American History X (1998)

american_history_x

We’re so hung up on this notion that we have some obligation to help the struggling black man, you know. Cut him some slack until he can overcome these historical injustices. It’s crap. I mean, Christ, Lincoln freed the slaves, like, what? 130 years ago. How long does it take to get your act together?

— Derek Vinyard

It has been years since I have seen Edward Norton’s Oscar nominated role in American History X. I owned this movie on videocassette and played it to death before I had to sell it. It is nice to revisit a movie that has a powerful message to say. It is currently #38 of Top 250 of All Time on IMDb. It still resonates with me.

All of the action takes place in a 24-hour period, starting with an incident with Derek’s younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong) turning in a paper on the book, “Mein Kampf.” This action gets him in hot water with his principal, Bob Sweeney (Avery Brooks). Sweeney decides to be his history teacher and have Danny write a new paper about his brother getting out of prison that is due the next day.

Norton plays Derek, a former Skinhead that is let out of prison after three years for voluntary manslaughter. When he gets out, he wants to usher Danny of the sect that put him in Chino with the hate, brainwashing from the leader of the group, Cameron (Stacy Keach). Some of the other lost youth like Derek’s friend, Seth (Ethan Suplee) and girlfriend (Fairuza Balk) are too far gone to be helped.

Derek’s journey from being second lieutenant in Cameron’s army to having a semblance of a normal life in told in black and white flashbacks. This is director Tony Kaye’s way of expressing Derek’s viewpoint at that time was only in black and white. The life that he wants to have with family, including his mother, Doris (Beverly D’Angelo), sister Davina (Jennifer Lien) is in focus.

The movie is preachy with its message about hate and choosing to not associate with that. This is a good movie will leave an indelible impression on you when you view it.

Judgment: If you want to have some concept of how to stop hate, watch this film.

Rating: ****1/2

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on September 18, 2009, in 1998, Academy Award Nominee, Crime, Drama, Running Feature, Top 250 of All Time on IMDB and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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