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He lacks Derek’s intelligence and talent for rabble-rousing rhetoric but shares his xenophobia and racist notions. Derek befriends a black inmate, during his three year sentence, and is transformed into a new man, one that decides to free himself from his former life and find a new direction for his brother. Highlighting the theme of racism, depicting brutal violence and adopting impressive cinematography, critics such as Maslin from The New York Times, Roger from and Mccarthy from variety, despite their divergent reactions, agree on the one notion; that American History X is an absolute unique portrayal of racism, in the way it portrays the concept from a white man’s point of view.
The use of violence that is consistently represented by American History X, from the simply decorated Derek’s room, with its pictures of Nazi’s and paraphernalia, to the series of ever-escalating physical violence that the movie is inculcated in. Mccarthy outlines this dominant depiction of the storyline with the use of raw brutality, that can be accurately summed up in three scenes from the movie; The raid that Derek leads on the raid that takes place on the Korean-owned grocery stores; the verbal as well as physical attack on his mother, while kicking her Jewish boyfriend, Elliott Gould. And lastly the bone chilling horror displayed in the scene in which Derek finishes off the black kid, who had simply been wounded.
Maslin’s response to the violence depicted which he observes Derek commits “with horrifying gusto”. His take suggests the raw virility of Derek’s character is such that milks a certain kind of violent furiously and heats things up simply by viewing Derek in a sexual tryst right before the violence initiates. However the focus of the film overflows with the ‘tacitly homoerotic violent energy’ of the skinhead bullies. Roger, on the other hand focuses on the hostile tribalism being an ...Show more
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The central focus of American History X is that on the journey of two brothers from Los Angeles who become an active part of a neo-Nazi skinhead gang. It goes to show how the older brother Derek, played by Edward Norton, becomes the leader of the skinhead pack by shadowing an…
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