American History X

American History X is a movie I’ve wanted to watch for a long time because I’d heard good things about the movie and about Edward Norton’s performance. I watched it yesterday and the movie was as good as advertised.

Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is a neo-Nazi who has been in jail for murdering two black youth. His brother Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong) adores him and is going along the same path as Derek. Derek though has changed in prison and doesn’t want to be a part of the neo-Nazi group and wants to get away from the life of hate.

The movie’s story alternates between the past (flashback in black and white) and the current and is a gripping tale essentially about hate and propoganda. The language is harsh and racist, and there are scenes of violence that are brutal and graphic, so it may not be your cup of tea. The movie is extremely well made though and worth watching. Kudos to director Tony Kaye and writer David McKenna.

The star of the movie though is Ed Norton, who showcases a range of emotions from the hate in his eyes to the tenderness towards his family, and is excellent in his role as a neo-Nazi and then as someone who walks away from it. Furlong as his brother is a nice complement to Norton and the rest of the cast fit into the characters nicely.

American History X may not be a movie for everyone but it is a very well-made movie.

— Update: 17th October 10:27 am IST —

After reading a comment on this post, I wanted to explicitly state that what I took away from the movie was that using violence of any form or hate-fuelled violence is not a solution to any problem because it ultimately backfires on you. For me, the redemptive part of the movie is that Derek decides to get out of the racist, hate-filled life of old and wants to move on to a better life, one without hate. He also wants to get his younger brother out of the clutches of the neo-Nazi group.

I didn’t state these points earlier in the post because I presumed that they may be spoilers but I think it’s important that I clarify my position. While racism still does exist in different forms in the world today, I think it is vile and it’s not something that anyone should be practising, whether on the street or in a cricket stadium.

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3 thoughts on “American History X

  1. Having helped Tony put this film together I must say that it came out quite well. The high points favored my point of view the low points were left for the opposition. The end scene told it all. No matter what you do racism will survive. Watching his own little brother pay the price for his dropping out was the message that most young people who contact me refer to.

    The last scene coupled with the first scene is what sinks in.
    Stacy Keech played myself. But it was highly exaggerated and not the way I operate at all. Norton got into the editing room but I don’t know how much damage he did. I do have the original script which is significantly different. Tom Metzger

  2. What I got from the movie is that line at the end that “hate is baggage” (or something equivalent). To me, the take away was the point that nothing good comes out of hate or violence fuelled by hate. The scenes where hatred is advocated through violence or offensive language were vile and made me cringe.

    I do not agree with racism and do not condone it in any way, shape, or form.

  3. Pingback: american history x

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