Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 


Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is one of the most fervent members of the Venice Beach White Supremacist movement, the disciple of Cameron (Stacy Keach). Derek's followers include his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), who worships him; his girlfriend, Stacey (Fairuza Balk), who thoughtlessly parrots his words; and Seth (Ethan Suplee), who finds strength in a group. Derek's mother, Doris (Beverly D'Angelo), and sister, Davin (Jennifer Lien), are frightened of and for Derek. One fateful night, Derek uses deadly force to stop a pair of black youths from stealing his car. He ends up in prison for three years, and, while on the inside, learns some hard truths about life from a fellow inmate (Guy Torry) and from the principal of his old high school (Avery Brooks), who takes a special interest in him. But when Derek emerges with a desire to change attitudes, he finds that words are not enough.

"Other than three deleted scenes, the DVD of American History X has scant extras, beyond the standard scene selection facility, cast biographies and the trailer. Although this is a pity, since this outstanding film deserves a serious discussion with the filmmakers, it can also be argued that it stands on its own. That it speaks for itself. Which it does.

The subject is racism, and how hatred is fuelled by hatred, achieving nothing, taking its carriers to emptiness. The impact of this film as seen on the big screen is not diminished on DVD; the transfer is excellent and the intimacy of home viewing compensates for the loss of large screen dynamics.

Edward Norton the John Cusack look-alike was rightly nominated for an Academy Award for this performance as the tough, racist, neo-Nazi who is transformed after a stretch in prison. Some say the stretch is in the script, expecting us to believe a man could change so dramatically.

Here is a chance to examine the film in detail study the script, study the characters. Or just play it and let the drama engross you. Edward Furlong, Stacy Keach and the whole cast is superb."
Andrew L. Urban


We gratefully acknowledge the complimentary use of a DVD player from Philips.


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CAST: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Fairuza Balk, Stacy Keach, Elliott Gould, Avery Brooks, Beverly D'Angelo


RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

DVD Distributor: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD Release: August 14, 2000

RRP: $34.95

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