American History X is a 1998 American drama film directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. The movie is about a man named Derek Vinyard, an infamous skinhead who is later glorified by his younger brother, Danny. In the beginning of the movie, Danny writes a paper for an assignment in his school, and titles it My Mein Kampf. He is sent to the principal’s office and the principal, Dr. Bob Sweeney, reschedules his history class and makes him take a class under his own instruction, called American History X, in an effort to show Danny that society is meant to be peaceful and not dominated. Throughout the movie, flashback scenes are shown in black and white, and depict Derek and Danny’s life before Derek went to prison. I think it was a good idea to make the flashback scenes black and white because it sets a dramatic mood while depicting the life of Derek and Danny when they were living together. One of the very first flashback scenes show how Derek first came to a racist way of thought by his father’s encouragement. Before Derek was sent to prison, Danny hated Derek and his way of life. When Derek became a skinhead, his mood and appearance changed along with the way that he treated his family. Derek is sent to prison because of a double homicide which he committed just outside of his home. The movie shows Derek’s dehumanizing experience in prison, and his bonding with a black man and how it rehabilitated him to become an accepting person. After Derek comes home from prison two years later, he comes upon the awful realization that Danny is going down the same path as he did. He comes home only to see that Danny is friends with Derek’s former friends, and has a completely different personality and outlook on his future than before he went to prison. The movie focuses heavily on Derek’s relationship with Danny, and how he tries to make Danny see why being a skinhead is wrong. Edward Norton and Edward Furlong display an incredibly convincing relationship as two brothers, one struggling with his future and the other struggling with his past while trying to set a better example as a person than he did before.
Probably the most beautiful scene in the movie is a scene showing Derek and Danny as children running along a beach shore, happily chasing birds across the beach. This is such a great scene because it emphasizes a main theme and symbol of the movie, which is equality.