Tony Kaye
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

, /10

Tony Kaye

American History X (1998) Is a powerful movie on racial tensions in America.

In the middle of the night, Danny, a white teenager, is kept awake by his brother Derek (a skinhead who has a nazi swastika tattooed on his chest) making love to his punkette girlfriend. Danny hears someone break into Derek's car and calls Derek. Derek grabs a gun, walks outside, and kills two of them. While Derek is in jail, his younger brother Danny becomes fascinated with Hitler. It turns out Derek is the leader of the local suprematists. At school, the (black) principal, Sweeney, is determined to save Danny from his brother's bad influence.
A flashback shows how their father was killed by a black gangster, and Danny blamed all minorities for the murder. Danny became the charismatic leader of the neighborhood after he challenged the blacks to a basketball game and beat them: the prize was the basketball court, so the blacks left. Derek is released from jail (after three years) and comes back home. Their mother is getting sicker by the day, their sister Davina is worried about Danny. Derek hears from Sweeney that Danny is falling under the influence of the suprematist Cameron. Derek is actually much more reasonable and doesn't like it at all.
A black and white flashback shows that, before prison, Derek was working for Cameron: they attacked a Korean shop, beat the owner and vandalize the place And how Derek abused his own mother and sister, and insulted the Jewish teacher who was trying to date his mother. His mother asked Derek to move out. That very night the blacks tried to steal his truck and he killed them (the flashback shows the brutal slaying of the second one, with Danny trying in vain to stop Derek)..
Back to the present (color), Danny is working on the paper that Sweeney assigned him: it is the movie told in the black and white flashbacks. Derek tells his girlfriend he wants to leave town. His girlfriend tells him that he is a hero for killing those blacks, but Derek doesn't want to have any part in it.. But she tells him that they got organized and doesn't understand how he may want to leave now that his actions galvanized the community (including his own brother). Derek simply dumps her and then confronts the very guru, Cameron. Derek beats Cameron and threatens to kill him if he continues brainwashing his brother. But everything turns against him: his girlfriend even ask them to kill him, his brother Danny attacks him.
A black and white flashback shows what happened to Derek in jail that changed his mind. He socialized with the black convict who worked with him at the prison's laundry and began to realize how unfair society is to black people. He was then sodomized by the whites (under the eyes of a white guard) who did not appreciate his friendship with a black man. He got help only from the principal, Sweeney, a black man, and from his coworker, another black man.
Back to the present (color), Derek is telling Danny all of this. Derek is heartbroken that his family lives in such poor conditions after the death of their father and his own imprisonment. But now the family seems to have found a new harmony.
Another flashback shows what happened before their father was killed. It was their father who started the racial thing. (All the flashbacks are told through Danny's homework).
Back to the present (color), Derek is asked by Sweeney and the police chief to help defeat the suprematists for good. Derek takes Danny to school and leaves. Danny walks into the restrooms and is shot dead by a black kid that he offended days before. Derek runs back only to hold his dead brother's head in his arms. The dead Danny continues talking to the audience and draws his conclusion: that hate is baggage. That is the end of his homework.
(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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