American History X

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Racism and hatred NEVER brought anything good.

This would easily sum up the entire movie I’d like to recommend for this weekend. It’s an old movie (1998) and I’m sure most movie buffs have heard of it or even watched it at least once.

It’s hard to watch, shocking and still a masterpiece, the reason Edward Norton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor (which was actually won by Roberto Benigni in La Vita E BellaLife Is Beautiful, another amazing movie).

Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) is a student at a Californian high-school, who loses his father and turns skinhead. His old man was a firefighter and was killed by a black drug dealer, while in mission. As you can imagine, the young son is filled with hatred towards anyone who’s not a white Protestant.

american-history-x

After savagely murdering two black gang members who were trying to steal from his truck (left from his father), he is sentenced to three years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

As you can imagine, he’s quickly joining an Aryan group, since they all share the same ideas. After a while he becomes disillusioned with the group, who’s theoretically against anyone who’s not white, but do a lot of drug deals with the Mexican gang members. His objections fall to deaf years and his neo-nazi friends also try to teach him a ‘lesson’ by savagely beating and raping him.

An unexpected support and friendship comes from a black inmate, Lamont, whose sense of humor and kindness are almost shocking for Derek.

While trying to keep himself away from trouble in the prison, outside, Danny, his younger brother, has joined the same group as himself and is ready to repeat his older brother’s mistakes.

Dr. Bob Sweeney, his English teacher, is visiting in prison and lets him know about the dangerous road his brother is taking. The teacher, who is black, admits that, years ago, he also hated everyone who was not of his color/race and then realized this doesn’t help anyone. After being attacked by his own peers and finding more support in a black inmate, Derek changes his mind and comes to regret everything he’s done. His main concern now is Danny, who is about to make the same mistakes as he did before.

I will not spoil the movie for those who haven’t watched it, let’s just say that the end comes to show once again that hatred is never good for anything and violence can really get out of control, even when you’d like to stop it.

A great social lesson and a proof that color/religion or anything else that makes us different don’t mean a thing. At the end of the day we’re HUMANS and we should try and find a common ground.

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