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American History X review

Posted : 7 months ago on 12 May 2018 10:17

Los recursos visuales deben estar ahí complementando al todo que es la película, no a maquillar sus defectos. y es que de nada sirve tener una gran fotografía y buenas actuaciones cuando el guión que tienes entre manos es un desastre.
Cuando haces cosas como usar primerísimos planos en una conversación habitual tiene que tener una justificación. Sin embargo da la impresión de que aquí todo está para hacer que la película sea "cool", y encima tratando un tema tan delicado como el nazismo o el origen de la violencia.
El colmo ha sido cuando he leído comparaciones con Kubrick. ¿Qué demonios tendrá que ver una cosa con la otra? la ultraviolencia y la locura estilizadas en una pesadilla hecha película como es La Naranja Mecánica con los recursos vacíos para contar una película convencional como es esta.

El subrayado de los conceptos primordiales de la película es alarmante. Que si primer plano de tatuaje nazi, que si la bandera americana (siempre recordandonos los valores yankies sobre todas las cosas) ondeando al fondo, blah blah blah..

En cuanto al guión es tan trillado que asusta. Ningún personaje está vivo, todos se mueven al vaivén del guionista y de lo que le venga mejor para salir del paso ¿Que decir de personajes como el neonazi gordo? Un personaje tan caricaturesco, estereotipado, exagerado e irreal que roza lo ridículo. Ese personaje no es un humano, no habla como tal, no dice cosas como tal, sus motivaciones no son creíbles, es como un robot creado para repetir frases racistas. Es un cliché mal armado con patas.
El cambio del personaje de Norton es ridículo y en lo absoluto creíble, un día es un nazi convencido y consecuente y al siguiente tiene claro que el nazismo no sirve de nada. Pero si este cambio es absurdo, ¿cómo es el del hermano? Años viendo violencia en su casa y ahora el hermano le cuenta su historia y ¡tachán! ¡otro arrepentido!
Las cosas no funcionan así, una convicción creada durante años no desaparace tan fácil. Si pretendes hacer un guión verosímil no puedes hacer que los personajes cambien de opinión tan fácilmente, que se muevan como a ti más te convenga para soltarnos un ñoño y vacío discurso moralista.
Todo lo que tiene que decir esta película sobre el origen de la violencia es.. mostrar al padre, que hasta entonces ni había aparecido, y mostrarle como un racista convencido. No entiendo como se puede escribir la psicología de los personajes tan mal, todo es horrible.

¿Y ese giro final digno de telenovela? Pero que pinta ahora eso cuando quedan atrás tantos cables sueltos respecto a la historia de los nazis.

¿Cuál era el mensaje final de la película? ¿Haters gonna hate? ¿La importancia de la educación? ¿El racismo? Está totalmente DIFUMINADO. Al final todo está tan trillado y tan forzado que ni siquiera hay lugar para las conclusiones, es una historia plana y moralista sin esencia o vida alguna alguna.
Aunque bienintencionada, acaba siendo una visión simplista y poco convincente de un problema muy serio. Supongo que es lo que pasa cuando adaptas tu guión a tu mensaje y no tu mensaje a tu guión o personajes.

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American History X review

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 26 March 2015 02:58

I cannot recall having seen a film in which the two leading actors deliver such stunning performances as those given by the two Edwards - Norton and Furlong - in this powerful but often bleak and brutal movie. I simply cannot understand why neither seems to have won a major award for his portrayal. The film itself is not quite of the same quality as its leading performances. But it is nonetheless a frequently riveting and thought-provoking watch.

"American History X" tells the story of the problems of racism and neo-Nazism in modern-day Los Angeles. Derek Vinyard (Norton) is a young white working-class man who spends three years in prison for the manslaughter of two black men whom he killed violently when they tried to break into his car in the middle of the night. At that time, Derek was the leader of a local skinhead gang that promotes and supports white supremacy. While serving his prison sentence, Derek undergoes a philosophical conversion. He leaves the penitentiary with radically different ideas and is determined to put his past racism behind him and to move on. That, though, proves to be not an easy task. And, while Derek was in prison, his younger brother Danny (Furlong), who was also a racist skinhead, was on the horns of a dilemma. He found himself torn between an attachment to the ideas of his black high-school principal and those of a local neo-nazi leader.

