American History X is a movie that was released back in 1998 and it wasn't that successful commercially. It cost $20M to make and made $23M, Hollywood considers a movie successful if it makes back three times what it cost to make. But it is certainly a well known movie and one I had seen before but not for quite some time.
The movie is very well made and the acting is superb, this was the first and nearly the last movie that the Director made, he has mostly made music videos and shorts. The script had been floating around for a few years and it had a reputation as being the best script that no one wanted to make. Maybe the lack of mainstream success of the Director shows why.
Edward Norton plays the main character, in fact he plays three different versions of the same character, all believable. In fact the only character I didn't believe was the father, who has a short scene near the end of the movie. Here we get to see an actor trying to deliver lines he really doesn't agree with and it shows.
The story is told in three time periods, Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is a Neo-Nazi who's father was a firemen who was murdered while doing his job in a black neighbourhood. He kills two black criminals and goes to jail. Released after three years he has turned against what he once believed. Another character who weaves in and out of the story is his younger brother, Danny.
The politics of the movie is quite interesting, it seems to be giving you entry to a world that you would not get to see otherwise, but it is also a case of close but not close enough. It is Hollywood's idea of what Neo-Nazi's should look and sound like and not an attempt to accurately portray anyone as they were. I think in particular of the words, a few times throughout the movie real political issues are raised, such as illegal immigration, black crime etc. Nearly everything said is true, but in other areas the moviemakers don't believe the words spoken. In the background is a Svengali like character pulling the strings. Neo-Nazi's don't really believe what they say, they are simply misguided and ill-informed. Once shown the right path then they will and can and should be reformed.
The movies attitude to blacks is a bit confused, there is not one but two black saviours and yet black crime is ever present and not excused away. The black Principal who gives Danny a school project entitled 'American History X' and Derek's black prison buddy who protects him in prison. But at the same time their father was murdered by blacks, blacks tried to steal Derek's car leading to him killing them and black criminality continues right to the end of the movie.
Something that I've noticed is that Hollywood often gets Jewish actors to play Non-Jews and Non-Jews to portray Jews. The actress who plays Derek's Neo-Nazi girlfriend is Jewish.
If Derek were a real person, today he would have a black wife and children and he would make his living denouncing Whites. His turnaround is that complete. In the deleted scenes there is a scene where he has this interaction with a little black girl. He goes from hate to love.
Also three years for killing two people, one by shooting them and the other by curb stomping them!
The subtext is that Nao-Nazi's are protected, which love them or hate them, ain't true. But the most unrealistic part of the movie is Derek's giant swastika above his heart. Every time I saw it it looked as fake as it really was.
On IMBD this movie is rated 8.5 out of 10, I would give it 7.5 but only because like most movies it is propaganda and here it's showing a bit too much.
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