Politics And Corruption: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great T
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 12/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Francesco Rosi's "Hands Over The City," though released in 1963, displays remarkable insight and timeliness in exposing the political machinations within a particular city government. It seems not a lot has changed over the years as profit motivations and winning at any cost are still more significant political agendas than any social or environmental concerns. The film was, and still remains, a relevant examination of political process at its most compromised. Having gone through the many questions and controversies surrounding New Orleans' Katrina disaster--where the city's infrastructure was called into question--I couldn't help but think how universal the themes presented within "Hands" have turned out to be.
The film begins as a group of land developers, led by Rod Steiger, decide to purchase public lands to privately expand their housing projects. Pushed through in three days due to political connections, the project is called into question when their construction crew inadvertently brings down a building that is still inhabited. It's a harrowing and believable scene that sets the stage for the rest of the film.
The first half of "Hands" depicts the investigation into the tragedy. Although it is clear that Steiger and his group are culpable, it becomes a moot point as the committee assigned to research the matter is shuffled from office to office. In one of the more affecting sequences in the film, the group meets up with the various parties within the bureaucratic machine that have a hand in construction projects and each one passes the buck to the next. With lack of any cooperation, the quest for truth never reaches fruition.
The second half deals more with the repercussions of the event. Steiger, whose reputation has been questioned, still wants to be appointed City Commissioner. And here, we witness many boardroom meetings and backroom deals. It's matter-of-fact and well presented, an intriguing look behind the scenes. One Commissioner who does not want to be in league with Steiger tries to withdraw from his party. As he is told, "In political life, moral indignation is a worthless commodity." A blunt and realistic observation, even in today's world.
"Hands Over the City" is ultimately more about processes than people. The characters here are really secondary to the dealmaking. A fascinating and intelligent film, check out "Hands"--you might be surprised how timely it seems. KGHarris, 12/06."
Hard-hitting tale of municipal corruption!
Cubist | United States | 10/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Edoardo Nottola (Steiger) is an ambitious land developer who wants to build up a promising, rough piece of real estate in Francesco Rosi's hard-hitting expose of corruption, Hands Over the City. From the opening establishing shot, Rosi presents the densely populated city of Naples as a place constantly busy with the hustle and bustle of daily life. A building under construction collapses in the middle of the day sending people scattering for cover. It's a powerful and dynamic sequence to start the movie with and succeeds in capturing our attention right away.
Hands Over the City brilliantly exposes how big city development operates and how construction companies grease the wheels to get what they want and this involves paying off city officials so that these companies can do what they want with little bureaucratic interference. Of course, it is the people who suffer - dying in building collapses due to shoddy construction materials and practices or living in substandard conditions because it is all that they can afford.
Rosi has previously made a significant contribution to political cinema with Salvatore Giuliano and Hands Over the City continued to do what he described as the ability to master "the delicate balance between reality itself and an interpretation of reality." As the director has said, his movie is about a game of alliances - both economical and political with the general public unwitting pawns unaware of what is happening and in the end suffering from the consequences while the powers that be remain rich and powerful. Hands Over the City is a wonderfully angry protest movie that also entertains and features a powerful performance by Rod Steiger.
There is an interview with Francesco Rosi who talks about making the movie. He says that, "experiencing reality through political actions, through political events, is very, very difficult. You have to have a very practiced eye."
Italian film critic Tullio Kezich talks briefly about Rosi's films. He finds his work fascinating because it upsets and disturbs. He describes Hands Over the City as "an analysis of a criminal situation depicted in a very powerful way."
Film critic Michel Ciment interviews Rosi and screenwriter Raffaele la Capria about their initial inspiration for the movie. They grew up together in Naples, where the film is set, and so they knew the city well and had a vested interest in its state of affairs.
Filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin takes a critical look at the film, describing it as "cinema of claustrophobia" and relentless in its look at corruption. He points out that many of the characters yell at each other but don't really listen to what is being said.
Finally, the most substantial extra is Neapolitan Diary (1992), Rosi's feature-length documentary that revisits Naples 30 years after he made Hands Over the City to examine its current state of civic affairs. He shows that things have not gotten better and are in fact worse."
A very nice film
Ted | Pennsylvania, USA | 10/30/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hands Over the City, released in Italy as "Le Mani sulla città" is a film that depicts the city council of Naples Italy. In the film they are corrupt and assisting a greedy land deveolper.
The film is inspired by actual events but the characters in the film are fictional. The lead part is played by American actor, Rod Steiger whose lines appear to be dubbed.
(Also, the film "I Cento Passi" or "One Hundred Steps" contains a movie theater scene where Hands over the City is shown. This is another good film about real life Sicillian anti-mafia activist, Peppino Impastato who was later murdered. This is another good film but is unavailable in the US. The official DVD release in Italy has English subtitles I bought a
copy in Italy and I recommend this film too.)
The film has some great special features including a follow up documentary on the city of Naples and how it has changed since the film's release.
Disc one contains the film
Disc two contains the follow up documentary "Neaopolitan Diary" or "Diario napoletano". Also is a video conversation between Director Francesco Rosi, co-writer Raffaele La Capria, and film critic Michel Ciment. There are also new interviews with Francesco Rosi, movie critic Tullio Kezich, and French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin"
Compelling Addition to the Italian Neo- Realist Canon
Christopher Beckwith | Minneapolis | 07/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd not known of Hands Over the City till recently, but surely, given it was released in 1963, a case could be made "Hands" belongs to the post war Italian neo-realist canon, and deserves to stand with such famed neo-realist works like Open City and Bicycle Thief. Yet, for a film over 40 years old, it is remarkably contemporary and its relevance can't be denied. I can't imagine why Marty Scorsese would overlook this gritty, tough film in his "My Voyage to Italy" for there is much here to admire, and most important, that Rosi makes no concession to spoon feed the narrative to his audience. It is a complicated and challenging work, full of fast moving ideas that may take more than one viewing to sort through the nuances, not to mention all the characters and issues - but it's well worth it. Rich, robust film making, this, and I plan to revisit "Hands" often because it easily sustains multiple viewings. Looking for a real movie that packs a wallop? You've found it."