American History X [DVD] 
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Running Time: 114 mins approx
Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay to Edward Norton is that his Oscar-nominated performance in American History X nearly convinces you that there is a shred of logic in the tenets of white supremacy. If that statement doesn't horrify you, it should; Norton is so fully immersed in his role as a neo-Nazi skinhead that his character's eloquent defense of racism is disturbingly persuasive--at least on the surface. Looking lean and mean with a swastika tattoo and a mind full of hate, Derek Vinyard (Norton) has inherited racism from his father, and that learning has been intensified through his service to Cameron (Stacy Keach), a grown-up thug playing tyrant and teacher to a growing band of disenfranchised teens from Venice Beach, California, all hungry for an ideology that fuels their brooding alienation.
The film's basic message--that hate is learned and can be unlearned--is expressed through Derek's kid brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), whose sibling hero-worship increases after Derek is imprisoned (or, in Danny's mind, martyred) for the killing of two black men. Lacking Derek's gift of rebel rhetoric, Danny is easily swayed into the violent, hateful lifestyle that Derek disowns during his thoughtful time in prison. Once released, Derek struggles to save his brother from a violent fate, and American History X partially suffers from a mix of intense emotions, awkward sentiment and predictably inevitable plotting. And yet British director Tony Kaye (who would later protest against Norton's creative intervention during post-production) manages to juggle these qualities--and a compelling clash of visual styles--to considerable effect. No matter how strained their collaboration may have been, both Kaye and Norton can be proud to have created a film that addresses the issue of racism with dramatically forceful impact. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
American History X is as raw as it is powerful.
Making a movie about racism is fraught with traps and dangers which this movie seems to have avoided on all fronts. No mean feat! It doesn't preach, doesn't sentimentalise or try to change the world: it mirrors it.
The casting is absolutely spot on: Edward Norton and Edward Furlong are both superb. As I watched it I kept thinking: Where do I know that guy's voice from (Furlong) and it eventually dawned on me that he played John Connor in T2: Judgement Day .I also found myself thinking the same thing about Jennifer Lien. In the end, I had to resort to looking her up on the net and then, of course: Kes, Star Trek: Voyager. Edward Norton was incredible: It isn't a role that I think I would have expected him to excel in. For a man with such a sensitive almost innocent face, he could look very menacing. This was quite possibly his best role to date. I won't say much about Elliot Gould as I've never really considered him a great actor; but he played his role well. Avery Brookes played his part well, proving that there is life after DS9.
The things that make this movie stand-out are these:
It doesn't sentimentalise or look for nice easy answers.
It makes you think.
The main character is intelligent and charismatic, rather than some ignorant moron. He even makes a lot of valuable points.
The writing, acting, cinematography and direction.
This is not a movie for a nice Saturday evening's viewing. You have to invest something of yourself into the experience.
A worthy purchase.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It was OK but nothing to write home about. Not as good as I was expecting.Published 24 days ago by wendy
American History X was a film that felt very real to me. I found that I could see my own family in the characters portrayed even though I grew up in a different country, with... Read morePublished 2 months ago by A Booth
After watching EDWARD NORTON’S outstanding performance in the impressive ‘PRIMAL FEAR’ I came across a film entitled ‘AMERICAN HISTORY X’ while searching through the endless movies... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Marcus W. B. C