• Release Date: Oct 30, 1998
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 333 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 12 out of 333

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  1. Nov 23, 2010
    10
    One of the greatest movies I've ever seen, with an amazing, captivating performance by Edward Norton. This film sheds light on issues that many people in society are afraid to discuss or take seriously. A beautifully composed film, a must see.
  2. Dec 3, 2012
    9
    If I had to describe this movie with a word limit this is what I would say:"A must watch classic".Unexpected turn of events more than once & Edward Norton makes it even better as he shows his true talent from the beginning.Mixed feelings and a variety of thoughts are brought up by the performances.Definitely 9/10.
  3. Aug 25, 2011
    3
    What we have here is a message picture determined to undo itself, with simple ideas (see: I think racism is a tad more complicated than Norton and his black friend) needlessly histrionic dialogue (see: interactions with family), and manipulating moments of over-drama with the force of a chainsaw rising out of a volcano (see: every scene in which racial atrocities are committed, which are all in black and white, slow-motion and have a choir singing the music of hell in the foreground). Expand
  4. Jan 11, 2011
    10
    I've lost track of how many times I've seen this, but it still makes me tear up in the end, Norton really proves himself to be a powerhouse actor, his passion and raw emotion could scare anyone. One of better movies of 98
  5. Apr 24, 2011
    10
    One of the most powerful films anyone should and must watch. Edward Norton excels all boundaries of acting In American History X. For a moment it just feels too real and you forget he's acting. He lands a remarkable, touching, and true character, struggling to fight for the errors committed in the past.
  6. Oct 3, 2011
    9
    I was introduced to this film in a philosophy class. Undoubtedly one of the best films I've seen in moral issues. I recommend this movie to anyone who has not already seen, in fact, I recommend this movie to human and personal instruction. The film is already being shown in schools, which I think is a fantastic instructional level, but even an adult who still have not seen it have something to learn. In my class there were some tough guys, and even after seeing the film they reflected on the evil they had done until that day. Expand
  7. Aug 27, 2012
    9
    Very rough and intense but fantastically acted and written! Music is also awesome and so is the whole movie. Absolutely great with a tragical story but so is life. A masterpiece!
  8. Aug 16, 2013
    10
    One of the greatest movies of all time. This film is able to look true, real-life evil in the face and humanize it. There are people that actually live their lives like the neo-nazis in this film, and American History X absolutely does not sugarcoat it. It shows the true colors of some of those people in our world, yet it doesn't bash them. It shows their intentions, shows us why they do what they do, and while we don't agree at all with it, we understand. Edward Norton gives the performance of a lifetime in what is a film that everyone should watch before they die. Expand
  9. Jan 25, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I love this movie. This has to be one of the best films created to date. Edward Norton does an excellent job playing his role as a white supremacist, when placed in prison, learns how all races truly are. It is an eye opening film, that keeps the watcher entertained the whole way through. I enjoyed how it transitioned from color to black and white, to show the difference between past and present. Highly recommended film for anyone. Expand
  10. May 24, 2014
    9
    A fantastic movie. This movie is tough to get through in the sense that there were many brutal violent or rape scenes that were really disturbing, but they were really well shot. The acting by Norton was phenomenal and the best performance of his career. I didn't think I was going to like this movie as much as I did but it was great. I love the style of the movie on how it was shot with some scenes being black and white and the rest in colour a great job. Expand
  11. Oct 31, 2010
    10
    A shocking portrayal of the effects of hate and racism, this film is an absolute must-see. Not only is it a monolith of its genre, the message it conveys should be heard by all. Edward Norton never ceases to amaze when it come to sheer talent.
  12. Nov 26, 2011
    8
    Its an amazing film. Solid acting by the cast and Edward Norton is amazing in it. The only downside of the film is that its rather graphic and can be off putting a bit.
  13. Jan 7, 2011
    6
    It's not an impressing movie. It is nothing great or big in it. It is not any light or teaching as the movie is expecting to give. The Norton is a good actor. The american life style and habit is not something to great to see. And this movie is pretty much about it.
  14. Aug 22, 2011
    7
    A good movie that had been better if not the forced, yet sometimes confusing message. Maybe if I watched it back in 1998 , I would appreciate it more, but its position in any kind of film rankings is misleading. The only thing I couldn`t forget was Edward Norton`s exceptional performance, and not only because others played roughly average roles. The story tries hard to establish the characters and the origin of racism but succeeds only in part. The viewer doesn`t get a full explanation, only bits of information that want him to think clearly : this is good, this is bad. We see a bunch of people changing their ways but we do not get the reasoning behind it. The main conclusion is not very clear and doesn`t find a strong material to it in the movie. The result is : you get the message this movie wants you to get, but mostly because it is literally given to you at the very end of it. You do not really understand why this particular message, because the story suggests something different. An excellent idea executed poorly with a bit of a genius play. Expand
  15. Apr 22, 2014
    8
    White supremacist Derek Vinyard lands himself in prison having savagely murdered a black gang member caught trying to steal his truck. Whilst in prison he has time to reflect on his beliefs and realises that he must change his ways. Upon his release however he finds that his younger brother, Danny, is following a similar path and vows to stop him.

