Wednesday, July 9, 2014

American History X

Film & Disc Review, American History X
by Rusty White
reviewed: 1999-04-06

Director(s): Tony Kaye
Movie rating: 10/10
DVD rating: 7/10
DVD Release Date: 04/06/1999
Running Time: 119 minutes
Rating: R

Disc Details

New Line Studios

List Price: $24.98

Running Time: 119 minutes

Special Features:
Widescreen anamorphic format.
Chapter selection.
Theatrical trailer.
Production notes.
3 deleted scenes.
11 cast and crew bios.

Video Format:
Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)

Language Tracks:
English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)


Closed Captions:

1-disc Keep Case

A powerful tale of bigotry, hate-mongering and redemption. Brutally honest with its subject matter. As Derick Vineyard, Edward Norton delivers a chilling portrait of a young skinhead whose eyes are opened after a stint in prison for killing two black men who tried to steal his truck. Edward Furlong is Danny, Derick's younger brother who idolizes him. Derick must try to show Danny that his path was wrong before Danny makes the same mistakes.

Tony Kaye directs David McKenna's script with unflinching realism. The film is in color and black and white. The present day scenes are in color. The past is black and white. This choice is far from gimmicky. The movie is beautifully filmed in stark realistic tones which suit the subject perfectly.

The actors do wonders with McKenna's brilliant script. Edward Norton was deservedly nominated for an Oscar. Edward Furlong is also quite good in a more subtle role. Stacy Keach is chilling as the leader of the Nazi cell. Fairuza Balk plays Norton's sexy young Hate Ho. She nails the part. You would swear she just stepped of the stage of a Jerry Springer show. Stop her before she breeds more Nazi rats. Avery Brooks (TV's Spencer for Hire) is another standout in an all-around excellent cast.

The real life counter-parts of these Nazi skinheads claim to worship God. Maybe they need to read more of his word and less of "The Turner Diaries." As a white male I can say they don't speak for me.

The Disc
Modern classic film. Excellent picture and sound. Good extras. Very close to being a perfect DVD.

Picture Quality: 10/10
Excellent use of black and white photography. The transfer to digital was impeccable. Great range of grays and shadows. The color photography was also excellent, but paled in comparison with the black and white. All around, and excellent picture. Stark and brutal, like the movie itself.

Sound Quality: 10/10
No loss of dialogue. Great soundtrack. The violence, especially the second killing committed by Derick, reverberates through the speakers and into you psyche. No noticeable distortion.

Easter Eggs:
No Easter Eggs Found on Disc.

Extra Features: 8/10
Very cool chapter selection menu. Easy to navigate. Good use of images and sounds from the film.

The trailer and production notes are good. The cast and crew bios and filmographies are quite detailed.

There are three deleted scenes. One is about 5 minutes long, and is referred to in later dialogue that remains in the film. I'm not sure why it was cut.

I really wish there had been a commentary track with this one. Some films are so important and powerful that they need to documented for future generations. This is one of them. The reason there is no director's commentary is because first time director Tony Kaye waged war against this movie. He was denied a director's cut and he opposed the casting of Edward Norton in the lead role. Mr. Kaye went so far as to petition the director's guild for an "Alan Smithee" credit, but was denied because he refused to stop bad-mouthing the film. I find this amazing considering the power of the film and the fact that Mr. Kaye was also the camera operater.

The Final Word:

A must have DVD. This movie should be shown in high schools all over this land. Hitler is dead. Let's keep it that way.

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