"American History X" is a very good film. The difficulties that Derek faces in trying to turn his life around and those experienced by his brother in deciding whether to hunt with the pack (the neo-Nazis) or to plough his own more responsible furrow are very effectively portrayed. The film contains a number of very powerful scenes, not least the one in which Derek kills one of the car thieves. Despite its horrific nature, it is not gratuitous. What prevents the film from being a great one is that there is an element of preachiness about it. In addition, some of the characters' motivation is rather too simplistic. The film asks us to believe that Derek's racism sprang largely from a homily delivered during a family meal by his father about the evil of positive discrimination on behalf of black people. (Admittedly, the circumstances of his father's death also proved to be a factor.) And I was not convinced that Derek's friendship with a black prisoner and the influence that the latter had on him would have resulted in his reforming his ideas in quite the easy way in which the film suggests. Despite those weaknesses, "American History X" is a very good film that is well worth watching. 8/10.

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People Can Change

Posted : 7 years, 3 months ago on 16 September 2011 11:57

Can people change? The general consensus, if that person is Derek Vinyard, is no. Derek (Edward Norton) was a crazy-mean white supremacist who committed a brutal crime and wound up in prison.

After a traumatic term, he came out a changed man. This change is derived, including an eye-opening relationship between him and a black prisoner. He comes back to see that although his home has changed, his old gang remains very much the same.

The middle-aged leader and writer of neo-nazi literature (about as artistic as 'Mein Kamf,') Cameron Alexander (Stacy Keach,) is still teaming up unhappy young men and refusing to do any of the dirty work himself.

Derek's girlfriend Stacy (Fairuza Balk,) who was there when the crime was committed, is still a shrill, screeching harpy. But worst of all, Derek's younger brother Danny (Edward Furlong)is getting into 'the life,' heavily influenced by Cameron and his goons.

Unsure of the ideals he once held in high esteem, Derek attempts to divert Danny, only to rouse the attention of Cameron's gang. "American History X," director Tony Kaye's first film, is violent and depressing, yet at times strangely optimistic in it's message of progression and change.

Derek behaves so brutally that his only hope for the future seems to be as a Nazi poster child. An interesting (if not original) method is used in that the past scenes are filmed in black and white. This eliminates the need for the overused '_ ___ ago' technique.

Edward Furlong (the guy from "The Terminator 2- Judgement Day" who isn't former governor of California) and Edward Norton (the guy from "Fight Club" who isn't Brad Pitt) give good performances. This is the movie that made me like Edward Norton (no thanks to "The Incredible Hulk,") and further evidence he's willing to take on daring roles and not rom-com type blockbusters.

One of the problems of the film is the overblown portions of the soundtrack, that leave no emotions to the imagination. On the up side, the characters have an interesting ambiguity and are pretty well-developed.

Despite the fact the movie is about race, the black characters are not sentimentalized or made into 'cute' objects of pity as a plea for tolerance ("To Kill A Mockingbird," anyone?)

"American History X" is an important movie. It is important as a morality tale about race for grown-ups, and as a showcase for superior acting. In a world full of nihilistic revenge movies and one-dimensional melodramas, there is a lot of strength in depicting that people can change, even if it's hard to believe it.

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A really overrated movie

Posted : 8 years, 3 months ago on 20 August 2010 10:31

Since it is such a classic and since it had been more than 10 years since I lat saw it, I thought I should give it a 2nd chance but I ended up exactly with the same feelings. I mean, indeed, the movie has some qualities and, obviously, Edward Norton and Edward Furlong gave some really strong performances. But, unfortunately, the story didn't work so much for me. For example, I didn't buy that idea that a neo-nazi who really hates black people would suddenly completely switch of ideoloy while in prison (in fact, it usually the opposite, they become even worse when they go to jail) and it was the same thing with the little brother, they both kept changing their minds way too easily just for the convenience of the script. Furthermore, there was some very poor symbolism for example with the Black against the White people basketball game or with the end. If you check this movie on the internet, you will see that the production was actually a real mess and the director completely rejected the movie. Most of the time, it is not a really good sign. I have to admit it, there was definitely some powerful stuff in here, absolutely, but it seems that it has blinded somehow the audience towards its obvious flaws. Anyway, to conclude, it is not a bad movie at all, there was some terrific acting invovled but it is definitely not great at all and, in my opinion, it must be one of the most overrated movies ever made.