    As an audience it can often be
    difficult to understand why a person may hold racist viewers. Unlike the majority of movies dealing with race however American History X paints a picture of why its characters feel and act the way they do giving it far more relevance to real life as well as making for a far more interesting movie.

    Fantastic performances from the cast, particularly Edward Norton in arguably his finest ever performance, also help to maintain the authentic feel of the movie. By the time it reaches its finale it is easy to have become invested in the characters in what is an engrossing look at racial tension within Los Angeles.
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  16. Oct 20, 2012
    8
    I had very high expectations going into American History X, but I found the whole to be less then the sum of it's parts. The film is full of situations but it never turns into a whole. This is not to say that it's parts are not extremely well made and powerful.
  17. Aug 12, 2011
    9
    A truly powerful film, with a message that will stay with you long after the screen goes off, American History X is a force to be reckoned with. Edward Norton's performance stands out. It is a very believable and gripping performance. I love any movie that touches on 'touchy' subjects. In this case, it's racism. The thing with this topics in films is that they are very easy to mess up, or become cliche. Luckily, this movie wonderfully, and shockingly tells the story of a man that escapes the life of a Skinhead, and further tries to prevent his younger brother from falling down the same path. A classic film, and a must-see for any movie-buff. 9/10 Expand
  18. Oct 3, 2011
    10
    62??? really???? This is one of the greatest movies ever made. Edward Norton hit a home run on this film, his acting was amazing. The story was great also. I am still trying to figure out who the heck these 'experts' are.
  19. Mar 16, 2013
    8
    Edward Norton puts in a career-defining performance as Derek Vinyard, a smart yet troubled individual who is part of the Neo-Nazi movement after tragedy befalls his family.
    Told in a non-linear fashion, the story tells of Derek's rise in the ranks of the movement, and an eventual vicious crime which leads to him being locked up. he soon sees a different side to his own life and attempts
    to alter it, one person not on board with his leaf turning is his fellow cult member brother, Daniel (Edward Furlong).
    We see the typical everyday lives of the two brothers, who have to deal with a very sick mother and an over-bearing leader in their Neo-Nazi movement, and as the film goes on, we see beautifully rendered black and white flashbacks of Derek in prison, and he doesn't exactly have an easy time of it. He soon strikes up an unlikely friendship with a black inmate (Guy Torry), Derek, initially quite reluctant, starts to come out of his shell a little and begins to re-examine his hatred for different ethnicity.
    American History X tells a strikingly painful yet optimistic tale, putting across a message of not to judge a book by its cover, but also to examine said cover in great detail, Norton's character is adorned in hate tattoos yet he is an extremely smart and well-educated individual, and the film also shows the boundaries that are pushed to send a message.
    Edward Furlong is worlds away from his heroic turn in Terminator, swapping that for a person we don't quite understand, he clearly has hatred for those outside of his white supremacy, yet we know this is largely due to the influence of his older brother, thus maintaining strong family ties. The heavy race theme of the film will of course spread controversial themes, but its all about looking at the bigger picture, the value of family and the measures of belief.
    Norton of course puts in an Oscar worthy performance, and although he didn't win, this was a clear stepping stone to bigger things, Fight Club being one of them.
    There is a lot to take in tin this tale of trial and retribution, when a man who seeks revenge decides that this is not perhaps the best way to approach such a delicate matter, but a brother who simply wants the approval of his elder.
    Powerful and engrossing, American History X will not be to everyones liking, but it will certainly send a clear and simple message of love and hate combined in a wonderfully crafted piece of cinema.
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  20. Feb 14, 2012
    9
    I think one of the most powerful movies i've ever seen. There isn't one dull moment and it draws you in from the first minute. It's insane how buff Edword Norton got for this.
  21. May 1, 2014
    10
    Great movie that brings a lot of reflection over racism and prejudice. Give it a shot, it's totally worth it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I can't see how it got a overall score under 8.
  22. Apr 7, 2013
    10
    One of the greatest films I've ever seen. Edward Norton is such a fantastic actor and Edward Furlong is such a underrated actor. It's a definite must watch.
  23. Nov 11, 2012
    9
    Why did I watch it? Recorded this one a while ago while it was on as it's always been one of those films I've wanted to watch, purely based on its controversy, but somehow never got around to. What's it all about? Norton beefed up for the role A story of two LA neo-nazi brothers, American History X stars Edward Norton and Edward Furlong as Derek and Danny Vinyard. Angry with perceived injustices against the white population of Venice Beach and the nation as a whole on top of the murder of their father by a black drug dealer, the pair embrace the teachings of a local supremeist. The film alternates between the present day and flashbacks chronicling the relationship of the pair as the older brother, Derek (Norton), gets drawn into trouble with the gang and later tries to prevent his younger brother from making the same mistakes as him.

