Gangs of New York (2002)

R | 165 or 168 mins | Epic | 20 December 2002

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
You may also like these titles from the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, the most authoritative documentation of the First 100 Years of American filmmaking.

Director:

Martin Scorsese

Cinematographer:

Michael Ballhaus

Production Designer:

Dante Ferretti

Production Companies:

Miramax Film Corp., Touchstone Pictures, Initial Entertainment Group
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HISTORY

The following written disclaimer appears at the end of the onscreen credits: “While this motion picture is based upon historical events, certain characters’ names have changed, some main characters have been composited or invented and a number of incidents fictionalized.” Another end credit reads: “Footage from ‘ Djembefeloa ’ provided courtesy of Laurent Chevallier, P.O.M. Films, Freddy Denaës & Gael Teicher.” The onscreen credit for Industrial Light & Magic reads: "Special Visual Effects by Industrial Light & Magic, A Division of Lucas Digital, LTD., Marin County, California." Intermittent narration by Leonardo DiCaprio, as “Amsterdam Vallon,” is heard throughout the film.
       As stated in the disclaimer, the picture is based on several historical incidents and people. The area depicted in the picture, New York’s Five Points, no longer exists, but in the 1800s was considered the worst slum in the world. The intersection of what were then Worth, Little Water, Mulberry, Cross and Orange streets, culminating in “Paradise Square,” was the Five Points area. Located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Five Points was home to thousands of immigrants from the early 1800s onward. Irish immigrants flooded into the Five Points, particularly from the 1840s, and as noted in the film, by the mid-1800s, approximately fifteen thousand Irish were arriving in New York harbor every week. After leaving Ireland due to the staggering poverty, famine and disease in their native country, the Irish landing in America were met with hatred from the so-called “Native Americans,” mostly of Anglo-Dutch ancestry. The Protestant “Nativists,” as they were then called, were especially virulent about the immigrants’ Catholic religion, as they felt the Irish would “give loyalty to their Church before the ... More Less

The following written disclaimer appears at the end of the onscreen credits: “While this motion picture is based upon historical events, certain characters’ names have changed, some main characters have been composited or invented and a number of incidents fictionalized.” Another end credit reads: “Footage from ‘ Djembefeloa ’ provided courtesy of Laurent Chevallier, P.O.M. Films, Freddy Denaës & Gael Teicher.” The onscreen credit for Industrial Light & Magic reads: "Special Visual Effects by Industrial Light & Magic, A Division of Lucas Digital, LTD., Marin County, California." Intermittent narration by Leonardo DiCaprio, as “Amsterdam Vallon,” is heard throughout the film.
       As stated in the disclaimer, the picture is based on several historical incidents and people. The area depicted in the picture, New York’s Five Points, no longer exists, but in the 1800s was considered the worst slum in the world. The intersection of what were then Worth, Little Water, Mulberry, Cross and Orange streets, culminating in “Paradise Square,” was the Five Points area. Located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Five Points was home to thousands of immigrants from the early 1800s onward. Irish immigrants flooded into the Five Points, particularly from the 1840s, and as noted in the film, by the mid-1800s, approximately fifteen thousand Irish were arriving in New York harbor every week. After leaving Ireland due to the staggering poverty, famine and disease in their native country, the Irish landing in America were met with hatred from the so-called “Native Americans,” mostly of Anglo-Dutch ancestry. The Protestant “Nativists,” as they were then called, were especially virulent about the immigrants’ Catholic religion, as they felt the Irish would “give loyalty to their Church before the nation,” according to studio press notes on the film. [In the picture, “Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting” makes numerous, disparaging remarks about Catholicism.] Nativists also feared that the Irish and other immigrants, as well as freed slaves, would work for less money than native-born Americans and therefore affect employment.
       The gangs depicted in the film, such as the Dead Rabbits (which comes from a Gaelic term meaning “a violent, angry hulk”), the Bowery Boys and the Slaughter Housers, were real gangs that roamed Manhattan, terrorizing citizens, protected by various factions of the police and political organizations and constantly warring with one another. Of the characters in the film, several are based on real people, including Bill, who was based on Bill “The Butcher” Poole. Although Poole actually died in 1855, before the main action of the film occurs, he was a well-known Nativist gang leader who fought against the Irish and was eventually killed in a brawl with an Irish gang member. Poole’s purported last words were “Goodbye boys, I die a true American!”
       Hell-Cat Maggie, a bouncer in an Irish bar, was known for wearing artificial brass fingernails to kill her opponents and for keeping a jar of ears as souvenirs of her battles. William Marcy “Boss” Tweed [d. 1878] is considered by many scholars to have been the most corrupt politician in American history. The leader of Tammany Hall, Tweed orchestrated the election of hand-picked candidates and was incessantly in search of opportunities for graft. Some historians note that despite his massive corruption, Tweed was important in the history American immigration for his help in obtaining jobs for immigrants and for persuading them to vote, which few of them had ever done in their native countries. As shown in the film, Tweed often relied on various gangs to help him stuff ballot boxes by coercing, or forcing, people to vote several times for Tammany candidates.
