Monday, January 9, 2012

American History X

So in my last post I was talking about the Anthropology behind Idiocracy and how it was such a great movie that got very little credit. It is one of those movies that I think everyone should watch. There are few movies that I believe that everyone should watch but on the top of my list is American History X.
For those of you who don't know what the movie is about I will briefly summarize it for you. The story centers around two brothers who are both involved with a Neo-Nazi gang in Venice Beach. The movie starts with the older brother Derrick getting out of jail for the murder of two black gang bangers. At the same time his brother is getting out of jail, the younger brother Danny is forced to write a paper about his brother's influence on him as a punishment.
The movie then unfolds as part of the paper that Danny is writing. It goes through how Derrick and Danny both became skin heads, what Derrick did to land himself in jail, what their family went through as they both took the plunge into the Neo-Nazi world and what they both participated in as part of this gang. This is all done through series of black and white flashbacks that goes out of order at times but then it all becomes clear at the end why some scenes were shown before others.
Throughout this movie the viewer gets thrusted into the world of the Neo-Nazi skinhead gangs and at times it is hard to watch some of the events that unfold. It goes into the reason behind these kids and their need to be in this type of gang. It delves into the mind of the skinheads (especially Danny and Derrick) and shows just how skewed their ideas really are.
The whole movie is really driven by both Edward Norton as Derrick and Edward Furlong as Danny. Both of these actors are phenomenal and my favorite scenes are the ones where Derrick goes on these long rants about how he views society. Edward Norton is so beyond amazing in this role and did such a great job at embodying the role of Derrick.
Now this movie is not for those who are overly sensitive. There is A LOT of cursing, racial slurs, nudity and gory scenes that are at time hard to watch but all of it serves the purpose of showing just how horrible this subculture really is. When I first saw this movie (when I was 12 and probably should not have been watching it) I was fascinated by the skinhead world. It was so hard for me to comprehend that these people had SO much hate for people that were merrily different than them. After watching this movie I started doing more research about the Neo-Nazi skinhead movement and was both incredibly interested and disgusted with what I found.
Of course I have to bring up the anthropology in this movie which is all throughout this movie. The most poignant probably is the idea of influence that people/places/events can have over a person's outlook on life. Danny's attachment to his brother and the bond that they share is very important to this movie and how both of these characters change through the movie and their lives. Once again this is a testament to the amazing actors of both Norton and Furlong and to the amazing writing by David McKenna.
In addition the cinematography on this movie is also amazing. The mix of low angle, high angle, extreme close ups and slow motion shots make the viewer feel like they are on this journey with the characters. The lighting is also great in this movie especially the use of shadows in both the scenes in the jail and in the home.
This movie was nominated for all kinds of awards when it came out back in 1998 including an Oscar for Edward Norton for Best Actor. In my opinion Norton should have won that Oscar that year but of course I guess I am biased since Norton is one of my all time favorite actors. This movie is definitely on my top movie and I think everyone should see it at some point in their life.


Unknown said...

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