American History X – A Tale Of Two Edwards

American History X – A Tale Of Two Edwards

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  1. You know Edward Norton from various films including 1999’s Fight Club and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.  Do you know Edward Furlong, though?  He shares the screen with Norton in Tony Kaye’s 1998 film, American History X and he is absolutely amazing.  Edward Norton is great in it as well.  His turn as reformed Neo-nazi, Derek Vineyard, garnered him his only Oscar nomination for Actor in a Leading Role.  Led by these two powerful acting perfomances, American History X is brutally captivaing.

    What is it about?

    American History X tells the story of neo-nazi, Derek Vineyard.  You get to see what leads to his involvement in the neo-nazi gang, why he gets incarcerated, and how that incarceration helps reform him.  The emotional story focuses on Derek’s relationship with his younger brother, Danny.  Danny essentially worships his older brother and wants to be just like him.  However, Derek knows the dangers that his lifestyle brings and wants nothing more than to keep Danny out of the neo-nazi gang. 

    This film is unique because it’s told mostly in flashbacks.  The only action that takes place in the present is Derek getting out of prison and confronting his old skinhead cohorts in order to rescue Danny.  American History X is a touching film about second chances and what a man is willing to do in order to protect his family.

    Is it any good?

    Superb acting and brutally honest storytelling make this film a standout.  It is hard to watch at times, but that’s because its subject matter is hard to deal with.  Racism and violence are at its core and director Tony Kaye doesn’t pull any punches.  He shows everything; even the stuff you don’t want to see.  It paints a true-to-life picture of the darkness that racism, hate, and violence breed while keeping you entertained and invested in the characters.  It even has a shocking twist at the end that will leave your jaw on the floor.  It’s a wonder of emotional and thrilling filmmaking.

    Should I watch it?

    American History X is not for everyone.  It may strike a nerve with some because of its heavily racist language.  It also may turn some off because of the brutal violence that it graphically shows.  Those that watch it, though, will think twice about hating someone for their racial differences and will see that everyone deserves a second chance, no matter how evil they have been in the past.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

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