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The Most Powerful Film I Have Ever Watched..
American History X (DVD)
Member Name: angelboouk
American History X (DVD)
Advantages: powerful, dramatic, acting
Disadvantages: some may find it a little hardcore
Film Only Review
~American History X~
Released : 1999
Runtime : 119 minutes
Director : Tony Kaye
Certification : 18
Availability - New and used from Amazon priced from 51p. Also available on Blu-ray.
Prior to being imprisoned for killing two thugs, Derek Vinyard, a Neo Nazi, was the leader of a white supremacist gang. Derek is released on parole and finds his younger brother Danny involved in the same trouble and vows to save his brother from ending up like him. The film is narrated by Danny himself.
Derek Vinyard - Edward Norton
Danny Vinyard - Edward Furlong
Doris Vinyard - Beverley D'Angelo
Ethan Suplee - Seth Ryan
Stacey Keach - Fairuza Balk
When it comes to films, I do have my favourites and American History X is far up on my list. I was first convinced to watch this with my fiance and not only did the film become a favourite, Ed Norton became one of my favourite actors too. I have yet to be disappointed by his acting skills. This wouldn't usually be my type of film but it pulled me in from the moment I started watching it.
The film is approached differently to other films especially as Danny does the narrating. The film does a bit of jumping between different times but it is very easy to follow and keep up with in my opinion. American History X opens up with Danny in the principles office regarding a report he had written on Hitler. Fearing that he is going the same way as his brother, the principle insists that he writes a report on his imprisoned brother Derek. From here on, the film flash backs to Dereks life prior to him being arrested.
This isn't an easy film to watch. It is an amazingly powerful film with fantastic direction. Ed Norton is absolutely perfect to the role. As a skin head, covered in offensive tattoos, he is the perfect choice of leaded for the supremacist gang. There are references to the Vinyard father being shot by a black drug dealer which played a part in Derek becoming who he was as a man. Supporting actors including other gang members and his girlfriend Stacey play minor roles in the film but the main focus is on Derek and Danny Vinyard.
As the film progresses, we play witnesses to hardcore racism from this gang. It isn't nice to watch but it is real life as gangs like this do still exist. There is a lot of swearing throughout the film. In a short space of time, the Vinyards lives are changed forever as three black thugs attempt to steal Dereks car. This particular scene is very difficult to watch and not for the faint hearted. The flash back scene is in black and white which adds to the intense nature of it in my opinion. The film jumps to and from Dereks time in prison and his release. As you would expect, he doesn't have an easy time in prison and a particular scene is uncomfortable to watch.
Derek is released on parole as a reformed character. His image, views on life and general love for his family are evident. He seems like a new person but has the challenge of saving his brother from becoming overly involved with the gang. Danny hasn't learned from his brothers mistakes and is a stubborn, tough character. His brother tries to protect him but the damage is done. I found the end of the film to come at just the right time. I found myself changing from becoming shocked at the hate through the film to rather upset.
American History X is an amazing film but one which you need to watch with an open mind in my opinion. I found the pace to be excellent and that the narration aspect really enhanced the film and made it more personal. The acting in the film is top notch. American History X is a strong, emotional film which often had me in suspense.
The 18 rating is very much warranted as there is a lot of swearing, murder, violence, sexual content and general messages of hate. This isn't a film I would choose to watch with my parents as it is pretty hardcore! This is by far the best Ed Norton film in my opinion. He is so adaptable and gives an outstanding performance in American History X.
Thanks for reading :)
Summary: one of my favourite films