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American History X (1998)

8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 557,164 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 1,346 user | 151 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

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Title: American History X (1998)

American History X (1998) on IMDb 8.6/10

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Top 250 #33 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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A story about a troubled boy growing up in England, set in 1983. He comes across a few skinheads on his way home from school, after a fight. They become his new best friends even like family. Based on experiences of director Shane Meadows.

Director: Shane Meadows
Stars: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley
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Cast

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Jason Bose Smith ...
Little Henry (as Jason Bose-Smith)
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Storyline

Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for killing two thugs who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother, Danny Vineyard's narration, we learn that before going to prison, Derek was a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that committed acts of racial crime throughout L.A. and his actions greatly influenced Danny. Reformed and fresh out of prison, Derek severs contact with the gang and becomes determined to keep Danny from going down the same violent path as he did. Written by Nitesh D.(nmxpa7@msn.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | skinhead | neo nazi | gang | murder | See more »

Taglines:

His father taught him to hate. His friends taught him rage. His enemies gave him hope. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic brutal violence including rape, pervasive language, strong sexuality and nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1998 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

American History X  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£120,629 (UK) (26 March 1999)

Gross:

£291,438 (UK) (2 April 1999)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Edward Norton was said to have re-edited the film to lengthen his screen time. Director Tony Kaye then attempted to get his name removed but violated a Directors' Guild of America rule that states that directors that use pseudonyms (such as "Alan Smithee") must not talk about why they had their name removed - which Tony Kaye had done in ads in Variety. Kaye sued the DGA and New Line Cinema for $200 million stating that the DGA rule violated his first amendment rights. See more »

Goofs

When the two brothers are sitting in the bedroom and Danny gets up off the bed, you hear him talking to Derek but his mouth is not moving. See more »

Quotes

Danny Vinyard: So I guess this is where I tell you what I learned - my conclusion, right? Well, my conclusion is: Hate is baggage. Life's too short to be pissed off all the time. It's just not worth it. Derek says it's always good to end a paper with a quote. He says someone else has already said it best. So if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong. So I picked a guy I thought you'd like. 'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not ...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Sopranos: The Second Coming (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Battle Hymn of the Republic
(circa 1856) (uncredited)
Music by William Steffe
Lyrics by Julia Ward Howe (1862)
Sung a cappella by Ethan Suplee with modified lyrics
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Not a perfect film, but very good - Norton's performance is the highlight
2 September 2005 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"American History X" is a bold and disturbing movie about family, racism and our own self-perceptions. Its main character is Derek (Edward Norton), a neo-Nazi skinhead who is released from jail to find his younger brother (Edward Furlong) descending down the same corrupt path as he once walked.

In jail Derek learns a few things about life, and racism, or more appropriately, himself, and after becoming a free man again takes it upon himself to set his brother on the straight and narrow path.

"American History X" is not a pleasant motion picture. It begins in flashback, as Derek murders two black kids trying to break into his car. His brother, who idolizes Derek and later mimics his lifestyle, witnesses this event. It's a good message about negative influences, along with everything else.

Much has been made of the film's controversy and lawsuits. Director Tony Kaye disowned the film after Norton (allegedly) re-edited footage to give himself more screen time. Kaye tried to have his name changed on the film credits, but by this time he had already taken out a complaint in several magazines, which are against the rules of the Director's Guild. He was therefore denied the opportunity to credit the work as "directed by Humpty Dumpty." Then, musical band Anti-Hero complained to New Line Cinema (the film's international distributor) because one of the Nazi characters featured a tattoo of their band. They later wrote a song, called "NLC," bashing the company.

Despite the hard-edged controversy it's still a very good film, above all else extremely well-acted and featuring a gripping storyline – even if the direction isn't always up to par.

Edward Norton is simply superb in his role, showing extremely raw talent a mere two years after his film debut (in the Richard Gere thriller "A Primal Fear"). Norton careens between the role of a raging, vicious supremacist and a kindler, gentler version of the same character; a metamorphosis so convincing it's hard to believe it's just one actor.

The rest of the cast is good as well – Furlong gives the best performance of his career and Beverly D'Angelo and Stacy Keach have strong supporting roles. (D'Angelo in particular, who portrays a sleazy alcoholic – a stretch compared to her usual Normal Mom roles in the "Vacation" movies.) "American History X" isn't exactly rewarding of all the praise it has been lavished since its release (mainly from viewers rather than critics, who were less kind) – it isn't the best movie of its kind or even a flawless one. The black-and-white photography isn't on the same level, visually, as "Raging Bull" or "Schindler's List." The preaching is a bit heavy-handed at times.

But it still manages to convey an important lesson and boasts great acting complimented by an (overall) impressive, gut-wrenching screenplay. A must-see for all who can stomach its content.


17 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Coffee shop scene doubt... cervece41
Edward Norton was so super sexy in this film! Marie246
Derek was a hypocrite Droogbox17
Why do black people tend to hate this film? rs90
Doing Laundry will make you see the Light tigermail-lb
Danny slamming Derek against the garage door Rimz
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