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American History X (1998)

Cast: Edward Norton, Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, more...
Director: Tony Kaye, Tony Kaye
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: New Line Home Video
Genre: Drama, Politics and Social Issues, Classic Crime, Crime, Classic Crime
Running Time: 119 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Tony Kaye made his feature directorial debut with this dramatic exploration into the roots of race hatred in America. In a shocking opening scene, teen Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong) races to tell his older brother, neo-Nazi Derek (Edward Norton), about the young blacks breaking into his car in front of the house, whereupon Derek gets his gun and with no forethought shoots the youths in their tracks. Tried and convicted, Derek is sent away for three years in prison, where he acquires a different outlook as he contrasts white-power prisoners with black Lamont (Guy Torry), his prison laundry co-worker and eventual pal. Meanwhile, Danny, with a shaved head and a rebellious attitude, seems destined to follow in his big brother's footsteps. After Danny writes a favorable review of Hitler's Mein Kampf, black high-school principal Sweeney (Avery Brooks) puts Danny in his private "American History X" course and assigns him to do a paper about his older brother, who was a former student of Sweeney's. This serves to introduce flashbacks, with the film backtracking to illustrate Danny's account of Derek's life prior to the night of the shooting. Monochrome sequences of Derek leading a Venice, California gang are intercut with color footage of the mature Derek ending his past neo-Nazi associations and attempting to detour Danny away from the group led by white supremacist, Cameron (Stacy Keach), who once influenced Derek. Director Tony Kaye, with a background in TV commercials and music videos, filmed in L.A. beach communities. Rated R "for graphic brutal violence including rape, pervasive language, strong sexuality and nudity." ~ Bhob Stewart, All Movie Guide

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GreenCine Member Reviews

Helped me understand by davem October 25, 2005 - 11:23 PM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This is film making at its best. Other reviewers may critique it on various levels but the fact is I left this film understanding a part of the human condition in a way that I never had access to before. That's what film making should be about. The rest is superfluous.

If we are ever going to change the attitudes depicted in the film, ever going to rid the world of blind hatred, then we need to understand where it comes from and how it is rationalized. We need to see these people -- even white supremecists -- not merely as 'others' beyond understanding or sympathy. We need to see them as us, as people we could have been under different circumstances. Without empathy there is no understanding and without understanding there can be no progress.

This film was a window that I appreciate tremendously. thank you Ed Norton, Ed Furlong, and Tony Kaye. I am a richer person for having seen your film.

Rent The Believer instead by MDixon February 2, 2004 - 2:08 PM PST
4 out of 7 members found this review helpful
AHX is too "hollywoodized" - from its oh-so-important opening shot, to the black and white flashback footage. Even the music is calculatedly manipulative. Norton's performance is great, but that's one of the only good things about this. The ending is totally telegraphed, too. The Believer presents a more compelling story - not as much gratuitous violence, either.

Very brutal and poignant by pelikan March 2, 2002 - 5:25 PM PST
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This was the first Edward Norton movie I saw, and his performance was so convincing that I still have trouble believing it's the same guy who was in Rounders.
The movie itself is as violent as they come and does not hold anything back in order to get the story (which holds it's own) across.
A definite, must see...once.

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GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.44)
305 Votes
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