American History X Reviews
Edward Norton and Edward Furlong are fantastic as Neo-Nazis. Norton gives off such raw emotion whether he is dictating an enraged Nazi propaganda speech to skinheads, telling his family his racial ideologies, or speaking to his brother about what he's learned. Norton clearly wants to ask you: "Can Neo-Nazis reform? Can they change?" At least, he shows you how they can come into being Nazis.
American History X is so powerful. It really speaks to the troubles we face even today. American History X paints a picture of how family, income, and one's outlook can depict and nurture or twist and warp someone into a hateful being. You get the background, the formation of a hate group, the people influencing them, the people that are trying to help these Nazis, and the few that may sincerely change and wake up from their hateful slumber.
The film itself is beautifully shot, switching from black and white sequences of the past that depict how this family fell apart. Then in color and gorgeous cinematography, how Edward Norton must take his family back and try to cut ties off of the white supremacist Neo-Nazis. It's all intense and suspenseful throughout, while also has brutal depictions of a very harsh life. Check American History X out for insights into our current era of hate and racially tense times. You might just learn something about yourself or at least see how others think.
The acting in this film is excellent across the board and it's easy to see why Edward Norton was nominated for an Oscar in this role. He puts in an amazingly convincing performance as Derek, this vile, hateful white supremacist. Then when the character is broken down and tries to become a better person, he shows layer upon layer of damage and vulnerability that lies underneath. Edward Furlong puts in a good performance as Danny, Derek's impressionable, younger brother who idolises Derek but is also manipulated by Cameron Alexander, played by Stacy Keach, into doing his dirty work. Beverly D'Angelo is also excellent as Doris, Derek's mother and the progression of her character from flash back to present day is well played.
This is a very brutal and sometimes difficult to watch film that explores the cycle of hatred and how racism can be spread and passed down through generations. However because it doesn't mince its words the film's message is that much more potent and impactful on the audience. The cinematography is also excellent and the use of black and white in the flash backs adds another dimension to an issue that is most certainly grey.
I would certainly recommend this film as the issues it tackles are still very relevant to this day.
These two feel like twin movies to me, tackling these fascinating and difficult subjects in some of the most interesting ways I've seen.
I loved the structure of the story, the way it was built and peeled back layer by layer. I was hooked instantly. It could've been so much plainer if we had followed Derek's story from its conception, but having it turned into this life analysis from Danny's point of view was a very smart decision. It helped keep the movie's pace going, helped me as a viewer stay at attention. I wanted to get down to Derek's core.
Edward Norton reminded me in this performance why I love him so much as an actor. Beautiful act, very raw and honest. A lot of moments of brilliance. The only slightly awkward part for me was when he was holding Danny's dead body and bawling his eyes out. His grimace kind of looked like laughter but with the sound switched to crying. Maybe that's just how his crying face looks like, but it felt a little awkward to me. Not a big point.
Everybody else fit their role well. The mother's Jewish boyfriend acted in a surprisingly subdued way, considering the role. Sweeney's actor was fantastic. The laundry guy, Lamont, stole the show during his scenes. He did great.
Movie was shot in a pretty decent way for the most part, with some amazing moments of brilliance. The editing was a standout, the music was alright, although a bit too in your face at times. Could've been a little subtler.
It was a brilliant look into this painful twisted world, it felt honest and very human. Felt intelligent in its depiction of every side of the story.
The standout moment for me was the part where Derek walks Danny in the morning to his school. The entire sequence is just amazingly orchestrated. Tension builds and builds, you scan the background behind them to spot incoming danger, and then the camera starts narrowing down and zooming onto the faces of Derek and Danny while you're on the edge, unable to see if there's any danger. It's obvious that something will happen, but the time leading up to it is an amazing ride. I thought to myself that I wish it didn't happen, but then it wouldn't be as good of a story. So well done.
Amazing movie, highly recommended.
Derek Vinyard is a skinhead and the leader of a white supremacist gang. After killing two black men who tried to steal his truck he is sent to prison for three years. Prison gives him a time to think about his life and when he comes out he decides to avoid the hate and prejudice of his past. He leaves the gang and attempts to live a normal life. However, his previous actions and prejudices may have influenced his younger brother.
Superb drama. A great examination of prejudice and racial hatred, the causes and effects of it, and how it shapes, and destroys, lives. Also looks at the generational impact of it.
Well written and directed with a powerful, profound ending.
Great performance by Edward Norton in the lead role. Well deserved his Best Actor Oscar nomination.
The journey that is shown throughout the movie, switching from black and white to color, beautifully shows the outlook on life which Derek abides by, separating those who are not White Protestants from anyone else. The color change is extraordinary to convey his character transformation.
The ending, as stated before, is one of the best scenes in the movie, pulling at the heart strings of the reader. Danny's fate is sealed once he blows the puff of smoke into the face of the African American student. This fate was carried out by Danny by worshiping the actions and ideology in which his older brother, Derek, dominated.
The opening scene of the car robbery set the mood for the rest of the movie, not pulling back any punches when it came to brutality. The opening scene, however, also showed the contempt that Danny has for the final actions of Derek. Derek's murder of two African American men attempting to break into his car changed Danny forever. This change, however, is suppressed by Danny in order to be more like his brother. When Danny discovers the massive change in Derek, his frustration is let out by pushing him against a garage many times. This anger seems to be coming from the confusion Danny now faces on whether to follow his brother again or stick to what he made himself believe.
All in all, this is an amazing movie and I would recommend this to any friend.
Frighteningly believable performance by Norton anchors (and single-handedly carries) this compelling drama about furious, hateful ex-prisoner now eager to keep younger brother from terrible life style he went through. A slideshow of innovative technical achievements, startling insights on lives in California, bravura acting by Edward; only flaw is eventually winding up a bit too "neat and tidy". Still a powerful and commanding presentation.
Especially when the main character is a white supremacist. Trust me, the movie doesn't promote racism at all, but you have watch it all the way through to see that. The message is a very strong one, so you have to be willing to see the bad stuff to get to the conclusion. I've seen American History X many times through the years, it still remains as powerful of a picture as the day I first saw it back in 2001.
If your a Norton fan, this movie is a must. It's the only movie with him that I rank higher than Fight Club and Primal Fear. Also this movie has the very famous curbing scene, don't know what curbing is? well your gonna have to watch the movie to find out. Like I said, this is a intense film but a very good one. I highly recommend it, it's one best movies of 98' and of the decade. If you love great acting or movie with a message, American History X mandatory viewing. P.S. I don't know why but I It funny this movie was released a day before my birthday (Oct. 30) American History X is a different kind of horror movie.
American History X masterfully shows the life of Derek Vinyard as a neo nazi and a changed person, through black and white. The performance that Edward Furlong gives is almost as memorable as John Connor.
Overall, this movie is a 5 star.