Is your life getting better? (Film review: American History X)

I just watched the film American History X, with Rose. It’s a powerful and moving film. If you haven’t already seen it, it’s well worth adding to your queue.

The film follows the life of Derek Vinyard, a skin head who has been sent to prison for committing a hate crime. The story follows his attempts to stop his younger brother from following the same path as him.

One of the more powerful scenes takes place about two thirds of the way through the film. In the scene, Derek is comforted by his former high school professor, Dr Bob Sweeney. Sweeney comforts Derek, but then confronts him about the hate he feels and why that’s the case. Derek lists all the reasons why he’s still confused, and why he can’t stop hating just yet. Sweeney then confronts him.

“Has anything you’ve done, made your life any better?”

This was one of the core themes of the film and something that stood out to me. The film deals with the power of leadership and how important good leadership is. When we see Sweeney confront Derek with this question, it’s challenges his very basic idea of who he is following and why he is following them. Derek himself then goes on to inspire leadership in the others around him, and leaves prison to attempt to begin and forge his own life with a new found determinism.

Check the film out, when you’re next looking for something good to watch.