       The incident in the film in which Bill and his men approach the Catholic cathedral in Five Points, but are turned away by hundreds of parishioners and their priests, was based on a real incident. In 1835, a group of Nativists attempted to storm the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, but were repulsed by the parishioners, led by Bishop Hughes. The first major riot between New York gangs in the Five Points occurred on 4 Jul 1857, when a group of Dead Rabbits and Plug Uglies fought the Bowery Boys. It is estimated that 1,000 people participated in the fight, with hundreds being injured.
       The Draft Riots, which are depicted at the conclusion of the film, were the worst riots in American history, and resulted in the greatest loss of life in New York City until the terrorist attacks on 11 Sep 2001. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln instituted the country’s first military draft, as the Union Army was badly in need of soldiers. Thirty thousand men, six thousand of whom were to come from Brooklyn, were called up, although an exemption to the draft allowed those who could pay $300 to avoid being drafted and send a substitute in their place. Many poorer citizens resented the exemption, and on 13 Jul 1863, riots broke out in New York City to protest the draft. According to historical sources, rioters in the tens of thousands spread throughout the city, with virtually every city policeman being killed or wounded, and dozens of African-Americans being brutally murdered. An orphanage for African-American children was one of the many buildings burned to the ground during the riots, which lasted for four days before being quelled by Union soldiers.
       The following information about the production of Gangs of New York comes from studio publicity, magazine articles and trade paper news items: Director Martin Scorsese first read Herbert Asbury’s account of 1800s New York gang life on 1 Jan 1970. Scorsese was immediately fascinated by the book and intended to make a film based on it. On 16 Jun 1977, producer Alberto Grimaldi ran a two-page ad in DV , announcing imminent production of a film based on the book, with Scorsese listed the director. Scorsese could not obtain financing for the picture and so worked on other productions, although he and his frequent collaborator, screenwriter and former Time magazine critic Jay Cocks, had completed the first draft screenplay of Gangs of New York by 1977. In 1991, Grimaldi brokered a deal for Universal to produce the picture for a budget of $30 million. At the time, the only cast member set for the film was Robert De Niro, who was to play Bill. Universal eventually assigned the underlying rights to the book and the project to Disney in 1997, according to a 3 Jan 2000 Var news item.
       In 1998, Michael Ovitz, Scorsese’s friend and agent, suggested that he consider casting DiCaprio as Amsterdam. DiCaprio, who had heard about the long-intended project several years earlier, states in studio press notes that he “was so determined to do this project with Marty [Scorsese] that I actually changed agencies when I was seventeen in order to be in closer contact [with him].” With DiCaprio attached to the project, Ovitz was able to re-interest Disney Studios in the project, which had been dormant. According to an 11 Oct 1999 HR article, “Disney had agreed to co-finance the film after [Scorsese and Cocks] rewrote the script, which added a love story.” Eventually, however, Disney chairman Joe Roth decided that due to the violent nature of the film, it “was not an appropriate Disney-themed movie,” according to a 7 Apr 2002 NYT article.
       Scorsese, Ovitz and producer Rick York then attempted to interest Warner Bros. in producing the picture, as Scorsese was contractually obligated to direct a film for that company, but Warner Bros. also declined. After several companies, including Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount and M-G-M, turned down the project, Miramax, a subsidiary of Disney, offered to take over the domestic distribution of the picture and help finance the production. In order to obtain the necessary funds for what was projected to be a large budget, Miramax head Harvey Weinstein sold the foreign distribution rights to Gangs of New York to Initial Entertainment Group [IEG], headed by Graham King, for approximately $65 million. Touchstone, a division of Disney, eventually became allied with Miramax in supplying funding for the production, in exchange for a portion of the proceeds from domestic distribution.
       On 3 Jan 2000, Grimaldi filed suit against Universal, IEG, Disney, Ovitz and several others, alleging breach of promise. Grimaldi’s suit stated that he had been forced out of the project after it moved from Universal to Disney, even though he had originally optioned and developed the material. Grimaldi asked for a $10 million award, as well as sole producer credit. In Apr 2000, the suit was settled, with Grimaldi being awarded $3 million, as well as the right to be listed as the sole producer instead of as a co-producer with Scorsese. In addition, Grimaldi’s son, Maurizio Grimaldi, who had worked on the project, was awarded an executive producer credit, and the rights were to revert to Grimaldi if the picture was not made by the end of 2001. According to news items, Scorsese’s ex-wife and frequent producer, Barbara DeFina , was no longer involved in the production of Gangs Of New York , nor was their joint production company, Cappa Productions. [DeFina is in the list of individuals and companies thanked by the filmmakers in the ending credits.]
       The film’s screenplay underwent numerous re-writes and, according to a 24 May 2002 Entertainment Weekly article, the script was not fully completed by the time production began on 18 Sep 2001. As noted by the Entertainment Weekly article, Hossein Amini was one of the writers who worked on the film’s screenplay, although he is not credited onscreen. According to studio press notes, Steven Zaillian “worked on the structure of the story” and Kenneth Lonergan “concentrated on further development of the characters.”
