A History of Violence
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

Yes, the movie is based on a graphic novel of the same name, written by John Wagner with the art drawn by Vince Locke. The movie does take a significantly different track regarding the climax, ending, and several characters.

Was Tom schizophrenic?

No, when talking to Edie she asks him if he's a schizo or something like that, he says he went out in the desert and killed Joey Cusack. But he was referring to faking his own death and assuming the identity of Tom Stall in the hopes of escaping his past.

Bobby is a coward at heart. He backs down when Jack beats him at his own name-calling game in the locker room following the baseball game. He backs down even more quickly when faced with a clearly stronger opponent (Leland and Orser) after cutting them off on the road. Bobby bullies Jack to assuage his own insecurities, because he's convinced Jack won't fight back. Once Jack does, Bobby folds quickly and cannot mount any resistance, becoming the sniveling little victim.

Not at all. Richie makes it very clear from the start that he is summoning his brother home to settle the score between them, and that he wants Joey dead as much as Fogarty did. By giving Tom/Joey a choice to either come to Philadelphia or else have Richie come out to his home, Richie was offering to spare, not Joey, but Edie and the kids. Richie knew that Tom's wife and children knew nothing about him and he could afford to let them live if Tom came to see him. If Richie had to go out to Tom's house, Edie, Jack and Sarah would be eliminated as witnesses and collateral damage. Tom/Joey clung to a thread of hope to avoid a direct showdown, but Richie shows that this is not an option. Richie's question, 'Are you gonna come see me, or do I have to come see you?' sets the stage for the inevitable confrontation between Joey and his older brother.

This is because Edie was frightened, angry and confused with Tom/Joey and the whole situation. She hates the fact that he lied to her about who he really was. However, she still loves him for the person he had become since he met her. The beginning of the film, especially the first sex scene, shows they are clearly still in love and still very attracted to each other. So while she is frightened and confused, she still lusts for Tom. Also, violence can turn some people on. And the bad boy, Joey, certainly turns her on.

Another, more symbolic interpretation could be that the sex scenes represent Tom and Joey respectively. The first scene is full of love and happiness while the second is confusing, violent, and real. The first sex scene involves roleplay and a fake reality for both Tom and Edie, and this represents their relationship as a whole - it's fun, full of love, but above all, fake. The second sex scene takes place on a staircase (hardly comfortable, as we can later deduce from Edie's bruises on her back) and is nowhere near as lovingly passionate as the first one.

The final scene uses facial expressions and body language alone, with no dialogue spoken, to pose three questions for the viewer to answer for themselves. First and most immediately obvious, is whether Edie can forgive Tom, and can the family move on and be a family again. Second, will anyone else from Joey's past come looking for him? (As Richie tells Tom/Joey, 'Boys in Boston are just waitin' for me to go down). Third and less obvious, is whether Jack will finish growing up with the same talent for violence as his father-- once pressed, he gave Bobby such a savage beating as to put him in the hospital.

The "R" version is still the only available cut of the movie in the United States while the uncensored version has been released in most other countries. If you want to own the untouched film in HD, you can grab the British Blu-ray by Entertainment in Video. Two alterations were made for the R-Rated Version and a detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

Page last updated by Cogw, 4 months ago
Top 5 Contributors: briangcb, J. Spurlin, looker1010az, Cogw, jtothap

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