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analysis american history x

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Marisa Ghazalli - American History X American History X is a powerful movie and it was most difficult to find a scene to analyze as every little bit was brilliant. However I have chosen a particular scene which I feel contributed enormously to understanding the movie as a whole. In this scene you have Derek (Edward Norton), Danny (Edward Furlong), Davina (Jennifer Lien), Dorris (Beverly D'angelo), Stacey (Fairuza Balk) and Murray (Elliot Gould) sitting down at the dinner table. This terribly in depth conversation over different values and views quickly resulted in disagreements and lead to Davina wanting to leave the dinner table. However, due to Derek's inabilities to listen and forceful character he refuses to let her leave and violently force feeds her a piece of turkey as she tries to escape resulting the family in a terrible breakdown. I believe this whole scene was used so that we were able to gain an insight into the different views, opinions and personalities of all the characters. The decision to place all the characters here sitting around the dinner table was a device used to tell the audience about the political background and a chance for us to critically analyze what each character had to say and then watch the response of the others. The message that the director is trying to portray to the audience by sitting Derek at the head of the table is the strengh, forcefulness and leadership abilities that he possesses and how deep down he is possibly capable of change. ...read more.


The scene was set in black and white portraying Derek's world as full of hatred, anger and basically no meaning. When Derek starts to change throughout the movie though the scenes are then restored to colour, showing the audience that he has seen a new meaning to life. Another use for the black and white is that it was set in the past. I think the statement being made here is that open your eyes and that the real world is in colour and not black and white. Also, this has been carefully thought through as the whole function of it is because it is between black and whites. Through watching the movie I noticed that Derek is always wearing white for example, in a different scene when he is confronting two African Americans for stealing his car his white vest is making him stand out from them, you will also notice that the African Americans are dressed in dull and dark colours. The same rule here is applied at the dinner table scene with Derek wearing a clean white coloured shirt and later on you will see him rip that off to a white vest underneath. The film maker here is not only trying to get the main character to stand out but to also give you that mental image of whiteness meaning purity, supremacy of whiteness, authority and power. ...read more.


The music accompanying the shot at the time really grips you in and you feel emotionally sorry for her. It is like she has still not given up hope on her boys and quotes 'he's just a boy, without a father', the close up shot here shows you her full emotion and pain but she turns her head slightly to cry. The fact she has done that shows us that she does not want Murray to see this indicating she is deep down troubled and alone. Other techniques that were used here to indicate this is when she drops to the curb on her hands and knees in an establishing long shot. I believe this shot was the most effective as I just wanted it to move onto another scene quickly so I could have hope for her as at that point my hope for her had been shattered. However the length of this shot is extremely long and the film maker holds onto it giving us time to really feel for Dorris. I chose this scene because coming from a white but also mixed background I find it very significant to me because I believe we are all the equal and just because my parents come from totally different backgrounds I think it is important that we mix with people from all different of walks of life and learn from one another. The scene is most probably the most emotional out of all and this really made me understand the message and the film as a whole. ...read more.

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