Hands, as much as faces and words, can tell a story all their own. Be they the primary indicator of the action ahead, or an accomplice to whatever other talents a performer is using at the moment, they certainly do get around in the medium of film. So let's give a hand to that very appendage by watching a tribute to hands entitled, "A Show of Hands."
Editor Thor Cromer shared his hand-y supercut through his YouTube channel, showcasing the best action you can see with five (give or take) digits and extremely good motor skills. Grabbing, smashing, slapping, fiddling, and just plain nonsensical flailing are all on display, as the folks showcased here are extremely expressive with their articulate gesticulations. The examples may range from both the classic and the modern, but they are universal in the sentiment that sometimes words can't capture what the hands can.
To start, you have some of the crazier moments in this montage, such as manic gestures from Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys and Steve Martin in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles - both of whom have hands that seem so light, they must be made of paper. Of course, the craziness can only last for so long, as lunacy starts to turn to menace in the second act, where one of Mia Farrow's infamous moments of horror from Rosemary's Baby and Christopher Lloyd's gloved hands show what the justice of The Dip could do in Who Framed Roger Rabbit can co-mingle with Bruce Campbell giving himself the finger in a moment from Evil Dead 2: Dead Before Dawn.
Of course, the weird stuff doesn't kick in until the third and fourth movements of "A Show Of Hands," in which more functional movements in performances like Daniel Day Lewis' Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood give way to more surreal moments like a pair of pavement laden hands trying to apprehend Brazil's Sam Lowery. The point is, when you watch a video like "A Show of Hands," you really start to wonder how we take little things like hand gestures for granted in the cinematic realm.
While we tend to focus on dialogue and even the general scene being set by what's going on in the foreground of any given scene, sometimes the smaller details will elude us in the shuffle. Very rarely do you look at a person's hands and remember what they were doing with them at any given time, which is an advantage to the film-makers when they want to try and put one over on the audience. Though sometimes this trick works in the inverse, as attention will be paid to said hands and their actions, leaving viewers to wonder just what outside factor are necessitating these actions. In either case, the next time you sit down to watch a movie, and a scene with particularly intense dialogue starts to unfold, try paying close attention to the hands of the people in said scene. They just might be trying to give you a clue.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.