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Posted : 8 years, 9 months ago on 10 March 2010 02:13

American History X is one of the most heart racing and gut retching films that I have ever seen. It is a film tat a lot of people love because it is just so cool and also because people may just the general plot of the film. It is also one of those films that a lot of people hate aswel because it is an extremely disturbing film with a lot of violence, aggressive characters and extremely disturbing plot too. When I first saw American History X I didnt like it at all because I thought that it was way too violent and quite ridiculous characters at first so it just wasnt quite my type of film at that time until I saw it again and gave it another try. When I did watch it again, I thought to myself: why did I think that this film was crap? It is a film that is sort of appeared as a cult film. Other films like that are Fight Club, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption and The Usual Suspects.

Edward Norton delivers an absolutely awesome performance as Derek Vinyard. His performance is extremely powerful and a very cult character which sort of leads to his character in Fight Club. I do think that this is Nortons best performance by far but I do still really like him in Fight Club and The Incredible Hulk. I also thought that he was a sort of tortured soul because he regretted what he did, what he suffered in prison and also tat he wants to try his best to help his brother from going down the same bad way he did. He deserved an Oscar nomination but not to win though. I heard that Derek Vinyard was a real person but I dont really believe that. I really liked Edward Furlong too as Danny Vinyard. Both the performance and the character sort of reminds me of Shaun from This Is England even though I havent seen that yet. Mostly because they are both young, both bald and both are going through a hard time with crime. I thought that Edward Furlong made Danny Vinyard in a very slight way quite a fearful young character to come against because he hangs around with the wrong people and they cause trouble everywhere. I think that he should have been a close nominee for Best Supporting Actor. I also really liked Beverly D Angelo too as Doris Vinyard because she acts like a typical close relative who cares for her sons and what their fate could be. Also, because she makes a really good impression of a supporting character in a film like this.

I thought the direction was quite good especially when there were the flashbacks of the film when it went black and white and there were slow-motion visual effects too. The screenplay was descent too because of the type of film. It is mostly a typical cult script which makes it quite similar compared to Fight Club and Eastern Promises. The chemistry between Derek Vinyard and Danny Vinyard is very tense indeed because the audience dont know who either character are going to react when they reveal about what they might have done before. It is also very emotional because Derek really tries to persuade Danny that it really is bad but Danny probably thinks it isnt that bad because Derek did it. It is like a complete clash but emotionally more than anything else. This film had one of the most effective and shocking twists at the end of a film that I have ever seen. It is a twist that will make you keep your mouth open until the very end of the film because of the complete shock and unexpected event that occurs.

As I said, I was told that Derek Vinyard was apparantly real-life person but I dont think he is because it would be stated as a biography film and it would also be a film that would have ending credits with what happened to Derek afterwards. I personally think that this is one of those films that the director didnt earn very much credit for his work on this absolutely awesome film. As I have already said, this is my favourite Edward Norton acting performance but I enjoyed Fight Club more. This film truly had one of the most powerful endings in the history of cinema and at the same time, it tries to send a message. It had a very powerful beginning too. The only think that disappointed me was that this film was quite slow and it didnt adapt together quick enough only until it was on for about 30 minutes. Apart from that tiny flaw, this is an absolutely awesome film that needs a lot of credit for its awesome qualities.

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A film that falls short on becoming great

Posted : 9 years, 1 month ago on 19 October 2009 12:19

I don't think I need to explain why this movie is good. It has a fantastic script on occasion, and the film as a whole is very emotionally appealing and it makes the viewer feel most of the things the characters in the film are feeling. At moments like that, it is filmmaking at it's finest. However when it starts rubbing those moments into your face it really starts to loose it's steam. There are really only two issues I have with the entire film; first of all, the destruction of the nazi-iconography is a scene where we are obviously supposed to feel ashamed alongside the main characters. This feeling though... it simply does not transmit to my side of the screen. To me the entire scene is just an overblown punch to the face of every neo-nazi on earth. I don't think that's a bad thing overall, because they tend to be complete twats, but this is contextually in conflict with the message given in the end of the film of being everyone's friend. Why do the main characters just want to ignore and separate themselves from these people, and still make a great big point of being in good relation with everyone? It makes no sense. The other problem I have is the fact that everything is explained. At first I hoped they wouldn't explain why on earth Derek became anti-nazi in the jail, but I understand that some people wouldn't like that to be unexplained. But then there's the father-scene, that literally destroys any amount of speculation this film could've lead to. Kids, if you see a neo-nazi, he's not a bad guy, but his dad is. I mean that's a pretty fucked up message all around for a film supposed to be about their entire culture. I wished this movie would've had the balls to be more ambiguous, but no. It wasn't.

