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American History X (1998)

8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 597,483 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 1,361 user | 153 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)

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Top 250 #31 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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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

Taglines:

He is his brother. And his victim. (German DVD) 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:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joaquin Phoenix was offered the role of Derek Vinyard but found the subject matter of the film distasteful and passed on the project. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Cameron: This is stupid. Go cool off, get laid, do something, come back when you're ready to talk.
Derek Vinyard: Yeah, but it really doesn't matter if I do, does it? Because you got a whole crop already lined up, you fuckin' chicken hawk!
Cameron: Excuse me?
Derek Vinyard: You prey on people Cam. I lost three years of my life for your fuckin' phony cause, but I'm onto you now, you fuckin' snake.
Cameron: Hey, watch it Derek, be careful. Remember where you are. This isn't some fuckin' country club where you can waltz in and outta here!
Derek Vinyard: Shut up! Shut ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Beyond Clueless (2014) 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

 
The Most Dangerous Person To Us Is Ourselves
1 February 2009 | by (Queens, New York) – See all my reviews

American History X is a movie of its own. It has a little bit of everything in the way it touches you. This of course making it a very though provoking film. There isn't a genre you can place this film in because it is a not a crime story, action or even a simple drama instead it is a humanistic thriller. What it is about, is the battle over ourselves.

Who better than to display these wild but common complexities within people than Edward Norton. The range he shows here is astounding in only his fifth movie. Norton plays Derek Vinyard, a skin head that realizes through cruel yet necessary events in his life that he has gone down the wrong path. When he comes out of jail he attempts to stop his brother played Edward Furlong from going down the same road he had done. Through all his efforts though some things just prove to be inevitable. Avery Brooks also gives a great performance as Derek Vinyard's former teacher and now principal of his former school. His words may not be of the most inspiring but his actions and messages sent across are subtle yet strong and to the point.

Norton's performance though wasn't just about range but exploring different dimensions of life. Whether it proved to be psychological, social or even political on a certain level. It is a transforming performance revealing something mind blowing and eye opening. That we, and this includes anyone, can take a devastating turn in life no matter how intelligent we are or thoughtful. That the person that determines the outcome of your life is yourself whether it is good or bad. Norton's realizations aren't through teachings such as the ones that got him in jail but they are through the events in the time he spent in jail. He saw the truth for himself realizing then what is false and what is real.

The screenplay written by David McKenna is about as versatile as the performance Norton gives. Not only because of the Derek Vinyard character but because of the characters involved in his life. For example the root of his evil did not come from the murder of his father but rather his father himself. Through just a conversation at breakfast did his negative thoughts get really embedded eventually then leading to them dramatically taking over his mind and way of life. Only when his father got killed did these negative thoughts seem justified. The way this screenplay and direction was able to display this message in just a plethora of other underlying tones was spectacular.

What makes this movie great though is that you can truly find yourself in the messages delivered. As much as the main character might not seem relevant or connected to many people it his emotions and functioning of his mind that all of us are able to connect with. Yet what makes a movie great is not simply the message or messages sent across but how powerfully they are delivered. American History X delivers its multiple and intertwining messages about as powerfully as I've seen from a film.


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