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Crime, Drama
IMDB rating:
Tony Kaye
Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard
Edward Furlong as Danny Vinyard
Beverly D'Angelo as Doris Vinyard
Avery Brooks as Dr. Bob Sweeney
Jennifer Lien as Davina Vinyard
Ethan Suplee as Seth Ryan
Stacy Keach as Cameron Alexander
Fairuza Balk as Stacey
Elliott Gould as Murray
Guy Torry as Lamont
William Russ as Dennis Vinyard
Joseph Cortese as Rasmussen (as Joe Cortese)
Jason Bose Smith as Little Henry (as Jason Bose-Smith)
Storyline: Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for killing two thugs who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother, Danny Vineyard's narration, we learn that before going to prison, Derek was a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that committed acts of racial crime throughout L.A. and his actions greatly influenced Danny. Reformed and fresh out of prison, Derek severs contact with the gang and becomes determined to keep Danny from going down the same violent path as he did.
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Brainwashing film
This film is example how liberals want to wash our brains with their so called racism issues, nothing in this film is near to reality, for exp Neo-Nazi guy gets in the jail and becomes a friend of a black man. I don't know but this reminds me of a film "Romper Stomper" it's the same awful propaganda film as this.
Biography of a Repentant Nazi
"American History X" is the biography of a repentant Nazi. Derek Vinyard is a young man from a poor white family in Los Angeles. After his father, a fireman, is shot dead while tacking a blaze in a black area of the city, Derek becomes a bigoted racist, joining a violent Neo-Nazi skinhead group and getting involved in clashes with local black and Hispanic gangs. When a group of black youths attempt to steal his truck, Derek fights back, shooting one of them dead and killing another by stamping on his head. For this crime Derek is arrested, convicted of murder and jailed for three years. When he comes out of jail he is a hero to his former skinhead comrades, but he is a changed man who wants to disown his past and to renounce hatred and violence. His greatest fear is that his younger brother Danny, who idolises him, shows every sign of following him down the Neo-Nazi path.

The present-day scenes, dealing with Derek's attempts to lead Danny away from his fascination with Nazism, are shot in colour. Derek's own history is told in flashbacks, shot in black and white. We see him as a frustrated, angry young man, intelligent and articulate, who becomes a monster wholly lacking in conscience. We then see how he is changed by his experiences in prison, and how he comes to realise two things. The first is that blacks are people too, with as much right to exist as he has. The second is that his sterile ideology of hatred has actually blighted his own life, offering nothing better than a jail sentence and the prospect of martyrdom in a worthless cause.

I was interested to note that the film's director Tony Kaye and its star Edward Norton later quarrelled about the editing of the film, because it was their contributions which helped lift the film above the ordinary. This could have been just another worthy "issue of the month" anti-racist film, but Kaye's direction and Norton's acting mean that it is much more than that. The black and white sequences, particularly the murder and the prison scenes, have a stark, violent power. I have been impressed by Norton in the past in films such as "Primal Fear", "Fight Club" and "Kingdom of Heaven", but this was probably the best of his performances that I have seen. In the scenes where Derek is part of the skinhead gang there is a frightening intensity to his violent hatred, and his transformation during the prison scenes is agonising as he realises that the whole of his life has been based on a lie. Norton receives good support from some of the other actors, such as Edward Furlong as his younger brother and Avery Brooks as their black history teacher Dr Sweeney.

I was interested by the comments of another reviewer who pointed out that the first anti-racist films in the sixties tended to give idealised portraits of black characters. The example he gave was "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner", but there are other examples such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "In the Heat of the Night". The assumption was that the roots of racism lay in irrational prejudices among the white community which could be overcome by the simple exercise of greater goodwill. There is no such easy assumption in "American History X", and no assumption that the problems of racial tension can be overcome by the standard liberal remedies.

By far the most eloquent voice we hear in the film is Derek's; the token voice of liberalism is the ineffectual one of Murray, the new boyfriend of Derek's mother, played by Elliott Gould in one of the film's weaker performances. Although some of their doctrines are just simply wrong (such as the idea that blacks have a genetic predisposition towards crime) there is a suggestion that the success of the extremists in winning support is partly due to legitimate grievances among working-class whites over immigration and affirmative action. Derek's reformation is due to self-interest rather than to any conversion to a liberal world view; he realises that following an ideology of violence and hatred has done nothing to improve his lot or that of whites in general.

Although Derek is befriended by a sympathetic black inmate while in prison, the black characters in this film are far from idealised. The malevolence of the white skinheads has its equivalent in the violent criminality of the black and Hispanic gangs. There is, in fact, a suggestion that these gangs hate one another and yet are also dependent on one another. The Neo-Nazis rely on white fears of black crime in order to recruit members, increasing black fears about white racist violence, thus enabling black gangsters to consolidate their own power by exploiting the idea of racial solidarity. It is notable that in prison the white racist gang-leaders are quite happy to discuss matters of mutual concern with their black counterparts, while subjecting Derek to a brutal rape for the "crime" of becoming too friendly with a black prisoner.

The implication is that the responsibility for racism does not lie solely with the white race, or with the black race, or with any other race. Perhaps the fault lies with the concept of "race" itself, the idea that humanity can be divided into discrete sub-groups on the basis of physical appearance and that the most important thing about any individual is his or her skin colour. The film does not offer any easy solutions to the social problems it deals with, a pessimism highlighted by its tragic ending. It is, however, an important film, thought-provoking as well as emotionally powerful. 8/10
A powerful Vengeful Masterpiece
Well better late than never. I Finally watched this movie and boy I was impressed by it. The pacing editing character development acting is top notch.Though it may seem bit violent but these only further polish the film. Norton is excellent he is truly most underrated actor and furlong too does excellent job as has one of most powerful line which truly startled me its quote;"Has anything you've done made your life better?" this was enough for me to know the greatness of this movie. This is the most see movie for any people with powerful message you may think differently on seeing Nazi logo and judge it well I did that too I was dead wrong. Go check out the movie and prepared to be moved by its sheer brilliance.
Norton's acting delivers the sheer loss that racism can truly bring
Probably one of the most powerful films I have ever seen, with a subject matter that is so delicate and easily could have been mishandled – this film delivers a performance of a lifetime from Edward Norton and a superb story shaping the influences around him.