       By the time the film was ready to begin production, De Niro was forced to drop out due to “personal reasons,” according to a 15 Nov 1999 HR news item, and Scorsese considered Willem Dafoe for the role of Bill. Dafoe apparently declined the role, which was then accepted by Daniel Day-Lewis, who had not appeared onscreen since the 1997 production The Boxer . News items indicate that Pete Postlethwaite was considered for a role, although he does not appear in the completed film. According to a 23-30 Aug 2002 Entertainment Weekly article, “virtually every important young actress” was auditioned for the part of “Jenny Everdeane” before Cameron Diaz was cast. A book on Scorsese states that actresses Anna Friel, Claire Forlani, Heather Graham, Monica Potter and Mena Suvari were among those considered. The source also states that Barbara Bouchet was cast as “Jenny’s mother,” but she instead appears as “Mrs. Schermerhorn.”
       According to the presskit, Day-Lewis apprenticed to a real butcher to learn Bill’s trade, while a Jan 2003 Premiere article about the production reports that he also “could throw knives with frightening accuracy.” The distinctive glass eye worn by Bill, which features a blue bald eagle as the pupil, was achieved by a glass contact lens worn by Day-Lewis. Diaz studied with “a gentleman reputed to be Rome’s premier pickpocket” according to a Feb 2001 W article. In order to assure the authenticity of the slang spoken in the film, The Rogue’s Lexicon , compiled by New York City police chief George Matsell in 1859, was consulted, according to a Dec 2002 Smithsonian article. The presskit states that dialect coach Tim Monich also relied upon “period sources, humorous writings, poems, ballads and newspaper clippings,” as well as an early recording of New Yorker Walt Whitman to determine the various accents used in the picture. The studio presskit states that part of the film’s authenticity was achieved through the use of over 850,000 items that had recently been unearthed in the Five Points area by an archeological team. After production was completed, however, almost the entire collection was destroyed, while being kept in one of the World Trade Center buildings.
       One of the main challenges in recreating the area of the Five Points was that few photographs of the time period depicted in the film exist. In press notes, production designer Dante Ferretti, who collaborated with Scorsese on four previous films, relates that he was influenced by the photographs of Jacob Riis, who took many well-known photographs of New York slums in the 1870s. Some of the buildings erected on the vast Cinecittà Studios set for the movie—which covered more than one square mile—included real buildings of the time, such as the Old Brewery. Built in the 18th century, the Old Brewery became a notorious tenement, occupied by thousands of people. Other sets based on actual buildings included Sparrow’s Chinese Pagoda. Ferretti also designed two full-sized ships in the water section of the Cinecittà backlot and constructed a replica of New York harbor, in addition to several blocks representing other areas of Manhattan. According to the 2001 W article, Gangs of New York was the largest epic shot at Cinecittà since the 1963 Twentieth Century-Fox production Cleopatra (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ).
       According to the studio presskit, the picture contains more than one hundred speaking parts, and “before filming was complete, a total of 22,000 background player man-hours would be logged.” Scorsese carefully chose light-skinned Italian extras who could portray Irish immigrants, while “a large group [of extras] was also recruited from local US Army and Naval bases,” according to the presskit. Second-unit director of photography Florian Ballhaus is the son of director of photography Michael Ballhaus, who had worked with Scorsese on five earlier films. Several sources note that Scorsese and Ballhaus were inspired by the paintings of 17th century Dutch painter Rembrandt in creating the film’s lighting.
       Many sources report that the film’s budget was increased from approximately $83 million to at least $103 million during shooting, which was often plagued by bad weather and other delays. According to a 7 Apr 2002 NYT article, Scorsese and DiCaprio “agreed to pay a combined $7 million to help defray the cost overruns.” The film eventually became the most costly production ever made by either Scorsese or Miramax, as of Jan 2003. According to the Jan 2003 Premiere article, filming was completed after “going eight weeks over schedule.” Numerous reports surfaced as to extra shooting done after principal photography was completed, with everything from inserts of special effects models to close-ups of lead actors to a clarified, new ending being shot. The exact dates of additional filming are vague, although a Jan 2003 AmCin article reveals that Silvercup Studios in Astoria, NY was used for additional shooting.
       Harvey Weinstein originally hoped to release the film at Christmas 2001, but after the terrorist attacks on New York City, Scorsese and his editing team took a two-month hiatus, delaying post-production. Miramax also feared that it was not a “politically correct” time to release such a violent film, with its negative portrayals of police officers and firefighters, according to a 26 Oct 2001 Screen International article and an 8 Oct 2001 DV news item. Various sources state that tensions existed between Scorsese and Weinstein due to the film’s length, which in Oct 2001, reportedly ran approximately three hours and forty minutes. Despite alleged disagreements between Weinstein and Scorsese, a 14 May 2001 DV news item noted that Scorsese had signed a five-year, “first look deal with Miramax as an extension of his ‘Gangs’ deal.”
       On 20 May 2002, a twenty-minute “preview” of the picture, with French sub-titles, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival. According to a 21 May 2002 DV news item, Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, with whom he frequently works, spent seven weeks compiling the preview trailer, which was well received. According to the news item, after completing the trailer, Scorsese returned to “editing the film and is also in the midst of shooting some pickups.” Gangs of New York was next scheduled to be released on 12 Jul 2002, but that date was also pushed back until 25 Dec 2002. On 18 Oct 2002, Entertainment Weekly reported that the film’s music score was not yet complete, as the music written by Elmer Bernstein was being discarded in favor of a score by Howard Shore. Although a 16 Aug 2002 Wall Street Journal article stated that the filmmakers intended to retain a “portion” of Bernstein’s music in the film, he is not listed in the onscreen credits. The Jan 2003 AmCin article states that the special effects done by Industrial Light & Magic, which took approximately two years to complete, were “being refined right up until the film’s release.” The 25 Dec 2002 release date became controversial due to the simultaneous release of the DreamWorks production Catch Me If You Can , which also stars DiCaprio. Eventually, Miramax decided to release Gangs of New York on 20 Dec 2002.
