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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most powerful films of our time
In a word, this film is fabulous.
It is an emotionally engaging, heartrending experience, essentially unlike anything I have ever seen before.
It is a shame that this movie remains relatively unknown--it is certainly comparable to some of the greatest "classic" films that people tout much more openly: the stark, unflinching way in which it addresses some of the...
Published on Jan. 11 2004 by S. Culp

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars meh
Things I liked:
Edward Norton
B/W memories, technicolor present
Things I disliked:
The lacking defense of "liberalism." what was their defense? that nazis are wrong because they are violent, inconsistant, and will betray you? well, okay, that's a good reason for not joining a gang thereof, but the philosophy was not deconstructed AT ALL. The sister...
Published on Sept. 13 2003 by Celia


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most powerful films of our time, Jan. 11 2004
By 
S. Culp (Valencia, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
In a word, this film is fabulous.
It is an emotionally engaging, heartrending experience, essentially unlike anything I have ever seen before.
It is a shame that this movie remains relatively unknown--it is certainly comparable to some of the greatest "classic" films that people tout much more openly: the stark, unflinching way in which it addresses some of the darkest elements not only of our society, but of the individual, is unforgettable.
This is THE film for anyone who is looking for a thought-provoking, stirring, and unbelievably raw work.
Norton (who, incidentally, ended up contributing a great deal in the post-production process after the director effectively abandoned the project) delivers a fabulous and haunting performance.
NOTE: This film is not for everyone. Approach with an open mind, or stay away.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best movies I've ever seen, March 29 2007
By 
tbott "T" (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
After being introduced to Edward Norton in Primal Fear, I was once again blown away by his performance in American History X. Norton is supported by cast featuring such actors as Stacey Keach (Mike Hammer and Prison Break), Edward Furlong (John Conner, Terminator), Beverly D'Angelo (Ellen Griswald, European Vacation, et al) Elliot Gould (M*A*S*H*, The Shining) and Avery Brooks (Star Trek Deep Space Nine).

I would have to say that if you can make it through the first fifteen minutes of the film's graphic violence and hatred that the rest of the movie is a must see.

We are introduced to Derek, through his little brother's retelling of the violent episode that sent Derek to prison and the events thereafter. Danny Vineyard (Edward Furlong) idolizes his older brother and yearns to be just like him. He enjoys the knowledge that everyone identifies him as the brother of the most respected member of their white supremacy group, headed by Cameron. Stacey Keach is perfect in this role. You can almost see the slime oozing off him.

Conflict arises when a black high school teacher, whom Derek had admired before his initiation into racism, recognizes the potential that Danny possesses, but sees him following in his older brother's footsteps. He seeks Derek out in prison and asks his help in setting Danny on the right path.

The prison scenes alternate between horrifying and down right hilarious as Derek comes to the realization that he may have been wrong in his biases of people. Derek sets out to save his brother from perpetuating the life that he has led.

This movie runs the full gamete of emotions. In the space of an hour and a half, I laughed and I cried. I was disgusted, mortified, amused, and enlightened. The truly disturbing thing was that Norton is so convincing and likeable in the role that you can almost buy into his disgusting racist rhetoric. I think that is why this is one of my favorite movies. It makes everyone human, politically, ethically or morally right or wrong. Regardless of our views we are all just people, and we love our families unconditionally, no matter how dysfunctional.

