struggles we all have in what beliefs are right and wrong. Yes this movie is brutal and violent, but also truthful to the past and unfortunately still sometimes the present. This movie is about race, but not only 1 race is singled out and fed to the dogs, they all are. So, go into this movie with an open mind and your mind will come out full.
Norton takes throne as best Actor of his generation
In just a short career, Edward Norton has emerged as the best actor of his generation. 5 films, 2 oscar nominations, and the best performance I have ever seen turned in by a modern actor. In this film, Norton plays a skin head who goes to Prison for brutally murdering two black men who are attempting to steal his car and comes out reformed only to find that his brother (Edward Furlong, turning in a fine performance) is headed right down that same route.

Yes, the "hate is bad" message is overplayed and by the end of the film you've been hit over the head with it. The scenes, as well as the story, are minimal and the "shocking ending" is predictable, but it all doesn't matter. It's all more of an actor's piece than any one else's and Edward Norton turns in the most amazing performance I have ever seen captured on film. No longer, the sweet innocent psychopath he was in Primal Fear, Norton bulked up considerably for this role and it pays off.

It is, hands down, the most powerful American film in decades. I'd give it a 12 out of 10 if I could.
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