"American History X"

Essay by SyncopeHigh School, 11th gradeB, November 2002

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Short review on the movie and the violence within it. short little piece, its not too bad, i felt hard done by the mark.

American history X

The film tries to deal with social issues as honestly as possible.Racism is a serious problem. Racist organizations like the one depicted in the film exist in seriously large numbers.People get caught up in racial hatred. Violence results.And, yes, people do change.But it's that last item that concerns me.All of the characterizations seem distanced and one-sided.As most filmmakers do, director Tony Kaye and writer David McKenna stack the deck to make their case. We get a pretty good idea of why Derek becomes so enraged against blacks. We are shown that his father was racist to begin with, and a father's violent death could be the turning point for any impressionable youth. But for a man so steeped in hatred as Derek is, could a few years in prison, where he experiences fellow whites betraying one another and a black man befriending him, change him so radically that he suddenly wants no more part of racism? It's an idealistic sentiment and probably such drastic turnabouts do occur, but I wasn't convinced by the film's portrayal of it.

Additionally, like Derek's sudden change of heart, many of the other characters are presented as simply all good or all bad. Dr. Sweeny, the school principal played by Avery Brooks, is all good--a black man of impeccable courage and conviction. The younger brother is all bad, totally submerged in Alexander's movement. Murray, Derek's mother's boyfriend played by Elliott Gould, is all good--a mushy Jewish liberal who says entirely the right things but has no backbone to pursue them. And, of course, Alexander is all bad--bad to the quick, evil...