I would recommend this film to anyone who has a strong sense of empathy, community, or social justice. Keep in mind though; you have to have a strong stomach too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American History, Jan. 4 2012
This review is from: American History X: SteelBook Edition [Blu-ray + DVD] (Blu-ray)
Probably one of the best movies I've watched in awhile ---- confronting, violent & full of emotion ( a must watch ) be ready for the big ending -- AAA+++
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5.0 out of 5 stars This film was flat out amazing!!, Jan. 3 2004
By 
Mitch Weaver (Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) loses his father Dennis (William Russ), who is a firefighter , that died putting out a firefighter in a crack house. Ever since then, Derek has been filled with hate, rage, violence, and racism. He joins up with Cameron Alexander ( Stacey Keach) who is the leader of the Nazi movement in Los Angeles. One night Derek catches three African American men breaking into his car, and he kills them. Derek is sent to prison for six years. While inside, Derek reluctantly becomes friends with an African American prisoner named Lamont (Guy Torry). Over time, Lamont causes Derek to realize that all his hate and anger never made his life any better. Now he is out and a changed man. Unfortunately , his brother Danny ( Edward Furlong) is headed in the exact same direction Derek was, and loves the life of a Nazi. Now it is up to Derek to save his brother and teach him the true meaning of redemption.
"American History X" is one of the best films that I have ever seen. The story is amazing, all the actors are outstanding, and the script provides for shocking scenes and great dialogue overall. The film takes an extremely controversial look at racism and shows just how damaging it can be. Watching the film unfold will leave you in awe. The parts dealing with Derek's past are shot in black and white to give them more of an ominous appeal. The present is shot in color to give the appearance of hope. Edward Norton gives the performance of his career as Derek Vinyard. He plays both sides of the character great. He is very convincing as a skinhead, and after prison shows that redemption is possible. Edward Furlong in my opinion did the best job in the movie. Furlong supplies extremely realistic emotion to let the audience know the inner conflict that his character is dealing with. The reason the character has such an impact on the film is because he is only trying to be like his brother. The rest of the cast was filled with excellent actors that include Stacey Keach, Avery Brooks, Ethan Suplee, Beverly De Angelo, and Fairuza Balk.
"American History X" is a highly controversial and disturbing film. It has shocking scenes and a realistic look at racism. But the story and characters are emotionally driven, and Derek's fight towards retribution is inspriring! It is an entertaining film, but an important one as well. A truly memorable classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars American History X, Jan. 1 2004
It surprises me that when I talk to people about this movie that a large amount of them haven't heard of this movie. This movie is does an excellent job at showing the true reality of racism in American. While not all racists are quite as radical as the characters in this movie, it does show racism in all is aspects. Edward Norton does an amazing job at portraying his character who's a leader and a an idolized racist who holds against the minorities because his father was killed by blacks. Edward Furlong plays Norton's little brother who looks up to him and adapts to his ways and tries constantly to impress his brother. Once Norton's character goes to jail for brutally murdering three blacks his little sets out and indulges himself further into the realm in which Norton had surrounded himself in. After Norton comes back from jail, changed and eager to leave the life he once lived, his brother begins to question his older brother.
This all results in what turns out to be one of the strongest messages against racism that has been portayed in American cinema as of today. This is of course a movie for the more mature of audiences but I garuntee that whether you like it or not you will give your opinions some thought.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Is it racism an american institution?, Dec 24 2003
By 
Caravaggio "A World Watcher" (from Antartica, the last free land in the World) - See all my reviews
I used to wonder if racism could be considered an north american institution; a part of the north american culture. I don't any more after watching this film.
There's is a word used in the film "The Shawshank Redemption" that applies fine to American History X, and it's meant to point over the attitude to life of a prisoner (played by Morgan Freeman in that film, a color actor) which described very well how the human behavior could be "shaped" by the institutions (there represented by the prison system). Well..., American History X portraits to a modest extent, how a paternal figure, friends and even the neighborhood may turn a young naive wasp boy into an active racist pro-nazi leader. He do becomes an outstanding leader when his conduct was molded by the social pressure of his racial pairs.
The plot puts on the front how he became "institutionalized" after his father was killed by ratial motifs. Irrational anger and a desire for revenge can become an explosive mix when racism enters.
The film is quite powerful and Edward Norton couldn't be better as Derek Vineyard, playing the "institucionalized" racist leader.
The film puts on the table what "pushes" white people to violently attack and discriminate black, hispanic and asian people and viceverse, and surprinsingly, also at some point in the film, why each racial group may do care and protect to its racial "opposite" or even to destroy its race equals.
Don't miss it if you truly want to know more about how racism can be spreaded or avoided in North America and whom the truly victims are of this social, yet unsolved conflict in the USA at the beginning of the 21th. century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "American History X": Providing Insight into Hate, Dec 2 2003
By 
Daniel R. Sanderman (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
