1,428 user 161 critic

American History X (1998)

2:25 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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



383 ( 86)
Top Rated Movies #31 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Se7en (1995)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his modus operandi.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
Crime | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

Director: Frank Darabont
Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse
Fight Club (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

An insomniac office worker, looking for a way to change his life, crosses paths with a devil-may-care soap maker, forming an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Following the Normandy Landings, a group of U.S. soldiers go behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper whose brothers have been killed in action.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
Forrest Gump (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade.

Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman
The Departed (2006)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which begin when five criminals meet at a seemingly random police lineup.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri
Gladiator (2000)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
Goodfellas (1990)
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci


Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Bose Smith ...
Little Henry (as Jason Bose-Smith)


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 | neo nazi | jail | murder | hatred | See All (235) »


Er ist sein bruder. Und sein opfer. (He's his brother. And his victim.) (German DVD) See more »


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:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

20 November 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American History X  »

Box Office


$7,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$156,076 (USA) (30 October 1998)


$6,712,241 (USA) (26 March 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The work-print is 18 minutes shorter then the theatrical version. See more »


In the beginning of the film, when Derek runs out of the house and finishes shooting at the thief stealing his truck, in slow motion he turns around facing the camera, with the gun still in the same hand he was using to fire it. Later on in the movie, when this scene is replayed from a different shot, he turns around and puts the gun in his other hand. See more »


[On Derek's change in prison]
Danny Vinyard: I'm sorry, Derek. I'm sorry that happened to you.
Derek Vinyard: I'm not. I'm lucky. I feel lucky because it's wrong, Danny. It's wrong and it was eating me up, it was going to kill me. And I kept asking myself all the time, how did I buy into this shit? It was because I was pissed off, and nothing I ever did ever took that feeling away. I killed two guys, Danny, I killed them. And it didn't make me feel any different. It just got me more lost and I'm tired of being pissed off, ...
See more »


Referenced in Manhunt (2003) See more »


The White Man Marches On
by Johnny Rebel
[To the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic.]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Intelligent Drama
28 September 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Strong performances by Edward Norton & Edward Furlong really make this film for me. The direction by Tony Kaye with his mixture of black & white history contrasting with colourful reality is magic to absorb and shows this film up to be what it is – a true American Classic, ironically by a British director.

The film itself is about two brothers, Derek the elder and Danny the younger adoring sibling. Derek has been in jail for three years after killing a black youth who tried to rob the family; the nature & brutality of the crime still shocks me to this day.

AHX tracks Derek's history through the first formation of racist sentiment laid down by the father. These feeling of hate are embedded when later his father is killed in the line of duty. Derek becomes involved in the local Nazi movement, his intellect turned by youthful rage into hate crimes and the rational that comes with Neo Nazi propaganda.

The Nazi-tattoo sporting, egotistical, philosophical younger Derek is a steam train waiting to crash, his propulsion to stardom is eventually embodied when he takes the life of the young thief, the scene is very apt as he calmly lies down and knows he will be a hero to his friends.

Without wanting to spoil the film Derek encounters change in the prison, he meets a black man whom he works with and faces his own demons inside, I will leave it there for those who want to be moved by his transformation. Anyway, he comes out a new man and only wants to be that new person, which means leaving the old crowd, leaving the Anti-Jewish sepal he's been living with so long. The problem lies with his brother who has become a little Derek, getting drunk and being influenced like he was. Derek's cross to bear is that he can't change his life without his brother coming with him and being on the right side of humanity.

I think that this film is less about race and more about our ability to change as individuals, the fact that we can become what and who we want is a gift. Derek becomes the man he always wanted to be, he only wants the same for his brother.

Kaye's use of black & white creates an atmospheric drama that builds tension and has you feeling like a stung out piece of drum leather by mid movie. I love the way that Kaye subtly uses quotes and intellectualises the Nazi Stance, only to watch it being broken down by the same man (Derek / Norton).

Norton is a joy to watch as is Gould and Furlong.

To sum up American History X is a powerful intelligent drama, which provides plenty of discussion after the movie. This film should be on every high school curriculum…

113 of 186 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
was derek wrong for shooting the two outside his house? dkenney_39
The Best Male Performance in Film History. powermandan
Why did they emulate Nazis if they were all about hating blacks? curlz813
Something about Norton's acting enamarie-avila
Why do black people tend to hate this film? rs90
Ending of this movie , what does director/Story writer mean by it ? yothisisyo
Discuss American History X (1998) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page