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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are not enemies.
This is the only film i have seen which really tackles racism in a realistic and intelligent way. The Ed Norton character is an intelligent and articulate individual who convincingly preaches the twisted logic of racism. The film manages to convey most psychological explanations of racism - the authoritarian personality,the scapegoat hypothesis, in-group out-group...
Published on 1 Dec 2001 by james peter wootton

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unrealistic
I watched this film 10 years ago, and was drawn in by the powerful performances and almost film noir atmosphere. I would have given it 5 stars. I bought thre DVD when it came out, and it has sat on my shelf since. I decided to watch it last, expecting to feel equally impressed again. However, sadly, the plot fell apart. Things just didn't make sense, seemed unreal. I was...
Published 4 months ago by B. L. J. Webb


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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are not enemies., 1 Dec 2001
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This is the only film i have seen which really tackles racism in a realistic and intelligent way. The Ed Norton character is an intelligent and articulate individual who convincingly preaches the twisted logic of racism. The film manages to convey most psychological explanations of racism - the authoritarian personality,the scapegoat hypothesis, in-group out-group bias, transference, etc, without feeling preachy. I can't think of a more socially important or responsible film than this. Derek's emotional oddessy is both moving and disturbing, with all points of view given equal airing, no matter how extreme. Personally I found the question asked of Derek 'Has anything you have done made your life better?' a stark and penetrating wake up call for anyone who is unhappy. The ending has been criticised for being overly emotional but I thought it was appropriate, Derek gets hurt by former chosen enemies who have not yet learnt the lesson he has. This makes us question whether Derek was wrong in the first place. This is a complicated film about a difficult subject which should be required viewing in all schools. The ultimate message is to do your best and try to get along with other people. Its not just about racism, its about personal choice, do we live to hate or do we try to make life better for ourselves and others. The director walked away from the film, my question is if he was unhappy with this cut, what would his version be like? This version is a technical, artistic and emotional triumph.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American History X, 27 Feb 2004
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
American History X is a brilliant film. The subject matter is fascinating, and the film really gets under the skin of the racists. As I watched the film for the first time I found that my opinions were fluctuating exactly as the film intended. The film contains many interesting characters, which bring it to life, it certainly does not glamorise violence but conveys a very strong opinion opposed to racism. Although much of the film is in black and white the scenes are very vivid and create a totally absorbing world around which the story is based. It presents both sides of the racist issue in many different forms, from the down to earth dinner table discussions and opinions voiced by the main characters to dramatic scenes of violence and hatred. The structure of the film allows for the many fantastically orchestrated set pieces, being half told by Edward Furlong's character's flashbacks. There is much narration in the film and this works very well to help convey the characters feelings. All the performances are top notch especially Edward Norton pulling off a totally convincing Derek Vinyard.
Graphically it is a beautiful and stylish film using black and white to great effect. Accompanying the visuals, the music is an atmospheric classical soundtrack, which seems distant from the events at first, but as the film progresses, reinforces the feelings.
My only complaint is that Derek's transformation in prison could have been made more seamless as you may have to suspend disbelief for a moment.
The extras on the DVD are sparse but do contain three excellent deleted scenes, which really should have been included. In conclusion this is an unmissable film that I believe everyone should see, it is moving and will have you pondering the events and subject for days afterwards. It is only unfortunate that this is the director's only film.
Five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars unrealistic, 8 April 2014
By 
B. L. J. Webb "webbski7" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
I watched this film 10 years ago, and was drawn in by the powerful performances and almost film noir atmosphere. I would have given it 5 stars. I bought thre DVD when it came out, and it has sat on my shelf since. I decided to watch it last, expecting to feel equally impressed again. However, sadly, the plot fell apart. Things just didn't make sense, seemed unreal. I was no longer blinkered by the whole, and saw that the foundations of the story were weak. For example (and read on if you don't mind some plot descriptions), when Derek goes to prison for murdering several black men who were attempting to break in to his car. At this point, he is angry and strongly antisemitic and racist. His reasons for this are deep-rooted, and powerful, and constructed with intelligence as well as hatred (demonstrated in a clear example when his mother brings a Jewish man to dinner). He is smart, clearly. Yet, in prison, to survive, he associates with the group who also carry the Swastika tattoos. They will protect him from the blacks, who clearly want his blood (for revenge). My problem is that when he sees that one of the antisemitics is drug dealing with one of a another group, he alienates himself from them. He disapproves of his insincerity to the 'cause', and also that no-one else in the group seems to care. In Derek's mind, they are inauthentic. So, he is alone. He is still a strong believer in his racist principles. Yet, by alienating himself, he is no longer protected from those who want his blood. He doesn't care. He accepts his fate. At the same time, he slowly befriends a black guy (pushed together by work detail) whom he later finds out has protected him from the beating he expects. It is this friendship which shows his racism is misguided (perhaps the story of the black guys prison sentence being so harsh- stealing a TV- shows the racism they experience), and that the black guy has more qualities he admires deep down, than the misguided anger of the weak-minded dropout racists. The black guy went out of his way to help him, for no other reason than friendship. My frustration is that the crux of the movie is the awakening of Derek to the truth, to his true feelings, and though the film portrays the racist anger he feels so well, it is the transition to acceptance of himself that is weak. If his anger and racism is so tellingly portrayed, we need to BELIEVE this man can become good. Just because the viewer wanted to see that happen, and that it did happen this way, doesn't mean it was shown in a believable way.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great films of all time, 12 Oct 2003
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This is a truly great film, intelligent and thought provoking. Edward Norton is amazing.
Films like this need to be made because the problems confronted are still very real. The film takes you into the mind of a hardcore, militant racist in a world were he has to confront that which he hates. The debate between Norton and Eliott Gould is masterful, Gould's character being Jewish leads to inevitable consequences. The politics of the white power movement are depicted amazingly and it is a refreshing change for a skinhead to be depicted in a morally balanced way.
It is a shame that, because of the language, this film will never be shown in schools. If the teachers werent so seemingly scared of the language that most teenagers use anyway, this film could easily be used as a great film to analyse morals and beliefs in our society.
In the year 2003, we should have evolved past racism. Unfortunately, we havent.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I've ever seen, 18 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This film is stunning and quite possibly one of the best films you'll ever see. No film has had such a sudden impact on me quite like this one has. From the eye opening and absorbing plot to the breathtaking performances, this is a true epic. Ed Norton is simply superb - how he can go from being so scary one moment and then so friendly the next is beyond me. His fascinating character immediately draws you into the film and somehow forces you to care about an individual that at first is full of antagonism. There are also strong performances from the supporting actors, in particular the brother, who appears to be no older than he was in Terminator 2. The direction of the plot is also top-notch with the events leading up to and the development of Norton's hateful and violent nature portrayed in authentic black and white. The portrayal of these events are smoothly intertwined with the present day events allowing you to learn of why things are happening as they are happening. The story is told through the eyes of the brother who appears to be rapidly following in the fatalistic foot-steps of his older brother (Norton) who is desperate to teach him what he has learnt form his recent experiences inside. The ending is brilliant leaving you shocked and stunned and is the final piece of the jigsaw that is hatred, sorrow and remourse. As for the dvd, there's not too many extras, just the usual biographies etc, but who cares when the film is this good. Plug it into your speakers and be amazed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unusually Intelligent and refreshingly unsentimental, 24 April 2006
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
This film represents a huge leap forward from the sickly, prescriptive preaching of "the world would be lovely if it wasn't for the bad people" into an aknowledgement that there are fallible human beings on both sides of the racial divide, some of whom mistake personal bitterness for a moral justification of hatred. Hearteningly, the more recent "Crash" also takes this approach, though from a wider perspective than American History X's specific focus on racially motivated violence.