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Posted : 10 years, 7 months ago on 4 May 2008 12:51

"We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained we must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature."

I doubt that the true profound impact of American History X can be accurately described using words. I had wanted to see this film for such a long time but I could never get my hands on a copy. People had told me what a powerful and amazing film American History X turned out to be. Upon finally approaching the film, I was completely bewildered and blown away.

The film is a brilliant, atmospheric tale of redemption told with disturbing images and heavy adult themes. I was left speechless as the credits started to roll.

Derek Vinyard (Norton) is a racist skinhead who is a highly-placed member of a neo-Nazi contingent on Venice Beach. He has strong racist political views and idolises the philosophies of people like Hitler.

The film opens with an introduction to Derek who is sent to prison following the brutal murder of two African-American males caught trying to steal his truck. Three years on and Derek is finally released from prison. But he comes back to a broken family. Derek discovers that his little brother Daniel (Furlong) has decided to take a similar route he took that ended up wrecking his life. While Derek was behind bars he learnt several valuable lessons that altered his perspectives on the world and its citizens; he eventually discovers that there is good and bad in every race. Now that Daniel is caught up in the same web of racism that landed him in gaol, Derek begins trying to convince his little brother of his newfound enlightenment instead of letting him share a similar fate.

American History X is deeply laden with flashbacks that are distinguished by using black & white photography. Because Daniel is being forced to write a paper on his brother these flashbacks give the audience insight into the world that Derek experienced before undergoing redemption and becoming a fresh individual.

The performances almost make the film seem like actual documentary footage. Nothing ever seems staged; it all appears to be bloodcurdlingly real. The high levels of profanity and the brutal, occasionally distressing dialogue also add to this high level of instituted realism.

Edward Norton is an actor who hadn't yet made a big name for himself. When this film was released he was still a small-time actor. His performance in this movie is outstanding. For the black & white flashbacks he is always intimidating and sizzling with rage. The character of Derek Vinyard is unnerving and quite a horrific person to be around. Major recognition to Norton and the passionate performance that he delivered! I had only seen Edward Furlong in Terminator 2 (his acting debut) and only heard that the actor's life was soon filled with drugs and gross misconduct. This only makes his character here so much more real. In the flashbacks Furlong's character is innocent and rather quiet. But in non-flashback territory his character has become just like his brother. It's a bit of a place-switcher in that sense.

The direction and cinematography are sublime. Never did the filmmaking let the audience believe they were watching a staged movie. Everything seems incredibly focused and sophisticated. The script is amazing. I'm not sure whether it was actors improvising or a carefully written script, but the dialogue is all highly naturalistic.

American History X is a film definitely not for the faint of heart. The film is amazing and yet extremely difficult to watch. Drugs, smoking, profanity, nudity, rape, violence - the film has the entire package! If you don't think you can stomach many of the aforementioned qualities then this film is definitely not for you.

American History X is a controversial masterpiece that presents an uncompromising look at its source material. The film is riveting and moody. For the most part, it is also very unsettling and its replayable value is shockingly low.

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American History X review

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 12 August 2007 03:52

A superb film, definitely one of my favourites of all time. Norton's character is portrayed outstandingly and it is amazing to see just how much muscle mass he has managed to put on just for this role! Seeing the sort of neighbourhood his character grows up in and how his behaviour impacts on the rest of his family after the death of his father is really quite moving. You feel a real sense of gloom, with nothing but bad things destined for Norton and his brother.

The scene which shows why Norton is sent to prison is horrifying, but perhaps even more unnerving is the sick smile on his characters face as the police swoop to arrest him. Cue a stint in prison and Norton is a changed man. Much more likable, mature and willing to help his family rather than drag them into the ground. The sense of foreboding never leaves you though and you always feel like some form of devastation is going to blight the family. I was in awe after seeing this film. It's very involving.

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