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American History X

  • 12-10-2020 2:59pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    I saw this appear on netflix recently and it took me back to my school days. I'd say I had seen this before starting college and remember loving it, but wondered if it would be an amazing film to a 16 year old but not terribly interesting to a 34 year old. Turns out it holds up Betty well.

    As regards relevance, if anything it's more relevant now than ever. It's obviously showing a fairly extreme side to racism, but also showing the roots of it in less extreme racism with the father. An influential figure like that combined with the tragedy makes it very understandable how Derek and Danny end up in that crowd.

    Something which you can't help is wondering how it would go down if it was released now. I suspect, it would face huge opposition. For several reasons;

    Derek's change in prison is largely because the other neo nazis in there lacked conviction in their beliefs. If they had been equally unyielding in their views, I'm not sure he'd have left them. So it wasn't so much that he realised his views were wrong, it was that he realised the people he was associating with were phonies.

    Also, the points the likes of the father or Derek make aren't really proven wrong. You can feel that they're wrong and they might use a racist slur at the end of the point they make which kind of confirms them as prejudiced as opposed to having a purely measured view on something. But, I wouldn't say that their racist views are challenged throughout the film and taken down. Which i think is a strength of the film. If you have a dominant individual like the father or Derek, often their opinions go largely unchallenged because people don't like arguing with them. I think it was very true to life.

    I also wonder how the portrayal of the guy who kills Danny at the end would go down. For all the context that we're shown for Danny and Derek, we don't see that for the black kid. He kind of is an example of the bad black men that the neo nazis hated. And as I say, we basically get no context for him being like that. But that said, I don't find this a problem. The film isn't about him. It shows us that there's more to the neo nazis than we see on the surface. And if you can see that you should be able to understand that there always is, even if you haven't been shown it.

    What I thought was really positive in the film too was that it portrayed the father, Danny and Derek as people capable of understanding and reason. Essentially nice people, even though the kids did terrible things. I don't think it's helpful to think of these groups as cartoon baddies and all the same. They're diverse, some intelligent, some not and maybe outside of that side of their character, maybe they're good with their nieces and nephews or whatever. Basically, it humanised them.

    As you can guess, I really enjoyed rewatching it. It was actually a refreshing film to watch and I absolutely think one that would do people a lot of good to look at right now.


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,587 ✭✭✭✭ 2smiggy


    I'd have preferred if they went with the ending where Derek shaved his head again at the end of the film


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    2smiggy wrote: »
    I'd have preferred if they went with the ending where Derek shaved his head again at the end of the film

    Oooooh, that sounds better actually!


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,497 ✭✭✭ SK1979


    Ye wasn't there controversy over this originally. I'm sure I remember reading that Norton essentially edited the film and the director disowned it?

    Was definitely one of my favorite movies at the time. Must give it another watch though to see how well it holds up.


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,587 ✭✭✭✭ 2smiggy


    ya I think they thought it would have been too extreme for Derek to return to his old ways, thou I think it would have been a far better ending. Have not seen it in a good few years, might throw it on this evening


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,134 ✭✭✭ blue note


    SK1979 wrote: »
    Ye wasn't there controversy over this originally. I'm sure I remember reading that Norton essentially edited the film and the director disowned it?

    Was definitely one of my favorite movies at the time. Must give it another watch though to see how well it holds up.

    The controversy I'd heard about before in relation to the film was about Norton and the director being difficult. I think now there would be controversy over how it deals with it's themes. And as a result would probably do better at the box office!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,253 ✭✭✭✭ branie2


    I saw it in college years ago; I thought it was very good


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,231 ✭✭✭ S.M.B.


    Definitely one from the "1999, the year that sh*t got serious when it comes to movies" collection. Not one I'm rushing back to rewatching though as I'd imagine I'd not be as fond of it today, not necessarily because of its handling of the subject matter.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,743 ✭✭✭ Heres Johnny


    Excellent film, now and then.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Regional South East Moderators Posts: 9,081 Mod ✭✭✭✭ ziedth


    It's genuinely an excellent film and the deleted scenes are fascinating...... The Nazi Friend (I want to say Seth) is a truly despicable character in the released cut but there is a deleted scene where the leader of the Nazi's is trying to get him to kill Edward Norton and he said he won't do it point blank out of loyalty or whatever and when the leader guy asks him to take a more forward role he says something to the effect of "I have been writing a musical that we could use"..... Basically showing underneath it all he is an idiot..... it isn't the way they should have taken it IMO but I can see why with that one example there was such a row over the final cut.

    Moving onto the ending..... I have even said it on boards before but it never sat well with me..... The film all but shows a "hey we were right all along" ending..... remember Danny's character doesn't do anything racist in the whole film (A Little Monologue not with withstanding) and only stands up for a guy getting bullied which leads him to get shot..... he was basically a misguided kid......

    I must give it a rewatch actually


  • Registered Users Posts: 16,667 ✭✭✭✭ Tony EH


    2smiggy wrote: »
    I'd have preferred if they went with the ending where Derek shaved his head again at the end of the film

    Not too sure that was ever on the cards. It would have been stupid and completely erased Derek's whole character arc in the movie just for a cheap shock.

    The way it ends in the theatrical version is far more powerful.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,667 ✭✭✭✭ Tony EH


    blue note wrote: »
    The controversy I'd heard about before in relation to the film was about Norton and the director being difficult.

    I think the director, Tony Kaye, was a bit spazzy about his "vision" at the time. Later interviews with Kaye kinda shows him as a little...um...OTT. However, I'm not so sure that the film would have ended up that much different at the end of the day in any case. A new scene here or there, or a few trims but not a radically different story that altered David McKenna's script.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,055 ✭✭✭ MfMan


    Love the beach scene, a paean to lost childhood innocence.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbJfP1fsBfM


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