A Fantastic Must-See Movie Released in 1 988 by Directory Tony Kaye, American History X is a powerful view of the destructive fascination of racism and hatred. Lead by some impressive performances, this movie paints a vivid picture of how mindless hatred can tear society as well as an individual family apart. Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), is the perfect skinhead poster boy. He is handsome charismatic, athletic, smart and full of hatred. As youth, he teamed up with local white supremacist; Cameron Alexander (Stacey Keach), and organized a owerful skinhead gang in Venice Beach.
However, after brutally killing two black men who try breaking into his car, Derek is sent to prison for 3 years. While there, he contrasts white-power prisoners with black Lamont (Guy Tory), his prison laundry co-worker and eventual friend. Meanwhile Derek’s brother Danny (Edward Furlong), idolizes him and is busy following in his footsteps. Danny has become a skinhead and even turns in a school book report on Mein Kampf. Once out of prison, Derek realizes how quickly his old gang of Nazi thugs has grown and wonders if he can save his brothers from he same depths of hatred, which ruined his own life.
The heart of this movie is Edward Norton, and he delivers a powerful performance. It’s a gutsy move to make his initially racist character so compelling to begin with. There is even a point where the movie gets extremely close to endorsing the ‘White- power” platform. However, soon the bottom drops off into a well off self- destructive hatred. Norton is able to show the full evolution of his character. From innocent, to the hate-filled youth, to the regretful adult. Many of the actors in the supporting cast are excellent as well.
Avery Brooks portrays a passionate high school principal who is not willing to give up on his misguided students. Edward Furlong gives a layered performance as Danny. Much better than his one-note sappiness in the movie “Pecker”. Perhaps there IS a good actor in there after all. Director Tony Kaye also served as the films cinematographer, and there his talents truly shined. From the films effective use of black and white flashback sequences, to a well-handled slow-motion water motif, the film is always visually stimulating.
Although the film ontains a constant strong theme of violence, it is always justified in portraying the bigger picture of racial tension. Neither black nor white people are judged in the film, its primary focus being to outline that it is peoples’ brutality that causes a racial divide, not race itself. Despite the fact that American History X is one of the best films In its years, it is horribly underrated and did not get the recognition it deserves. I would definitely recommend everyone over the age of 16 to see it, as it is a very powerful, important and overall fantastic movie!