Movie: American History X (1998)

It’s a story of two American brothers who are sucked into the Neo-Nazi ideology and go on about cleaning their neighbourhood from social problems created by blacks and immigrants, or so they believed. The elder brother is gaoled for manslaughter where he learns his lessons and comes out as a changed man. His younger brother follows him into Neo-Nazi activities to his dismay.

The film weaves a complex and nuanced narrative in the first half, such as showing the human side of seemingly hateful Neo-Nazis who believe in spilling blood of everyone who is different from them and also informing us of the socioeconomic reasons that might lead intelligent and ordinary people down that path.

However, the narrative falls short of pulling things together later on. The sudden change in protagonist’s beliefs was rather simplistic and the ending put everything in disarray. The younger brother is killed in school by a black youth due to a previous grievance.

Derek’s (Edward Norton) change of heart itself wouldn’t appear far fetched if it was better incorporated into his subsequent actions apart from impulsively punching his mentor. I think this twist in the tale could have been utilised better in the narrative. It could have led to a better ending too.

“Has anything you’ve done made your life better?” is arguably the film’s punchline. Edward Norton has been excellent. Good film to watch. My rating 4/5. IMDb Link


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