#5 “Hey. I got a bet. I come in this game right now, same score…” – Derek


Look familiar?

I think I saw these same courts several years ago when I visited Venice; but while staying just up the beach from them this trip, I was able to get a great shot.

This intense scene comes from American History X, one of my favorite movies of all time. I’m not sure which came first, my appreciation for Edward Norton (probably one of my favorite actors) or my love of this movie.

Interestingly, I think some small element to my affinity for writing comes from various characters in movies I’ve liked who happen to be good writers, such as Derek’s little brother Danny (played by Edward Furlong) and Rob Brown’s leading character in ‘Finding Forrester,’ both a writing prodigy and basketball phenom.

American History X is certainly not for the faint of heart. The movie follows a group of neo-nazis living in a racially contentious period in LA following the beating of Rodney King and subsequent riots. Norton plays Derek Vineyard, an extremely bright, but angry and vulnerable youth following the tragic death of his father, who becomes the young leader through which a local neo-nazi legend (Stacy Keach) orchestrates acts of violence and attempts to spread his hateful propaganda.

Arguably one of the most violent and well-known scenes in the film comes as a direct result of the victory of “whites over the blacks,” on the basketball court:

***Warning Violent ***

Incidentally, the subsequent prison sentence Derek faces after his brutal crime and the violence and abuse he suffers while there eventually leads him to question all of the propaganda he had previously simply accepted when blinded by anger after the death of his father. This questioning along with a friendship he develops with a black man he is forced to work with in the prison laundry room as well as discussions he has with his former teacher (one of the few black people he had looked up to and respected) eventually lead to his redemption and an attempt to save his younger brother from ending up on the same path for destruction he took.