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American History X [Blu-ray]
(Tony Kaye, 1998)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: New Line Cinema
Video:New Line Home Video
Disc Size: 29,368,655,559 bytes
Feature Size: 28,718,032,896 bytes
Average Bitrate: 32.21 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 7th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: VC-1 Video
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1530 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1530 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
English, Spanish, none
• Three Deleted Scene (6:54 in SD)
• Trailer (2:29 in HD!)
Description: Edward Norton gives an impassioned performance as Derek Vinyard, a Southern Californian skinhead who must do time after committing a hateful murder. Once in jail, his mind opens and he sees the error of his ways. Upon reentering the real world, he must now turn his attentions to his younger brother Danny, who is swiftly heading down the same path as his brother. Controversy surrounded the film when director Tony Kaye disowned it, claiming that Norton had the film re-edited without Kaye's permission. Norton still got an Oscar Nomination for his intense performance.
Derek Vinyard is dangerous, a coiled fury of hate who leads a neo-Nazi gang. But time and events start to change him. He reassesses his ways while doing time for manslaughter and emerges from prison eager to keep his younger brother (Edward Furlong) from falling victim to the thug cycle of violence and payback. It may be too late. Weaving in and out of events past and present in Dereks life, American History X is revealing in its look at white-supremacist gangs and impassioned in its message that hatred and bigotry can be unlearned. Edward Norton (Fight Club, Pride and Glory) portrays Derek, giving a powerful, persuasive, Oscar®-nominated* performance.
American History X is littered with pitfalls. It is unavoidably
didactic in its messaging. It is distractingly overwritten in certain
scenes. Its tone is weirdly, uncomfortably operatic, replete with
muscular orchestral music so extravagant one might think it was a '40s
period piece. So many potential problems -- and yet despite its flaws
(and perhaps because of them), the film finds a sublime power that is
not easily achieved in American cinema. Contradictory though it may
seem, American History X is utterly flawed -- and one of the most
important films in recent memory.
New Line's Blu-ray of American History X looks solid. The image quality shows some healthy grain with the black and white flashback sequences appearing even grittier. Detail, though rarely pristine, and contrast seem very adept and it's hard to believe the film is over a decade old now. This squeaks into dual-layered territory with the feature being under 30 Gig and the bitrate supports the 2-hour film in the low 30's (Mbps). Colors aren't overly bright and the image is not glossy - this tends to export the realism of the film to an appropriate deal. It doesn't exhibit extravagant depth. Skin tones seem true while daylight scenes, with a setting sun, are occasionally glaring. This Blu-ray has a nice realistic feel and I don't have any demonstrative complaints. It's refreshing to see the background grain so intense and I don't have evidence of digital manipulations. This image is far superior to the existing NTSC DVD.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is presented in TrueHD at 1530 kbps along with the choice of s standard 5.1 track. Despite American History X's intensity and occasional seething score by Anne Dudley- it is not an aggressive track with minimal gunplay (two scenes) and mostly dialogue is the proponent of conflict. The mix is not demo-material but supports the film adequately. Subtitles are available in both English and Spanish. We've been told this release is region FREE!
The supplements are minimal and duplicate the DVD with three deleted scenes (7:00 in SD) that seem fairly effective for the film - but possibly were considered overkill. Included is a 2.5 minute HD trailer - but that is all. The film has wide acclaim and important social and political messages that would seem to warrant more - as in a commentary but perhaps director Tony Kaye's distancing of the final cut has quashed anything of this nature. Regardless - it is a shame.
March 30th, 2009
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
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Gary W. Tooze
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