You likely don’t need a lengthy explanation of what this article is actually about. The content here will serve to properly introduce you to one of the most impressive films of all of the 1990s, “American History X”. You should learn a few different things about this film to fully appreciate it as it was meant to be appreciated, and most of this prevalent information will be contained within the upcoming paragraphs.
This movie was not based on real events, as some people seem to think that it was. Though, the course that the film takes might not be all that unlike what others might have experienced in their own lives. This is a reflection about how we can be led so strongly to believe something that we later cannot believe in anymore through the introduction of circumstances beyond our control.
You are given the best look into the life of Derek Vinyard through the piece, though it is often through the narration of his younger brother Danny. Danny is still in high school and has been getting into some trouble from the teachers and staff at the school. His history teacher asks him to write a paper on his older brother, Derek and that it was due the following day.
You also learn that Derek, his immediate family and his close friends all share a extremist skinhead view on the world. That world, indicates that black people are the problem that society has to put up with and for all intents and purposes should be eradicated. This began when Derek was a small boy and watched his father gunned down by a black drug dealer. He was taken under the wing of a white supremacist that encouraged him to stand up for himself. So Derek formed his own gang of white kids that would never be afraid of blacks in their community again.
You learn that Derek is in jail, and see a visual depiction of what landed him there. Some black people were attempting to break into his car, when he was alerted of it and he raced outside, gun drawn. He began firing at them all, killing one and wounding another. One managed to escape. The fate of the wounded would mark one of the most graphic scenes ever depicted on film, which was Derek forcing the man to put his teeth onto the street curb and Derek stomping on the back of his head.
However, Derek learns rather quickly that there is no real protection or support for his beliefs in prison. Ironically, through the course of the film, Derek is paired with a black man many times and they become friends. When Derek learns from Danny’s history teacher that he is headed down the same path, Derek decides that when he gets out that he and his brother are headed far away from this mess.
At the welcome home party of his release, Derek asks his girlfriend to go away with him and Danny, she leaves upset and refusing. Derek is also forced to confront Cameron, the man responsible for Derek’s former beliefs and tell him what he now knew to be the truth. The brothers leave and Danny is able to finish his paper, which is spoken as narration through the last bits of the film.
The story ends with Danny being shot to death by a black kid in the bathroom at school. Powerful acting from Edward Norton (Derek Vinyard) and Edward Furlong (Danny Vinyard) bring this story to the screen and give it the perfect acting that such an impressive movie requires. American History X might be hard to watch at times, but it is a grand reflection on how people could be so confident in what they believe to be right.
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