IN SHORT: WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE THIS MOVIE? I suggest going out and either buying or renting this movie right now. This is a masterpiece of a film, but be warned; it definitely earns its R rating with plenty of profanity.
There is definitely a bunch of controversy surrounding American History X, and not just because of the racial theme. Director Tony Kaye tried and failed to get his name pulled from the movie, because Edward Norton supposedly changed a lot of scenes in the movie and had final cut. The truth about how much Norton changed will probably never be revealed, but it doesn’t matter. Whoever wants credit, Kaye or Norton, made an incredibly layered and brilliant film.
American History X shows the fall of Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton), a bright and persuasive young man, into the blame and hate of neo-Nazi skinhead gangs. After a few years in prison, Derek has seen the error in his ways and he tries to cut his ties with his former gang, keep his family safe, and he must keep his younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong) from walking down the same path of anger.
As soon as the film began, I was drawn in and taken for an emotional rollercoaster. It is an intricate weave of family, brotherhood, redemption, and anger all stitched together with racism and culture. Maybe it’s because I have an older brother, but the relationship between Derek and Danny is incredibly realistic and touching. Derek is Danny’s hero, just like my older brother was my hero growing up, which makes it hard to watch as Danny follows in his brothers footsteps of hatred. The damage of Derek’s involvement with the neo-Nazi on his family is also documented very well throughout the movie, and it makes you wonder when is it to late for redemption and what happens when your past sins finally catch up with you?
Edward Norton is an incredible actor, and he gives his absolute best performance here. It is chilling just how convincing he is when he justifies his racism. The entire supporting cast does a great job as well, especially Ethan Suplee who plays a fat, stupid, and incredibly racist skinhead. This film is cut and put together extremely well, highlighted by great shots of Venice Beach and slow motion capturing all the emotions felt by the characters. This is all topped off by an incredible score composed of a great orchestra and choir.It is almost impossible to find anything negative about this movie. Maybe a couple of lines from small characters like a prison guard aren’t delivered too well, but that’s about it. This film is perfection. It is so incredibly emotional from beginning to end, and is just put together so well, that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I don’t say that a lot. I highly recommend American History X to anyone and everyone. This is one of the only times I have ever given out a perfect score for a movie.