       In addition to being named one of AFI’s top ten films of 2002, Gangs of New York received Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Original Song (“The Hands that Build America” by U2). The film also garnered Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Diaz) and for Best Actor--Drama (Day-Lewis). The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Day-Lewis), Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Song ("The Hands That Built America") and Best Sound. Day-Lewis was named Best Actor by film critics in New York, Boston and Seattle, and tied with Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt in the awards given by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Day-Lewis also was selected as Best Lead Movie Actor by SAG, and BAFTA awarded him as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. The film was nominated by the PGA for its Darryl Zanuck F. Producer of the Year Award, and Scorsese was nominated by the DGA for Outstanding Achievement in Feature Film. At the time of Scorsese's DGA nomination, it was announced that the guild also had selected the director to be the recipient of their 2003 career achievement award.
       Herbert Asbury’s book was also the basis for the 1938 Republic production Gangs of New York , directed by James Cruze and starring Charles Bickford and Ann Dvorak, although the earlier film was set in the 1930s and was completely fictional in tone. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Jan 2003
pp. 36-59.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1977
pp. 6-7.
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1993.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1999
p. 1, 18.
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1999
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
22 Nov 1999
p. 3, 13.
Daily Variety
27 Dec 1999
p. 1, 9.
Daily Variety
3 Apr 2000
p. 1, 24.
Daily Variety
2 May 2000.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 2000.
---
Daily Variety
8 Mar 2001.
---
Daily Variety
11 Apr 2001.
---
Daily Variety
14 May 2001.
---
Daily Variety
4 Oct 2001
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
8 Oct 2001.
---
Daily Variety
21 Dec 2001.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 2002.
---
Daily Variety
21 Mar 2002.
---
Daily Variety
8 Apr 2002.
---
Daily Variety
21 May 2002
p. 1, 17.
Daily Variety
13 Aug 2002.
---
Entertainment Weekly
24 May 2002
pp. 8-9.
Entertainment Weekly
7 Jun 2002
pp. 36-41.
Entertainment Weekly
23-30 Aug 2002.
pp. 24-31.
Entertainment Weekly
18 Oct 2002
pp. 12-13.
Entertainment Weekly
3 Jan 2003
pp. 43-44.
GQ
Mar 2001
pp. 287-291, 351-352.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1999.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1999
p. 4, 108.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1999.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 1999
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1999.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Oct 2000.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 2002.
---
Hollywood Reporter
6-8 Dec 2002
p. 2, 83.
Los Angeles Daily News
27 Dec 2002
pp. 8-9.
Los Angeles Herald Express
20 Apr 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Dec 2002.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Dec 2002
Calendar, p. 12.
New York
16 Dec 2002
pp. 29-34.
New York Times
12 Nov 2000.
---
New York Times
7 Apr 2002
p. 1, 26.
New York Times
8 Sep 2002
pp. 34, 57.
New York Times
11 Oct 2002.
---
New York Times
20 Dec 2002.
---
Premiere
Jan 2003
pp. 66-71.
Screen International
8 Oct 1999
p. 3, 6.
Screen International
6 Apr 2001.
---
Screen International
13 Apr 2001.
---
Screen International
26 Oct 2001.
---
Smithsonian
Dec 2002.
---
The Times (London)
21 Apr 2002
pp. 4-5.
The Times (London)
21 May 2002.
---
The Times (London)
24 Nov 2002
pp. 4-5.
Variety
25 Apr 1990.
---
Variety
3 Jan 2000.
---
Variety
10 Apr 2000.
---
Variety
11 Feb 2002.
---
W
Feb 2001.
