Metal Mummy's Movie Meme

Metal Mummy’s Movie Meme – Week 2

When I saw that Metal Mummy had chosen the theme ‘Black and White’, I knew exactly which film to write about. The film I have chosen fits in with the theme perfectly, because as well as using black and white scenes to illustrate flashbacks in the story, it has a strong theme of racism. Yes readers, the film I have chosen is:

American History X

The first time I saw this film, I was about 15, and I hated it. I was going through a particularly self-righteous period of my life, and whilst I still abhor anything to do with intolerance of another because of their race/sexuality/disabilities/choices, at the time I was rather more vocal about my feelings, and stopped watching the film halfway through, not being able to get past what I saw as a racist message permeating through the plot.

If I had watched the film all the way through, with a bit more understanding and maturity, I would have understood that this film actually gives a strong anti-racism message, which, whilst being central to the plot, is given in a thoughtful and measured way. It also helps that Edward Norton is one of the finest actors of our time and gives, what I think, was the strongest performance of his entire career.

The story centres around Danny Vinyard (Edward Furlong) a mal-adjusted teenager, whose brother Derek (Edward Norton)  is about to be released from prison for murder. As the story goes along, we find out that Danny and Derek’s father had been killed whilst performing his job as a firefighter, attempting to put out a fire in a Compton drug den, leaving Derek extremely disillusioned and vulnerable. It’s at this point that he’s sucked in by Cam, a Neo-Nazi who prays on disenfranchised young men and women, and poisons their minds with racist propaganda.

I won’t give you the whole story line, but between stellar performances from Norton, Furlong, Elliot Gould and a young Ethan Suplee, to the incredible cinematography and the direction from Tony Kaye (although he tried to have his name removed from the credits as he did not approve of the final cut of he film), American History X is one of the most powerful and evocative films I’ve seen, and the use of black and white adds immeasurably to the whole feel of the film.

Don’t watch if you’re of faint-heart or delicate constitution, but if you aren’t, you must see this movie. It will change the way you think about things. And isn’t that what films are supposed to be for? To challenge our perceptions and make us think? I think so, anyway.

18 thoughts on “Metal Mummy’s Movie Meme – Week 2

  1. Love this film. Brutally brilliant. There is so much which is wrong with America and this film exposes a part of that.

  2. I’m loving this week’s theme (must tell Metal Mummy that, but currently having so much trouble choosing from all my favourite b&w movies I’m touring everyone else’s blogs to see what they picked ;))

    I’ve never seen this movie but will definitely check it out – I’ve been watching quite a few ‘hard to watch but need to watch’ movies for my February Month of Movies so this looks something worth seeing (although I’ve got some lighter stuff lined up first).

    Thanks for blogging about this film!

    1. Trust me, it’s so worth it. To be honest, I don’t find the violence all that shocking, it’s no worse than a heck of a lot of other films I’ve seen. More shocking, for me, is the racism and the fact that they believe their own propaganda…and that there are still skinhead and neo-nazi groups out there. It’s the fact that it’s not so far from reality that scares me the most.

  3. OMG I didn’t even think of this film and it’s in my list of brilliant films (and in my DVD collection). I kind of forgot about it with it not being an old movie. It’s a superb film! Bravo on your excellent choice *salutes*

  4. I think you interpreted this weeks theme fantastically.

    When I was writing the theme, I did think that people could write about a racism film, I just didn’t want to sway anyone.

    I think you chose a fantastic film. So so raw with such a huge message.

    Brilliant choice x

      1. Nah, I’m ridiculously impressed with your choice!

        Like I said in the brief, it was completely open to interpretation. You didn’t have to stick to an old film.

        And you did exactly what I was hoping someone would do 😀

  5. Oh, not seen that one but I probably won’t now, I am of a delicate nature and constitution! Thanks for the warning. I didn’t realise the new one was up, what to choose? Hmm.

    1. It’s weird you know, although there’s some fairly graphic violence, I don’t actually remember seeing much blood at all….and they do pull the camera away when he stamps on his head. Also, I am SUPER squeamish about blood, but in this film, because it’s all in black and white when the violent bits happen, he blood doesn’t look like blood, it just looks black, and it makes it a lot easier to see.

    1. Well there’s plenty of old films that I love that are black and white but I thought I’d go for something a bit left of centre, to add something a bit diverse and hope it introduces other MMMMers to something new!

  6. I agree, it’s tough to watch, but makes a big point, I think. Derek chooses not to shoot him, although he has a gun in his hand, he chooses to stamp on him, which is a far more violent and visceral way to hurt him. I think it really illustrates just what an angry person Derek is at that point in his life.

  7. It’s an amazing film so well acted and uncomfortable to watch at times. The worst part of the film, one which I cannot watch, is when Edward Norton’s character makes that man open his mouth on the package and then steps on him! Omg it’s just too severe to stomach.

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