While I used to insist that drama was one of my least favorite film categories, the older I get the more I enjoy a good drama. Of course as long as the movie is amazing then it really doesn’t matter what genre the film belongs to if I’m being entirely honest with myself. However, I’ve found that while most dramas make me sad there is one that had stuck with me throughout the years that I still remember talking about with an aunt’s ex husband. In a many ways that is because the film I am about to talk about is one that stays with you in between viewings. The imagery and the words haunt one for a lifetime and continue to make them think.
Day 5: Your favorite drama movie – American History X
The first time I watched American History X I remember feeling numb afterward. There were many reasons. The ending is one of the roughest endings I’ve ever sat through. And hopefully there are not many people out there who hasn’t seen the film because I plan on talking about that ending right now. You’ve been warned. My heart broke the first time I heard those gunshots and my heart broke again when I saw Derek Vinyard’s reaction to the murder of his brother Danny Vinyard. While Derek waited for the bottom to fall out of his world, the thought that the same could occur in his little brother’s world never occurred to him. And the result is a breathtaking performance by Edward Norton that still leaves me wondering how that man did not walk away with an Oscar in 1998.
The ending is not the only heart breaking nuance of American History X though. First off, my generation sits in shock and awe as we watch William Russ, aka Mr. Matthew’s from Boy Meets World, say the most racist remarks and plant these seeds in his son’s head. He puts his eldest son on this path that whites are superior and leads him down the road of becoming a Neo Nazi. Because despite people thinking that we don’t grow up to be our parents they influence us heavily in what we do in life. Thankfully, not everyone that hears such hatred spewing from their family members lips do not follow the same path, or a worse path for that matter. Considering the horrendous crime that Derek commits that lands him in prison in the first place, his transformation is nothing short of amazing.
The way the film goes back and forth between color and black and white is equally important. I’ve always saw the film ending in color as Derek finally seeing the world for what it is, which is not black and white. Or black vs white for that matter. He finally starts asking the right questions and he realizes that nothing in his past has made his life better. In fact, this has done the opposite. His whole goal though was to impart the same wisdom he learned the hard way. Wisdom he never had the chance to impart on his brother, but on audiences instead.
When I look back at American History X, I have continued hope that one day that everyone sees the error of their way. I wish for a world where people realize hate solves nothing. I hope for a world where no one sees color other than the grass is green and the sky is blue. The desire to live in a world were people realize we people don’t profile and merely accept one another for who they are and not the color of their skin is a future worth dreaming about and striving toward. We can all live as one. We don’t have to constantly wait for the bottom to fall out before realizing that truth.