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Hands Over the City (The Criterion Collection)

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Anchored by a ferocious lead performance from Rod Steiger as a scheming land developer, Francesco Rosi’s Hands Over the City moves breathlessly from a cataclysmic building collapse to the backroom negotiations of civic leaders vying for power in the City Council election. Plunging headfirst into the politically driven real-estate speculation that has devastated Naples’ civilian landscape, Hands Over the City, which was awarded the Golden Lion at the 1963 Venice Film Festival, remains a blistering work of social realism.

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Neapolitan Diary (1992), Rosi’s feature-length sequel to Hands Over the City
  • New video interviews with director Francesco Rosi, film critic Tullio Kezich, and filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Video discussion with Rosi, co-writer Raffaele La Capria, and film critic Michel Ciment
  • Booklet with a new essay by film critic Stuart Klawans and a 2003 interview with Rosi

Product Details

  • Actors: Rod Steiger, Salvo Randone, Guido Alberti, Angelo D'Alessandro, Carlo Fermariello
  • Directors: Francesco Rosi
  • Writers: Francesco Rosi, Enzo Forcella, Enzo Provenzale, Raffaele La Capria
  • Producers: Lionello Santi
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 1, 2010
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H5U5KS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,660 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hands Over the City (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

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Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 2, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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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.
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This is an odd movie; a classic of the form -- yet heavy, preachy, neo-Realism with a vengeance.
It's well worth seeing.
But really for fans of the form and the actors.
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