American History X (DVD)

Starring Edward Furlong et al

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R 54

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South Africa
  1. 2
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  1. Tony Kaye
American History X (DVD)
Running Time
  1. Edward Furlong
  2. Edward Norton
  3. Fairuza Balk
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This past weekend I was privileged to watch American History X. This movie surely must be one of the best movies of the past year. American History X is an awesome, thought provoking cinematic experience. Even now days later, images of the movie flash before me in my mind’s eye. It is as though the movie is still playing in the theater of my mind.
American History X is the first movie by Tony Kaye, who comes from an advertising background. He was also the director of photography. Most of the movie plays of in a single day, with the flashback scenes shot in sharp black and white colours. American History X provides us with a stunning portrayal of racial hatred and how the actions of our past can have dire consequences on the future, affecting and causing harm to those we love even though we might have changed.
American History X starts of with Edward Norton, playing the part of the charismatic Derek, killing two black men who are attempting to steal his pick-up truck. Edward Norton was also deservedly nominated for an Oscar for this role. Here we also get to see a shocking scene, though it is off camera, of one of the thieves being forced to open his mouth and place his teeth against the roadside curb. Derek then with calculated brutally stamps on the back of his thief’s head, killing him. All those watching will cringe at this as they imagine their teeth being knock out on the cold hard pavement.
Derek is arrested and sent to prison for the two murders. With his shaven head, large tattooed swastika over his heart, and well muscled torso, Derek appears to be every bit the mean cold hearted racist killer that he is is. But inside prison Derek begins to realize all his hate has been misguided and that he has only been the unwilling pawn for the local white supremacists ring leader, played by Stacy Keach. Derek’s younger brother Danny, protrayed by the highly talented Edward Furlong, is eager to follow in the revered footsteps of his highly respected elder brother. Danny is also being coached in the lessons of race hate by Stacy Keach. On his release from prison Derek has the task of trying to save his younger brother from following down the same road to misery he has walked.
Through the course of the day Derek is with his family. Because Derek’s mother is ill and there is no real bread winner in the family as Derek’s father was killed by a black man a few years earlier, they are by necessity driven to live in a pathetic poor white trash neighborhood. Derek is forced to take harsh action to break the chains of the life he led before being sent to prison. He feels it is necessary if he wants to give Danny a chance he did not have, and also to try and rectify his own past deeds.
Through flashbacks we learn what life was like in prison and how the family got along before Derek was sent to prison.
What American History X does well is to show us just how rational sounding hate can be. If we allow our fears and ignorance to guide us then tragedy can be the only result. All we as human beings can do is to try and live in harmony with one another. We must look past colour, religion and social standards and recognize that essential we are all the same. Unfortunately even today, ethnic, religious and other differences are the cause of so much pain and suffering. It makes me wonder if we die and we get to heaven, will be still be segregated, or will the struggle continue till the ends of time?
Who knows? As I said this before, this is a movie that will make you think. Its message is universal. It could have been shot right here in South Africa, and you wouldn’t have needed to change much of the script. Every once in awhile a movie comes along which transcends the medium it is presented in. American History X is such a movie and can deservedly be called a work of art.

GENRE: Drama


CAST: Edward Nortan, Edward Furlong, Beverly D¡¦ Angelo, Avery Brooks, Fairuza Balk, Stacey Keach, Elliot Gould

YEAR: 1998


LENGTH: 114 Min.



Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) returns from prison to find his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), caught in the same web of racism and hatred that landed him in prison. After Derek's father is killed in the line of duty by a minority, Derek's view of mankind is altered, but while in prison, he discovers that there is good and bad in every race. The task before him now is to convince Danny of his newfound enlightenment.




DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Entertainment in Video

SCREEN FORMAT: 1.85:1 Anamorphic PAL

AUDIO: English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround



„« Deleted Scenes (3)
„« Theatrical Trailer
„« Cast and Crew Biographies

Because the movie plays out in two different time settings the past is presented via flashbacks in black and white, and the present in colour. The black and white parts are some of the best images I¡¦ve seen on screen so far. The director uses a lot of slow motion shots during these sequences which are well enhanced and crystal clear. In fact I enjoyed the flashback sequences even more than it¡¦s colour counterpart, not that there were any problems on the colour side but it just looked much better and maybe even suited the movie better in some instances. Overall I couldn¡¦t notice any grain at any time.

Above average 5.1 track which is quite aggressive at times but is not going to give your speakers a full length work out as the film relies heavily on it¡¦s dialogue, which I¡¦m glad to report is very clear at all times. No need to turn the volume up a little to hear things here and there. The music is mixed evenly on the track and comes through powerful. No problems here.

This is where the disc fails miserably. With a couple of deleted scenes and the trailer it would never have been enough for me to purchase this disc had I not enjoyed the movie as much as I did. Surely there were behind the scenes footage and the subject matter of the film alone could fill a whole disc of interesting extras. So now one has to wonder if it¡¦s because of the on-set problems between Norton and the director that caused this disc to suffer? It¡¦s been a couple of years and no talks about a special edition has yet surfaced, and maybe it never will. Truly a big let down.

Observations Highs/Lows:


+ Edward Norton at his best
+ Subject matter keeps interest throughout
+ The famous teeth scene
+ Excellent screenplay with intense dialogue


- When the credits come up








Region details

DVD Region 2

Region 2 - Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories.

R 54

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