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From an incredibly unknown director, "American History X" is a powerful film that brings the audience face-to-face with white supremacy. But this is not the easily dismissed, ignorant white supremacy that is represented in so many films these days. Rather, it is white supremacy in the mind of an extremely intelligent young man played by Edward Norton. While anyone with reasonable intelligence can see the holes in Derek Vinyard's logic, the arguments themselves are delivered with powerful and forceful eloquence that is absolutely shocking. Norton's performance is riveting; I am constantly amazed at the depth of his acting ability. One is able to go from hating him to being moved by him to absolutely routing for him-all in the same film.
The movie is extremely graphic and moving. "American History X" is not your typical film about racism and violence. It manages to emerge from the rubble and provide a positive message for those of us who are left to deal with the world. Hate is learned; one can see that in the lives of these two neo-Nazis. But it can also be forgotten. The most important thing, however, is to never learn to hate in the first place. Not only does this film provide insight into the making of a racist, it empathizes with those who are unwittingly caught up in the false logic the white supremacists sell. Many movies try to dismiss those who hate. This film tries to understand where they are coming from and shows us how close we all are to crossing the line. I highly recommend this film to everyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars this movie, Nov. 1 2003
By 
Some Fool (GOETTINGEN Germany) - See all my reviews
this movie was written by a certain david mckenna. he grew up and went to my high school together. a couple of years ago i had a chance to talk to him after a very chance encounter in santa monica. dave explained that his script was completely rewritten after he sold the rights to it.
the original ending was the most important section of the film and it was completely altered. the original script calls for a accidental murder of the character danny, and a more thoughtful exposition of the thesis of the film, which is principally about fear and how fear shapes our societies, and a small view into how this might come about.
dave explained that the edward norton "skinhead" character's realization of ignorance and fear was much more fully and subtley developed than in the final cut. this is unfortunate, and i think that dave's original script would have made a more meaningful movie.
the idea of portraying a charasmatic white power neo-nazi is absolutely controversial, but in analysing the movie ( even the final product ) i think it is very clear that the "logic" behind nazi theories shown is extremely faulty. in fact, the inspiration for "derek" to embrace these ideas is absolutely linked to his personal and emotional experiences and not his logical mind. if you want to judge for yourself, watch the film closely!
all in all, this film was well directed, and in my opinion very well acted. certain parts could have been made more realistic, like the basketball sequence. (ed norton is not a basketball good player by any standards...but that is trivial).
this is a movie that interested me, and if you watch it remember that it was not intended by the writer to play out exactly as it does.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must see, Oct. 21 2003
By 
James Terrell - See all my reviews
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This movie gets everything right. I think a comparison to Ralph Ellison's classic novel Invisible Man is in order when evaluating this film. It makes a statement without offering any solutions. It's a sobering experience about injustice and the rift humans have with each other, especially, but not exclusively in terms of race. It's not so easy to dismiss the racism as being narrow-minded in this movie. The director does a good job of not falling into the trap that racism is wrong for no other reason than it just is. We see the full picture. We see why Derek (Edward Norton) feels the way he does. We see how his actions have affected his whole family. This movie is about people trying to make sense of their world. With American History X we are given a snapshot into a family. An American family. Good, bad, ugly, warts and all. The characters experience compassion, hate, anger, grief, love, forgiveness, and pain. There is no sugar-coating. This a heart-renching and heavy movie. The acting is completely believable and the direction is perfect. I think too many people write this movie off as a movie about racial issues. I think that is a mistake, and further more racial issues are only a part of what this movie has to offer.
However, this film is not for the faint of heart. I tried to get my mom to see it, but she just couldn't take. It's not an easy film to watch. So if that doesn't sound like your cup of tea I would not reccommend this movie to you. But I would also add that sometimes going through something difficult makes you a better person in the end.
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4.0 out of 5 stars the sins of your past can come back to haunt you..., Oct. 12 2003
By A Customer
I thought this an interesting, well-acted movie. In response to the comments of some previous reviewers, I don't think it was meant to be anti-conservative propaganda, for the simple fact that most of Derek's conservative views (on issues like Rodney King and illegal immigrants) were never rebutted at any point during the movie. To me, the movie seemed to be saying that blind hatred and violence are not productive means of addressing complex social problems. It is true, as another reviewer wrote, that the movie didn't offer any real solution to racism, but I don't think that was the point. No one has the "magic solution" to racism, but Derek's actions before he was sent to jail were clearly not the solution (they only lead to further division), and I think the movie succeeded in demonstrating that. By the way, just to tell you a little about myself, I'm black, male, I'm not a Democrat (no political affiliation), and I believe there are serious problems with the affirmative action system....
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