    Should you watch it?
    Violent, powerful and controversial, American History X is a hard-hitting drama dealing with a difficult but realistic subject and at times can be hard to watch. Obviously bearing in mind the subject matter, the script is unpleasant at times but the decision to give both characters a high degree of intelligence was a smart one as it at least allows them to put forward their argument in a reasonably articulate manner.
    Edward Norton is absolutely excellent as the older brother before and after his run in with the law and totally deserved his Oscar nomination. Furlong also deserves credit for his performance and it's disappointing that he didn't go on to better things from this. The black and white older footage, when Norton is at his angriest, adds to the powerful nature of the film and was a masterstroke. Norton's angry, shaven-headed, white and Nazi-tattoo clad torso in black and white is, from a cinematic perspective, a pretty powerful and controversial image.
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  24. May 28, 2014
    9
    Now this is a great film. Yes, it is dark, violent, and quite disturbing at times, but it is also powerful, moving, and important. Edward Norton is absolutely phenomenal. He takes this deeply troubled character who comes to realize what is truly going on his life and he knocks it out of the park. He was terrific and put the film on his shoulders and absolutely killed it. The director, Tony Kaye, while he wishes to distance himself from the final product, he did a great job as well. There was some beautiful imagery here and while it may not be the version he intended as the final cut, his vision absolutely is here and the messages it provokes is still powerful. Really, after watching this film, I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. The entire film is so moving and affecting that it really leaves you in a trance once it ends and the credits start rolling. On top of that, there are many powerful scenes, but none as powerful as the final one. It really leaves you on the brink of tears as you try to deal with what you just watched.

    A truly mesmerizing character study with a heart and soul, American History X should absolutely be considered a "must watch" for all.
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  25. Sep 4, 2012
    10
    Amazing movie. Someone please tell me that the critics are playing one big joke on the audience by not universally acclaiming this movie. But then again, who cares what they think, anyone who watched this knows it's a classic.
  26. Oct 23, 2013
    8
    I watched this for Edward Norton and he did not disappoint me. The movie alternates between his character's past and the present. He is a haunted man who just wants to be left alone, and to set his family affairs in order. But the movie failed to inspire me. Its attempts to evoke feelings of racial equality were mediocre at best. I feel that if they had done away with all pretence and concentrated solely on the transformation of Norton's character, this could have been something special. Expand
  27. Jan 14, 2013
    9
    This movie is a rough gritty film that deals with modern day Nazi's and how it affects people. It is a very real movie that shows truth and is powerful. It is no the best ever but a very good movie.
  28. Sep 15, 2013
    9
    One of the most powerful films I've ever seen. Extremely dark,disturbing,sad and enlightening. Edward Norton gives one of the most underrated screen performances ever, as he plays a Neo-Nazi who tries to stop his younger brother from heading down the same awful path he chose. Very visceral movie.Highly recommended.
  29. May 29, 2013
    10
    I think that this movie MUST take 10/10, because of it's thoughts about racism and Nazism. The end is curt, but still amazing... If you haven't seen it, you should. It's changed my feelings about Nazism positively and that's wonderful. Finally don't see it half. You'll dislike it.
  30. Aug 16, 2013
    7
    Una historia que es difícil de contar, es dura y muy emocional sobre aquella época. Da una enseñanza sobre los nuevos comienzos y de adaptarse a las características del tiempo en que uno vive. Gran actuación y guión.
  31. Sep 26, 2013
    10
    I really enjoyed this film. I loved the acting and powerfull message this movie had. I think this movie kinda helped me with some stuff I was going through as well.
  32. Aug 7, 2014
    10
    American History X has one of Ed Norton's best roles. His best movies are this and Fight Club. He has
    appeared in many movies but these two stand out from the rest. Both movies are unique and expertly
    made in every detail. American. History X has a positive message against racism and the movie depicts
    the behaviour of racists and non-racists, A+.
Metascore
62

Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 32
  2. Negative: 3 out of 32
  1. The movie can't explain as much as it wants to about what makes (and unmakes) a skinhead, but it carries us a fair distance.
  2. For all its surface verisimilitude and for all its focus on a problem that couldn't be more current, this film can't manage to feel more than sporadically real.
  3. 91
    Feels as true as a documentary, as painful as a blow to the heart.