---
Wall Street Journal
16 Aug 2002.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
In Order of Appearance
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Alberto Grimaldi Production; A Martin Scorsese Picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Action unit/2d unit addl 2d unit dir
Insert photog dir
2d unit dir for fight scenes
1st asst dir
1st asst dir, Italy
Action unit/2d unit 1st asst dir
Action unit/2d unit 1st asst dir
Action unit/2d unit 1st asst dir
Action unit/2d unit 1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir, Italy
2d 2d asst dir
Action unit/2d unit 2d asst dir
Action unit/2d unit 2d 2d asst dir
3rd asst dir, Italy
4th asst dir, Italy
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
Insert photog exec prod
Co-prod
Co-prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
Co-exec prod
Assoc prod
Addl photog line prod
Insert photog line prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Action unit/2d unit dir of photog
Insert photog dir of photog
"A" cam/Steadicam op
1st asst cam
"A" cam asst
"A" cam loader
"A" cam loader
"B" cam/Steadicam op
"B" cam asst
"B" cam loader
Video playback
Gaffer
Head gaffer, Italy
Action unit/2d unit gaffer
Best boy
Best boy
Action unit/2d unit best boy
Key grip
Action unit/2d unit key grip
Insert photog key grip
Head grip, Italy
Dolly grip
Action unit/2d unit cam op
Action unit/2d unit focus puller
Action unit/2d unit focus puller
Action unit/2d unit focus puller
Action unit/2d unit 2d asst cam
Action unit/2d unit 2d asst cam
Insert photog elec
Still photog
Still photog
Still photog
Cam crew
Elec & grip equipment
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Supv art dir
Tech art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Art dept research coord
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Addl ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
2d asst ed
Apprentice ed
Asst ed, Italy
Editorial intern, Italy
Editorial intern, Italy
Negative cutting
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Asst set dec
Prop supv
Prop master
Prop master
Insert photog prop master
Prop coord
Action unit/2d unit props
Action unit/2d unit props
Hand lettered props
On set dresser
Swing gang foreman
Set dressing painter
Const coord
Head painter
Head painter
Head plasterer
Sculptor
Head blacksmith
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
2d asst cost des
Cost coord
Ward master
Cost buyer
UK cost buyer
Actors ward mistress
Mr. DiCaprio's cost
Mr. Day-Lewis' cost
Ms. Diaz's cost
Chief cost cutter
2d principal cost cutter
Cutters asst
Cost painter
Action unit/2d unit ward asst
Head seamstress
Leather master
MUSIC
Exec mus prod
Orig mus
Mus ed
Exec in charge of mus
Source mus coord
Orig score prod
Mus prod coord
Tech coord
Electronic programmer
Mus crew
Mus crew
Mus crew
Orch score supv
Chinese performance coord
Prod mus coord
Prod mus adv
Prod mus adv
"Brooklyn Heights" rec and mixed by
"Brooklyn Heights" addl mixing by
"Brooklyn Heights" addl rec and mixing by
"Brooklyn Heights" orch
"Brooklyn Heights" cond
"The Hands that Built America" violin
"The Hands that Built America" tin whistle
"The Hands that Built America" prod and string arr
"The Hands that Built America" eng and mixed by
"The Hands that Built America" [Carl Glanville] as
"The Hands that Built America" live strings cond
"The Hands that Built America" violin
"The Hands that Built America" violin
"The Hands that Built America" viola
"The Hands that Built America" cello
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Action unit/2d unit unit sd mixer
Boom op
Action unit/2d unit boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer/Sd eff des/Ed
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
ILM visual eff supv
Italian spec eff supv
Head Italian spec eff tech
Spec eff coord
Action unit/2d unit spec eff tech
Spec visual eff
Visual eff prod
Computer graphics supv
Visual eff co-supv
Lead digital matte artist
Digital matte artist
Digital matte artist
Digital matte artist
Digital matte artist
Digital matte artist
Digital eff artist
Digital eff artist
Digital eff artist
Digital eff artist
Digital eff artist
Prod coord
Matchmover
Art dir
Digital paint & roto
Digital paint & roto
Prod asst
Digital modeler
Digital modeler
Scanning
Tech support
Tech support
Tech support
Tech support
Addl visual eff
Visual eff supv
Visual eff prod
Digital titles
Main title seq des
Insert photog spec eff/Pyrotechnic
Insert photog motion control
Insert photog model maker
MAKEUP
Spec eff and key makeup artist
Action unit/2d unit key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist for Mr. DiCaprio
Makeup artist for Ms. Diaz
Hair des
Hair des for Ms. Diaz
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Action unit/2d unit key hairdresser
Action unit/2d unit key hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Co-casting, UK
Asst casting, UK
Casting assoc
Casting, Italy
Asst casting, Italy
ADR voice casting
Extras casting
Extras casting
Casting support provided by
Unit prod mgr
Prod mgr, Italy
Action unit/2d unit prod mgr
Action unit/2d unit asst prod mgr
Action unit/2d unit prod coord
Action unit/2d unit prod coord
Unit mgr, Italy
Asst unit mgr
Post prod supv
Unit pub
Scr supv
Action unit/2d unit scr supv
Action unit/2d unit scr supv
Insert photog scr supv
Dialect coach
Historical adv
Researcher
Researcher
Research asst
Post prod research
Prod consultant
Animal wrangler
Loc mgr
Studio/Backlot mgr
Studio/Backlot mgr
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod auditor
Prod accountant
Accountant
Accountant
Asst accountant
Post prod accounting
Post prod accounting
Post prod coord
Prod cast liaison/Post prod coord
Post prod services for Initial Entertainment Group
Miramax prod coord for Italy
Exec asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Scorsese
Asst to Mr. Scorsese, Rome
Asst to Mr. Scorsese, Rome
Asst to Mr. DiCaprio
Asst to Mr. Lewis [sic]
Asst to Ms. Diaz
Asst to Harvey Weinstein
Asst to Harvey Weinstein
Asst to Harvey Weinstein
Asst to Harvey Weinstein
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation mgr
Asst transportation mgr
Butchering adv
Catering
Catering supv
Ships
Cast security
Contact lenses by
Insurance
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord, Italy
Stunt double for Mr. DiCaprio
Fight coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timing supv
Col timer
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the book The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld by Herbert Asbury (New York, 1928).
