8.5/10
1,017,132
1,595 user 174 critic

American History X (1998)

R | | Drama | 20 November 1998 (USA)
Trailer
2:25 | Trailer
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

Director:

Tony Kaye

Writer:

David McKenna
Popularity
484 ( 16)
Top Rated Movies #39 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Norton ... Derek Vinyard
Edward Furlong ... Danny Vinyard
Beverly D'Angelo ... Doris Vinyard
Jennifer Lien ... Davina Vinyard
Ethan Suplee ... Seth Ryan
Fairuza Balk ... Stacey
Avery Brooks ... Dr. Bob Sweeney
Elliott Gould ... Murray
Stacy Keach ... Cameron Alexander
William Russ ... Dennis Vinyard
Guy Torry ... Lamont
Joe Cortese ... Rasmussen
Jason Bose Smith Jason Bose Smith ... Little Henry (as Jason Bose-Smith)
Antonio David Lyons ... Lawrence
Alex Sol ... Mitch McCormick
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Storyline

Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for brutally killing two black men who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother's, Danny Vineyard, 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:

neo nazi | prison | hatred | racism | jail | See All (322) »

Taglines:

United by hate, divided by truth. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the midst of the dispute about the time he was taking to edit the film, director Tony Kaye attended a meeting with Michael De Luca (then New Line's senior product president). Kaye arranged for a Jewish Rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Buddhist monk to be present at the meeting to support his argument and "make the meeting a more spiritual one". See more »

Goofs

When the police officer is pulling Derek off the ground after the shooting, he has his right arm over Derek's chest. In the next shot, he has his left arm, and then in the next shot his right arm again. (This is the second flashback to this incident, occurring about 1 hour into the film.) See more »

Quotes

Derek Vinyard: We're so hung up on this notion that we have some obligation to help the struggling black man, you know. Cut him some slack until he can overcome these historical injustices. It's crap. I mean, Christ, Lincoln freed the slaves, like, what? 130 years ago. How long does it take to get your act together?
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Alternate Versions

The TV version aired in the USA on the WGN Superstation on January 26th, 2004 had the curb stomp and shower scenes slightly cut. See more »

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Brutal Movie Beatings (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
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User Reviews

 
The Most Dangerous Person To Us Is Ourselves
1 February 2009 | by alexkolokotronisSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 November 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American History X See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$156,076, 1 November 1998

Gross USA:

$6,719,864

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$23,875,127
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (workprint)

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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