Sunday, 23 October 2011

American History X

This is the first film I have watched so far that would make it easily into my own Top 10 all time greatest movies, and in a way I am slightly surprised that it only made it to 38 in the IMDB list.

I often get asked by kids at school why people got taken in by the Nazi's. Why normal every day people didn't do anything to stop the persecution of Jews, or sometimes even got involved in it. I get asked why people were so racist towards black people in America pre-1960s. Or even simply why there is so much hate in the world today.

This film encapsulates how easy it is to follow, and how easy it is to follow hatred. When things go wrong in your world it is easy to look outwards for someone to blame, someone who can take that burden from you. Within the film the death of Derek's father, sees him disappear into a web of violence, hate and destruction. Perhaps what is more worrying is the ease in which his brother follows him into that world - without ever really stopping to think about what he is doing.

Ed Norton is one of my all time favourite actors and in this movie he is outstanding. In fact all of the actors here are brilliant. Elliot Gould's portrayal of one of the teachers is mesmerising, particularly his silent shock and lack of action with Norton's attack on his family - perhaps one of the clearest explanations of why little action is taken against a mob. I am also entranced by the performance of one of the black gang members at Danny's school, who (without spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it) gives a single look to the camera in one of the final scenes in the film that shows all the futility of hate, yet at the same time the lack of choice that many gang members feel.

All in all this is a brilliant movie.

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