MUSIC
“Brooklyn Heights,” composed by Howard Shore, produced by Hal Willner, recorded and mixed by Eric Liljestrand, additional mixing by Tom Lazarus, additional recording and mixing by Geoff Foster, orchestrations by Jeff Atmajian, conductor by Andrew Brown, solo counter tenor by Will Towers, solo boy soprano by James Kanagasooriam
“Shimmy She Wobble,” written by Othar Turner, performed by Othar Turner & The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, courtesy of Bottom Third, Inc.
“Signal to Noise,” written and performed by Peter Gabriel, courtesty of Real World Records, Virgin Records and Geffen Records
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MUSIC
“Brooklyn Heights,” composed by Howard Shore, produced by Hal Willner, recorded and mixed by Eric Liljestrand, additional mixing by Tom Lazarus, additional recording and mixing by Geoff Foster, orchestrations by Jeff Atmajian, conductor by Andrew Brown, solo counter tenor by Will Towers, solo boy soprano by James Kanagasooriam
“Shimmy She Wobble,” written by Othar Turner, performed by Othar Turner & The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, courtesy of Bottom Third, Inc.
“Signal to Noise,” written and performed by Peter Gabriel, courtesty of Real World Records, Virgin Records and Geffen Records
“Drummer’s Reel,” written by Johnny Kalsi, performed by The Dhol Foundation, courtesty of Shakti Records
“Dark Moon, High Tide,” written by Simon Emmerson, Davy Spillane and Martin Russell, performed by Afro Celt Sound System, courtesy of Real World Records Ltd./Virgin Records Ltd.
“Poontang Little, Poontang Small,” arranged and performed by Jimmie Strothers on guitar, recorded by John A. Lomax and Harold Spivacke, courtesy of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“Saor-Free,” written by Ronan Browne, performed by Afro Celt Sound System, courtesy of Real World Records Ltd./Virgin Records Ltd.
“Morrison’s Jig/Liberty,” performed by Mariano De Simone
“Báidin Fheidhlimi,” traditional, performed by Bono, Bono appears courtesy of Universal Music BV
“Cantata,” arranged and performed by Jeff Atmajian
“Devil’s Tap Dance,” performed by Vittorio Schiboni, Massimo Giuntini, Rodrigo D’Erasmo, Mariano De Simone
“Gospel Train,” arranged and performed by The Silver Leaf Quartet, produced and recorded by Alan Lomax, courtesy of The Alan Lomax archives/Rounder Records
“Uncle Tom’s Religion,” performed by Francesco Moneti
“Late at Midnight, Just a Little ‘Fore Day,” written by Othar Turner, performed by Fife and Drum Band, courtesy of HighTone Records
“Garry Owens Jig,” performed by Anna De Luca, Alessandro Bruccoleri and Giuseppe Salvagni
"Kerry Slides," arranged by Paddy Molone, performed by The Chieftains, courtesy of Claddagh Records.
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SONGS
“Koukou Frappe,” written and performed by Badara Ndiaya
“Lament for the Dead of the North,” written and performed by Davy Spillane, courtesy of Nigel Rolfe/Real World Records
“Lily Bell Quickstep,” written by G. W. E. Friedrich, performed by Beatrice Pradella, Marco Libanori and Angelo Giuliani
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SONGS
“Koukou Frappe,” written and performed by Badara Ndiaya
“Lament for the Dead of the North,” written and performed by Davy Spillane, courtesy of Nigel Rolfe/Real World Records
“Lily Bell Quickstep,” written by G. W. E. Friedrich, performed by Beatrice Pradella, Marco Libanori and Angelo Giuliani
“The White Cockade,” performed by Franco D’Aniello, Maro Libanori and Angelo Giuliani
“New Careless Love,” arranged and performed by Sonny Terry, recorded by Alan Lomax, courtesy of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“Unconstant Lover,” performed by Maura O’Connell
“Last Rose of Summer,” traditional, Music Box Recording courtesy of Dinah Voorhies
“Dan Tucker,” traditional, performed by Nathan Frazier & Frank Patterson, courtesy of Rounder Records
“New York Girls,” vocal performance by Finbar Furey, Finbar Fury appears courtesy of Rough Diamond
“Lament for Staker Wallace,” arranged and performed by Eileen Ivers, courtesty of Green Linnet Records, Inc.
“Breakaway,” arranged and performed by Sidney Stripling, recorded by John Work, courtesty of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“Pakwach Acholi Bwala Dance,” written and recorded by David Fanshawe, courtesy of Nonesuch Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Paddy’s Lamentation,” traditional, arranged and performed by Linda Thompson and Teddy Thompson, Linda Thompson appears courtesy of Rounder Records
“Paddy’s Lamentation,” traditional, arranged by Paddy Moloney, performed by Mary Black, courtesy of Wicklow Enterprises under license from BMG Special Products, Inc.
“Pigeon on the Gate,” performed by Dan Costesu
“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” arranged and performed by Piergiorgio Ambrosi
“Massa Juba,” performed by Mariano De Simone, Beatrice Pradella, Alessandro Bruccolcri and Lauren Weiss
“Belle of the Mohawk Vale,” performed by Franco D’Aniello, Marco Libanori and Angelo Giuliani
“Devil Amongst the Tailors,” performed by Vittorio Schiboni, Massimo Giuatini, Rodrigo D’Erasmo and Mariano De Simone
“Durgen Chugaa,” traditional, arranged by Boris Salchak, performed by Shu-De, courtesy of Real World Records Ltd./Narada Productions, Inc.