I take the point of the previous reviewer that this film reduces some of the neo-nazis to cardboard cut-outs, but to be fair its approach was ambitious enough already. (To fully develop all the characters in such a complex subject might require a stage tragedy rather than a general release movie.) Similarly, the handful of liberals were probably necessary, sadly, to prevent idiots taking the film as a vindication of their so-called beliefs, and also to avoid alienating much of the target audience. For a film released in 1999 this was a very brave production.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough Drama, 20 Nov 2005
By 
scoon2 "scoon2" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Edward Norton's performance makes this movie. He is certainly one of the finest screen actors of the moment. This tale of a young racist and how his life and family are affected by his actions is a powerful one.It is also relentlessly bleak in tone and not easy to watch at times.However,this is still worth one's time and effort to watch and, however you feel about the film's message,it is surely thought-provoking. Nice to see Mr Keach too. he has been woefully under used by Hollywood in recent years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Moving, 2 April 2000
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
What an incredible movie. This is one of the most thought provoking and powerful films I have seen for a long time. Not normally one for "movies with a message" I am truly glad I have seen this film. It covers 2 days in the life of an American skinhead with various flash-backs included in the price to provide a film that kept me rivetted to my seat the whole way through to the intense story line (do these people really exist?) and added a compulsory twist as a finale. You have GOT to watch this film.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On of the most powerful films ever, 21 Dec 2006
By 
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
Edward Norton (Fight Club) stars magnificently as derek, an opinionated soul living in Southern America, a place where racism and cultural values are strong. His brother Danny (Furlong) wants to follow in his footsteps but after his time spent in prison, Derek has changed his views about society.

This is an extremly powerful film containing a massive pressure on culture and what various people from all walks of life believe about certain values. Norton is terrific as the hating immigrants emotional dominant protagonist and deservering of an Oscar nomination.

The way the film conveys issues such as racism is remarkable, what certain people will do and say is jawdropping in Kaye's 1998 film. The ending is sensational and had me in tears, showing how powerful it is.

Violence in shooting, gangs, bullying are all used to emhpasise the true meaning of the film, and it came off superbly, catching my breathe on various scenes.

the direction is remarkable, especially the flashbacks which are filmed in black and white to convey passion and recollection for the characters.

without a doubt, this is simply a must watch to make the audience see how wrong racism and violence is in society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional..., 5 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: American History X [DVD] [1999] (DVD)
American History X is probably my favourite film of all time, so if you're looking for an objective review I'm afraid you aren't going to find one here! This film drags you through an emotive and turbulent story of the lives of two neo-Nazi boys. The range of issues raised and the methods used to bring them out are without doubt true-to-life and as such incredibly striking. What struck me most however, was the DVD version of this film. Usually additional scenes found on DVDs are for novelty value only but in this version the progressive elements of the film are certainly enhanced innumerably. Disturbing scenes, harsh language and a range of potent issues might deter some from buying/viewing but I implore you to watch - this is a classic which I rank alongside Shakespeare's Othello and as an English Literature student that is as good as it gets!
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American History X [DVD] [1999]
American History X [DVD] [1999] by Tony Kaye (DVD - 1999)
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