Director: Tony Kaye
Running time: 119 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 26th March 1999
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 12th June 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have to admit that I have seen this film before, but I maybe didn’t appreciate it as much before as I did this time around. Everything about it is great, the plot, the dialogue, the performances, the cinematography and the music are all excellent. It maybe wouldn’t have been top of my list of films to see due to the subject matter, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. Yes, it does tend to wander a little in the middle and the pacing isn’t at top whack, but it is quite compelling viewing all the same.
Derek Vinyard was a neo-Nazi when he went into prison for the murder of two thieves at his house. He was the top dog amongst the guys he ran with, all with shaven heads and believing every word of their leader. Words fed to him by the manipulative Cameron Alexander. But something changed in Derek while he was inside, he came out wanting nothing to do with these people any more. He is in fear that his little brother, Danny will follow him down the same route. We are told, in flashback, how Derek became involved with these people in the first place and what went on in prison to change his view. The trouble is, is it too late for young Danny? As you’ve probably already guessed, the Spoiler Police won’t allow me to say any more.
I have to say hats off to both Edward Norton as Derek and Edward Furlong as Danny. I have not seen either of them put in a better performance either before or since. Also worthy of note are; Beverly D'Angelo as their mother, Doris, Avery Brooks as the head teacher, Dr. Bob Sweeney, Jennifer Lien as their sister, Davina, Stacy Keach as the evil Cameron Alexander and it was also nice to see Elliott Gould as Murray, the English teacher.
A large portion of the film is told in flashback and all of the flashback portions are in black and white, making it very easy for the audience to discern where the story is. I found this enhanced rather than distracted me from the narrative. There is much to admire in this film and I enjoyed it immensely. So, over all a really well made film with some great performances, a great score, a great script and some great cinematography… Recommended.
My Score: 8.7/10
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0120586/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/american_history_x/
Official Site: http://www.newline.com/properties/americanhistoryx.html