“Chilumi,” written and performed by Dr. Hukwe Zawose, courtesy of Real World Records, Inc.
“Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah,” arranged by George Spangler and Congregation of Thornton Regular Baptist Church (Mayking, KY), sung by Ike Caudill and congregation of the Mt. Olivet Old Regular Baptist Church, produced and recorded by Alan Lomax, courtesy of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“Beijing Opera Music,” written by Hong-Qi Zhang and Da-Can Chen, produced and arranged by Anxi Jiang
“Leaving Home,” written by Hong-Qi Zhang, vocals by Ke-Wei Zhang, produced and arranged by Anxi Jiang
“Dionysus,” written and performed by Jocelyn Pook, courtesy of Real Worlds Records Ltd./Narada Productions, Inc.
“The Murderer’s Home,” written by Alan Lomax, performed by Jimpson & Group, produced and recorded by Alan Lomax, courtesy of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“Vows,” written by Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning, peformed by Jeff Johnson, Brian Dunning, John Fitzpatrick, Gregg Williams & Tim Ellis, courtesy of Ark Records
"Hallelujah/Amazing Grace," arranged by Alabama Sacred Heart, led by Miss Malden, courtesy of The Alan Lomax Archives/Rounder Records
“The Hands that Built America (Theme from Gangs of New York ),” written and performed by U2, featuring Sharon Corr, violin and Andrea Corr, tin whistle, produced by The Edge, engineered and mixed by Carl Glanville, assisted by Chris Heaney, string arrangement by The Edge, live strings conducted by Daragh O’Toole, violins by Katie O’Connor and Una O’Kane, viola by Rosie Nic Athlaioch, cello by Emer O’Grady, Sharon and Andrea Corr appear courtesy of Atlantic Records Inc., U2 appear courtesy of Universal Music BV, published by Universal Music Publishing BV except Blue Mountain Music Ltd (UK) and Mother Music (IRL).
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DETAILS
Release Date:
20 December 2002
Production Date:
18 December 2000--30 March 2001 at Cinecittà Studios, Rome, Italy
addl seq shot at Silvercup Studios, Astoria, NY
Copyright Claimant:
Miramax Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
2002
Copyright Number:
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital; SDDS Sony Digital Dynamic Sound; dts Digital Sound in selected theatres
Color
Technicolor; Originated on Kodak Motion Picture Film
gauge
Super 35mm
Widescreen/ratio
2.35:1
Duration(in mins):
165 or 168
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
Italy, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
39027
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1846 New York, “Priest” Vallon is watched by his young son as he prepares to lead his gang of Irish immigrants, known as the Dead Rabbits, into battle against a gang of “Nativist” Americans. The Nativists are led by the bloodthirsty Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, who hopes to oust the Irish from the “Five Points” area of New York City, which he believes should remain under the control of native-born Americans. Priest is determined to obtain a peaceful existence for the immigrants, who have been harrassed by the Nativists and live in slum-like conditions. During the battle, which the Nativists win, Bill mortally wounds Priest, and his son rushes to his side. At Priest’s request, Bill delivers the final blow, then orders his men to apprehend the crying child and send him to an orphanage. Sixteen years later, after living at the Hellgate House of Reform, Priest’s son, now a sturdy young man, is released and returns to “Paradise Square” in the Five Points. Although he tries to conceal his identity, he is recognized by Johnny Sirocco, who attempted to help him escape after Priest was killed. Johnny, who now must pay tribute to Bill, along with the other Irish gang members, entices his friend into entering a burning house to loot it, and he saves Johnny’s life by dragging him from the collapsing building. As he is exiting, young Vallon is devastated to see Bill, who is there with Tammany Hall politician William Marcy “Boss” Tweed and other volunteer firefighters. The young Irishman soon learns that New York is a city divided, with rampant political corruption, mostly controlled by Bill and Tweed. Bill despises the immigrants, although ... +


In 1846 New York, “Priest” Vallon is watched by his young son as he prepares to lead his gang of Irish immigrants, known as the Dead Rabbits, into battle against a gang of “Nativist” Americans. The Nativists are led by the bloodthirsty Bill “The Butcher” Cutting, who hopes to oust the Irish from the “Five Points” area of New York City, which he believes should remain under the control of native-born Americans. Priest is determined to obtain a peaceful existence for the immigrants, who have been harrassed by the Nativists and live in slum-like conditions. During the battle, which the Nativists win, Bill mortally wounds Priest, and his son rushes to his side. At Priest’s request, Bill delivers the final blow, then orders his men to apprehend the crying child and send him to an orphanage. Sixteen years later, after living at the Hellgate House of Reform, Priest’s son, now a sturdy young man, is released and returns to “Paradise Square” in the Five Points. Although he tries to conceal his identity, he is recognized by Johnny Sirocco, who attempted to help him escape after Priest was killed. Johnny, who now must pay tribute to Bill, along with the other Irish gang members, entices his friend into entering a burning house to loot it, and he saves Johnny’s life by dragging him from the collapsing building. As he is exiting, young Vallon is devastated to see Bill, who is there with Tammany Hall politician William Marcy “Boss” Tweed and other volunteer firefighters. The young Irishman soon learns that New York is a city divided, with rampant political corruption, mostly controlled by Bill and Tweed. Bill despises the immigrants, although Tweed tries to persuade him that they, and