American History X Analysis and Film Techniques

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    • American History X Analysis and Film Techniques

      American History X: Techniques and Structure Make a Movie About More Than Just Racism
      American History X, directed by Tony Kaye, follows two brothers, Danny (Edward Furlong) and Derek (Edward Norton) Vinyard who, after their father was murdered by a black man, both become neo-Nazis. Derek ends up going to prison for voluntary manslaughter, where he discovers that all of the racism and hate is all nonsense, while his little brother Danny is on the outside getting deeper into the neo-Nazi movement. Once Derek is released from prison, he then tries to impose the lessons he learned in prison on his little brother, in the hopes that Danny won’t make the same mistakes he did. The theme of the movie is that we are all a product of our environment and the people we associate with and look up to. Director, Tony Kaye, has gone on record as to saying he wants his name stricken from the credits of the film, because the final product was not his vision for the film. In the end, the studio gave the final edit to Edward Norton and editor Jerry Greenbert. For that reason, I have to say that Kaye, Norton, and Greenbert brilliantly use techniques such as, slow motion, flashback, backstory, round characters, and diegetic sounds to thoroughly tell the entire story of these two brothers, help setup the tragic ending of the movie, and to make statements on certain portions of the film.