Derek Vinyard is dangerous, a coiled fury of hate who leads a neo-Nazi gang. But time and events start to change him. He reassesses his ways while doing time for manslaughter and emerges from prison eager to keep his young... more »er brother (Edward Furlong) from falling victim to the thug cycle of violence and payback. It may be too late. Weaving in and out of events past and present in Dereks life, American History X is revealing in its look at white-supremacist gangs and impassioned in its message that hatred and bigotry can be unlearned. Edward Norton (Fight Club, Pride and Glory) portrays Derek, giving a powerful, persuasive, Oscar®-nominated* performance.« less
"How terrifying is it while listening to some of Edward Norton's rants in this movie....that you actually begin to understand his point of view on things? That's a very important aspect of this film. The hatred spewing from his mouth along with statistical evidence and insightful rhetoric places the viewer amist what seems to be an actual white supremicist rally. It becomes easy to see how so many fall into crowds like this with characters like the fictional Derrick Vinyard preaching to the masses. Many people don't like the way the world around them is. They're looking for a change. People like Vinyard offer a path to that change.But this story is mainly about redemption. The redemption of the character in question, Derrick Vinyard. Only after he loses everything can he begin to see the horrible path that he has beaten for his younger brother who is speedily chasing after him. The unlikely friendship with a black prison inmate and the tutalage of his former principle are what helps him return to his humanity. The simple yet distanced solution to all the hatred and anger that he's felt most of his life comes like an epiphany: "It's just not worth it." A point that he vehemently drives into those around him.Be forwarned, this is not a happy story. The ending is tragic yet depressingly real. Hatred becomes a vicious circle."
One of the best movies I have ever seen.
FloozyFlapper1926 | Somewhere in the 20's | 02/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the movies that touched me more than any others have in quite a long time. It puts a human face on skinheads, not glorifying them yet showing how a young person can be warped by a racist father and what racism can do to a family. Derek Vinyard had to learn the truth about racism the hard way by being betrayed in prison and he began to question his beliefs after a black man is the only person who befriends him. He begins to understand how futile and destructive hatred is only to pay for his mistakes in the end. At times this movies is difficult to watch but I think it is important for everyone to see. Ed Norton definitely deserved the oscar for this film and was cheated. Anyone who watches this will see how racism only destroys families, hurts others and destroys one's self in the end. It is brutal yet honest and it is what good filmmaking is all about it. I would give it ten stars if I could. Simply brilliant."
Truth about Racism........
Jacqueline M. Lum | North Olmsted, Ohio | 06/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"American History is chilling story about a skinhead Derek (Norton) who is sent to prison for killing two blank gang members. During his incarceration he is subjected to the brutal ways of prison society. In the prison laundry Derek meets a fellow black inmate who has no ill-feeling towards Derek's racist beliefs and helps Derek change his attitudes towards other people. Overtime, Derek begins too see the damage racism has brought to himself and his family. Unfortunately Derek's younger brother is heading towards the same path Derek took. Derek is determined too stop his brother and faces his former gang and mentor.American History should be shown to all high school kids because the movie has such a strong message. The part of the movie that struck me was Derek's family. His family was emotionally and morally bankrupt by the past racism inflicted by Derek's deceased father and Derek himself. Ed Norton's portrayal as a young racist was chilling and convincing. You could feel his rage and hatred towards society and minorities in general. I thought Ed Norton deserved an Oscar, however the academy gets weak knees about issues such as racism. I would recommend this movie..."
...From the better angels of our nature...
masonx | 09/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stunningly powerful movie which left me and my friends in a state of quiet and thoughtful contemplation even as the titles were concluding. A cautionary tale I guess set in Venice Beach,California about hate and prejudice.Two common human traits of which none of us are innocent.A talented cast led by those two Edwardians,Norton and Furlong of a story about a young neo nazi who is jailed for three years after the cold blooded killing of a black man attempting to steal his car.This flashback scene is not for the faint-hearted.He is unremorseful at first but eventually finds his epiphany within the stark reality of the prison walls.Enough said.Despite the controversial nature of the film it does cut to the core hard and fast.I especially liked the flashbacks in black&white.An often used device which works well here,as does the quote by Abraham Lincoln towards the end,"...we must not be enemies but friends..." Many critics have been scathing of the one dimensional supporting characters and they may be right in that respect,Nortons exceptional performance not withstanding but this still does not devalue it from being one of the most critical and memorable films to come out of hollywood for a long time.One of my top ten for this last decade of the millenium and well deserved."
EXPLOSIVE AND POWERFUL
Mr. N. Carnegie | Kirkcaldy, Scotland, UK. | 11/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edward Norton gives an extraordinarily brilliant (and Oscar nominated) performance as Derek Vinyard, a neo-nazi skinhead in this explosive and powerful drama about two brothers caught up in a cycle of racial hatred and violence. Told through the eyes of Derek's younger brother Danny, superbly portrayed by Edward Furlong, this is the story of a family torn apart after the loss of their firefighter father, killed whilst working in a black neighbourhood. As a result, the highly intelligent Derek (Norton), already influenced by his late father's bigotry and manipulated by cowardly fascist Cameron Alexander (Stacy Keach) becomes the charismatic leader of a local gang of skinheads. This inevitably leads to friction within Derek's family and his imprisonment for the murder of two black youths. Whilst in prison hero-worshipping Danny (Furlong) seeks to emulate his older brother and becomes more and more involved with the white power movement and influenced by Cameron (Keach) and his mindless morons. However, with a hero's welcome being planned for Derek's release from prison, he returns to his neighbourhood a changed man and sets out to repair the damage he's done to his family and to persuade his brother not to travel the same road.Brilliantly written by David Mc.Kenna and with top-notch performances from both its male leads (ably supported by Avery Brooks and Stacy Keach) American History X is an intelligent and powerful examination of the causes and existence of racial bigotry and hatred. It does not seek to sensationalise rascism or violence but neither does it duck the issues. Controversial because of its frank portrayal of rascists as human beings, the scariest part of watching American History X is how credible and believable Edward Norton's rascists arguments (as the charismatic leader Derek Vinyard) can be and how easy it must be for impressionable youth to be drawn into a world of hatred and violence. This is as much education as entertainment and essential viewing for fans of intelligent drama. Described by the critics as "magnificent", "extraordinary" and "outstanding" American History X genuinely is a must see movie and a must own DVD."