their votes, are New York’s future. Later, when Johnny takes young Vallon to meet Bill, the Irishman introduces himself simply as “Amsterdam,” and Bill does not recognize him as Priest’s son. Wanting to test the youths, Bill then sends them to rob a boat quarantined in the harbor. Upon arriving at the boat, Amsterdam and his men discover that a rival gang has stripped the vessel and killed the crew, but the enterprising Amsterdam takes a body and sells it to a medical school. Impressed by Amsterdam’s ingenuity, fighting skills and education, Bill embraces him as his protégé, little suspecting that the younger man intends to kill him during the annual commemoration of his defeat of Priest. As time passes, Amsterdam becomes attached to the charismatic Bill, despite his desire for revenge, and even learns from Bill, who enjoys butchering meat, how to use a knife for the most effective kill or devastating wound. Amsterdam also finds himself attracted to Jenny Everdeane, an independent Irish pickpocket who has an enigmatic connection to Bill. One day, Tweed and Bill decide that in order to stem growing concern on the part of well-to-do reformers, four men should be hanged in the Five Points to prove that law and order still prevails. At the hanging, Amsterdam is deeply moved by the sight of a young boy watching his father die. That night, Jenny chooses Amsterdam to dance at an event sponsored by the Protestant mission. Later, they are outside making love when Amsterdam notices a long scar on Jenny’s belly, which she explains came when a baby was cut out of her. Amsterdam also spots a locket he knows was purchased by Bill, and when Jenny refuses to explain why Bill gave it to her, the young Irishman angrily rejects her. Soon after, Amsterdam and Bill attend a presentation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin , and the racist Bill, who loathes Lincoln and the Union cause, leads the audience in throwing vegetables at the actors. Suddenly, someone shoots Bill in the shoulder, but Amsterdam, almost despite himself, saves Bill from serious harm and captures the assailant. That night, after a party celebrating Bill’s survival, Amsterdam finds that he can no longer fight his attraction to Jenny, and the couple give in to their feelings for each other. Amsterdam is awakened by a restless Bill, who relates how he once fought Priest in a ferocious fistfight. Although he was clearly the winner, Priest did not kill Bill, who could not look him in the eye out of shame. Bill then cut out his own left eye and sent it to Priest, whom he calls “the only man I ever killed worth remembering.” After Bill departs, Jenny explains to Amsterdam that Bill took her in when she was a homeless twelve-year-old, but that after she became pregnant by him and her baby was cut out, he was no longer romantically interested in her. Although Jenny emphasizes that Bill never touched her until she asked him to, Amsterdam is still distressed. On the night of the sixteenth anniversary of Bill’s victory over Priest, Johnny, who is jealous that Jenny chose Amsterdam over him, reveals to Bill Amsterdam’s identity and plans for revenge. At the celebration, Bill taunts Amsterdam by almost killing Jenny during a display of knife throwing, then, when the young man attempts to murder him, overcomes him. Bill does not kill Amsterdam, however, preferring to scar his face and force him to live with the shame of his defeat. Undeterred, and spurred on by Walter “Monk” McGinn, who fought with his father, Amsterdam revives the Dead Rabbits. Bill sends Happy Jack Mulranney, once a member of the Dead Rabbits but now a policeman, to murder Amsterdam, but instead Amsterdam kills him and strings him up in the square as a warning to Bill. In return, Bill tortures Johnny, who had confessed his betrayal to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam is forced to kill Johnny to end his suffering. Realizing how influential Amsterdam is becoming, Tweed approaches him, offering to ally with him against Bill if he will rally the Irish to vote for Tammany. Amsterdam agrees to the deal, providing that Tweed backs Monk in the upcoming election for sheriff. With Tweed and Amsterdam’s support, Monk wins, much to the chagrin of Bill. Bill attempts to challenge Monk to a duel, but when Monk publicly declines, embarrassing Bill, Bill murders him in cold blood. As Monk’s body is carried through the Five Points, Amsterdam challenges Bill to a fight to determine control of the territory. Meanwhile, the first draft is instituted by the Union, which desperately needs soldiers. The poorer citizens of New York are outraged by an exemption to the draft, allowing those who can pay three hundred dollars to be released from their obligations. On the day the first draftees are called, a small riot breaks out, but wealthy New Yorkers believe that it will be short-lived. The poor continue to organize the next day, however, while Amsterdam, Bill and their men prepare to fight. Jenny, who has decided to escape the bloodshed by moving to San Francisco, is caught up in the riots as people swarm the streets, attacking blacks, police and the rich. Just as the battle in the Five Points is beginning, Union soldiers enter the city and ships in the harbor begin shelling the area. Many of the gang members are killed by the shelling, although Amsterdam and Bill continue to fight. Finally, Bill is wounded by a shell fragment, and the two men kneel in the blood-covered street. Surveying the damage to the square, Bill states, “Thank God I die a true American,” and the infuriated Amsterdam kills him with the knife Bill used to slay his father. Jenny makes her way back to the Five Points and finds Amsterdam, and the couple survives the next four days and nights, during which the riots are quelled. Eventually, Bill is buried next to Priest, and as New York City continues to grow and change, their graves deteriorate and are forgotten. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.