I have seen American History X a number of times, the Neo-Nazi themed film starring Edward Norton (in an Oscar nominated performance) is not easy to watch. The acting is incredible, the screenplay is solid and gives each main character a chance to communicate their individual story to the audience. I also decided to watch the Russell Crowe starring film, Romper Stomper today which is also involves a group of violent Neo-Nazi skin heads venting their irrational anger and frustration on non-White minorities.
American History X follows Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) a racist skin head and explores his experiences before, during and after his incarceration and his relationship with his family, his fellow neo-nazi’s, and his fellow prison inmates. Romper Stomper’s storyline is less multi layered than American History X. It follows a racist skin head gang lead by Hando (Russell Crowe) and their inability to deal with immigration and multiculturalism in Australia.
I personally prefer American History X because it doesn’t feel like a documentary. The director, Tony Kaye deals with this sensitive topic by giving the main character a solid journey from racist savagery to redemption. It tells the audience that there is redemption for people like Derek Vinyard and that some can eventually see the error of their ways. On the other hand, Romper Stomper is an incredibly bleak film, the characters are infuriatingly depressing, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is realistic. This film tells us that movies about this topic are not supposed to be extremely complicated because racism itself is not complicated. It is a simple notion that some people believe they are superior to others on the basis of skin colour and ethnicity. This film is very authentic for that reason and like Edward Norton, Russell Crowe gives an incredible performance and does a good job of portraying an internally ugly character.
I advise people to watch American History X because it gives the audience an opportunity to understand a character’s long journey from being an optimistic liberal to becoming a Neo-Nazi and why he eventually rejects his racist beliefs. The cinematographer’s use of scenery and colour is also affective.
Romper Stomper occasionally felt like it was going in the wrong direction because I wanted to know more about the victims of racism, not the perpetrators. However, the acting is realistic and if you’re a fan of Russell Crowe then this films seems like a decent choice when looking at how his career has gone from strength to strength.