Movie Review Sample: American History X

American History X

Various critics have charged the movie ‘’American History X’’ with morally alarming cinematic seductions. This was owed to the editing, sound, and use of stylish cinematography. The movie which was directed by Tony Kaye in 1998, hypnotizes the viewer through a hate-filled and immoral neo-Nazi protagonist. Furthermore, there is the disturbing fact that it seems to accomplish this manipulation through methods commonly grouped under the “fascist aesthetics” category. This paper seeks to defend the film by refuting the above charges and supporting the fact that it is a moral and powerful work of art. The use of seductive techniques draws the viewers to sympathize with the protagonist, which is crucial in making the character’s conversion plausible and ultimately compelling. The paper will argue that the manner in which his conversion is presented is indeed subtle than most critics would allow. The transformation that Derek goes through is not implausible or artificial, but results from a combined series of emotionally powerful engagements and life events.

Derek Vineyard is released on parole after serving three years in prison for having killed two thugs that had attempted to steal his truck. A minor who had killed his father in the line of duty altered his perception of mankind, prompting him to be the leader of a violent group. His group had the reputation of committing racial crime in the entire city of Los Angeles. However, while still under incarceration, he learns that both good and evil are present in every race. After his release, Derek detaches himself from the gang and tries to avert his brother Danny from treading along the same path that he did. Unfortunately, it turned out very difficult for him because he was trapped in hatred and racism that landed him in prison.

This film skillfully utilizes various techniques to present the immoral protagonist quite attractively. Tony Kaye’s ability to craft hip and stylish use of commercials to full effect as the film begins is clearly evident. The black-and-white flashback sequence showcasing Derek’s response to an attempted car theft is quite striking ( For most viewers, this is an understandably troubling aspect of the film ( After all, they learn almost immediately that Derek Vineyard is a hate-filled skinhead, who is not above brutal murder in response to petty crime on the part of those he considers inferior. Perhaps making matters worse, the techniques and imagery employed to glamorize this neo-Nazi recollect what is referred to as “fascist aesthetics.” There is no doubt that the presentation of Derek is deliberate to the audience as embodying exceptional willpower and something close to an ideal of physical perfection. He is repeatedly framed by the camera in a manner that really does resemble shots of models posing. This in itself, however, does not distinguish his presentation from that of countless superheroes in numerous cinematic comic-book adaptations (

It also grants the possibility for hypocrisy in artwork while rejecting the charge as directed at AHX. Though the film targets racist neo-Nazi extremism, it clearly offers a romantic and heroic depiction of its racist protagonist. However, what is being romanticized is primarily Derek Vineyard’s character, not the racist ideology that he embraces but eventually rejects…

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