The film is told in two tales; one in black and white, conveying the wrongful doings of Derek Vinyard (Norton) and about how his racial crusades slowly infiltrate the mind of his little brother. After a brutal racially motivated murder of three individuals for breaking into his car, Derek is sent to jail where he soon learns the errors of his ways and comes to realise the pain and suffering he has caused.

The second story told in colour, runs parallel to that of the past of Derek. This story focuses more on Danny Vinyard, and about the effect his brother has on him. After handing in a paper on Mein Kampf, the school's headmaster orders Danny to write a paper about his brother. This is where we hear the vocal expressions of the effects that he has had on him through a well delivered voice-over. On the same day when Danny is reunited with his brother, Danny sets about trying to impress his brother by taking up where he left off – the tattoos, the haircut, the attitude – aspiring to him.

But as Derek's story develops from his time in prison, you begin to realise that he cannot let his brother take the same path as he did. He disowns all his friends and connections in the neo-Nazi party in a ditch attempt to save his brother from a similar life of destruction and mayhem.

The relationship between the two brothers is what drives the plot of the film; the acting between them is impeccable and emotionally driven. As Danny finally realises what his brother is trying to teach him, he is shot by a gang member that he encountered before his brother showed him the right path. Derek holding his dead brother in his arms is the greatest lesson of all. Norton conveys with such passion, the pain, the guilt and true regret the character is feeling –his brother's death was his entire fault.

Without a doubt one of the most powerful films you will see, and I can't help but feel that under all this there is a powerful message that mankind is twisted and troubled in today's society over such petty issues as race and equality which could so easily be dealt with by the governments in place.
Well-made with heart
"American History X" starts with a bang and ends with one as well. When this film was first being released in theatres, there was a storm of controversy surrounding it due the violent and graphic content; however, "American History X" turned out to become even less violent than one of the most violent films of the 1990's "Natural Born Killers." Edward Norton gives the performance of his career as a reformed Neo-Nazi determined to deter his brother, Edward Furlong, from the life he once held. Norton is Derek Vinyard a skinhead sent to prison for murdering two black boys in front of his home for trying to steal his truck. Norton's performance in "American History X" reminds me of an earlier film called "Primal Fear." Edward Furlong plays Derek's younger brother, Danny. Danny, who has always looked up to Derek enters the life his brother Derek led. Derek leaves prison with the knowledge that Danny is in the hateful life he once led and he makes it his mission to get him and his family out of the life.

"American History X" has a lot of detailed scenes of violence, and language that opened my eyes to this awful lifestyle. I thought to myself, How could people be so ignorant as to hate others because of their skin.

This is one of the best movies of 1998. Everybody who watches this film is in for a real treat because there is a twist at the end, which is needed to make the story come complete circle. "American History X" is a film of the journey that travels from the deepest depths of darkness to peak of doing what is right.
A shocking and riveting film!
If you don't hold your breath at least once or say "wow", then you're clearly distracted watching this film.

This is one of those movies that when you leave the theater, you will have an uneasy feeling in your stomach. It's that good! And it's the best skinhead/neo-nazi film ever made. What made this film is the unforgettable performance by Edward Norton. Any time I hear his name, it will be associated with this film.

If you haven't seen this, you must, but be forewarned, some scenes are not for the faint of heart!

A perfect 10/10 from me!
amazing movie overall
this is a movie that shows you both sides, it makes you think and changes the way you look at life and judge others. I consider this to be one of the best movie Edward has done. I remember the first time i saw it it changed how i looked at people taught me to never judge a book by its cover!
Norton's astounding performance!!!!!!
American History X is a 1998 American crime drama film directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. It stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong, and co-stars Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliott Gould, Avery Brooks, Ethan Suplee and Beverly D'Angelo.

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 inter cut 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
"Even if you change your life path, there are always signs to reminds you"
With this title i will summarize the main idea of the film. Hard lessons through difficult paths and how our choices affect the lives of other people.Two very powerful scenes is that with the arrest of "Derek Vinyard" and the other as contrast, with the hero in front of the mirror trying to hide with his hand the tattoo. Wonderful performance by Edward Norton.Film presents in real and at the same time realistic way the life of a family who live through the racist motive of the father. His belief affect in a negative way the two boys of the family.Mother tries to unite her sons.The amazing with the movie is how all this anger and hate replaced with love. The pain of loss is still and life gives lessons in hard way most of the times. The final scene leave us with a bittersweet feeling.
Decent but overdramatic and overrated
'American History X' is a decent but flawed drama about Derek, a former neo-Nazi who, after serving time in prison for the murder of a black man, reforms himself and tries to prevent his younger brother, Danny, from following in his footsteps. The film cuts back and forth between the past and present, showing us what Derek used to be like and the path that his younger brother is at risk of going down.

It's a solid drama and an interesting enough watch, but with an average rating of 8.5 it's also massively overrated. Several parts of the film feel forced and not at all convincing, especially the ending which was over-the-top and completely unnecessary. The film contains enough drama without the need for an forced and overdramatic ending that contributes very little to the story other than some blood and violence. Overall, 'American History X' is a decent but overrated drama film.
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