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"The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived, without
wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma
was not the commander of armies, nor the ruler of vast lands. He could
boast any scientific achievement or artistic gift. Yet men, governments,
dignitaries from all over the world, have joined hands today to pay homage
to the little brown man in the loin cloth, who led his country to
This quote is from the funeral scene in the 1982 film "Gandhi". Richard Attenborough directed this massive epic about the man that freed India. The film opens with Gandhi's assassination. The next scene, his funeral, is one of the greatest scenes in cinematic history. Attenborough managed to recreate Gandhi's funeral on January 31st, 1981, the 33rd anniversary of the actual funeral. It is estimated that nearly 400,000 people were on hand to be a part of the filming the recreation. This film was made before CGI (computer generated images), so the funeral scene is probably the last live action crowd of that magnitude that will ever be filmed.
Mahatma Gandhi's message of non-violent resistance is delivered in an interesting and enthralling body of art. This film has made and will make millions of people aware of the little brown man that took on the British Empire and won. "Gandhi" serves both as entertainment and an important historical record of one of the most important figures in history.
Ben Kingsley played Gandhi. He was the perfect for the role. He resembled the real Gandhi. He was young enough to portray Gandhi as a young man. He is a British actor that nailed the British influenced Indian accent. He is a wonderful actor that was patient and humble with such an important part. And he was a relatively unknown actor at the time, so the "big-time actor" persona did not get in the way of viewing the film. He did win both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best actor, for this role, which I agree he deserved. He became Gandhi.
The cinematography was outstanding. Attenborough filmed "Gandhi" on location in India. The scenes of India are spectacular, and India is very much another character in the film. This film is as much about India itself as it is about Gandhi. Attenborough shows the audience the people of India from its countryside to the vast city of Calcutta. It is suggested by Kingsley, on the DVD, that Attenborough had a difficult time with the elite class in India at the time of filming. They were against the making of such a film by an Englishman. Undeterred by their negative thinking, he persevered to enlist thousands of Indians to help make this film. Every crowd scene, he used real Indians from the area. Attenborough also won both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for best direction.
This movie is a must see for everyone. It should be required viewing in high schools, as part of History class. The fight against prejudice will forever be relevant. It is also a beautiful work of art. This movie is not tainted by the embellishment of Hollywood (see "Pearl Harbor" for that). Of course, it would have been hard to screw up a movie about such a great man. 10/10
As soon as I finished watching Gandhi, I thought to myself "This movie had to have won Best Picture." I think it's one of the best epics of all time. It masterfully tells one of the most important stories of the 20th century, that of India's struggle to free itself, spearheaded by one of the most extraordinary men of all time, Mahatma Gandhi. I would be hard pressed to name anything lacking about it. Direction, cinematography, costumes, they're all great. And Ben Kingsley! Without a doubt his portrayal of Gandhi is one of the best performances of his career, if not THE best. Playing the pacifist Indian lawyer-turned-leader couldn't have been an easy task, and I don't think anyone could have pulled it off as well as he did. This movie deserves all the praise anyone gives it and more. Excellent.
Very, VERY few films have had the distinct ability to move and inspire me to
the point where the effect is almost life-altering. "Gandhi" - the
unbelievable, first-rate biopic on the historical figure - is truly one of
those films, no question whatsoever. An unsurprising sweep for the 1983
Academy Awards, this is without a doubt one of the last real "epic" motion
Chronicling the rich, unforgettable life of a one Mohandas K. "Mahatma" Gandhi - played to shocking perfection by the wonderful Sir Ben Kingsley - this is a film that I can say really, deeply affected me with its power, its scale, and of course, its timeless message of love and non-violence. As a matter of fact, ever since I first saw the film, and became much more aware of the back story, I can also say that Gandhi is now one of my biggest role models in life. I cannot fully express how much this great man's way of thinking - his words, his struggles, his accomplishments - has affected my own, for I am now a practicing pacifist. I am a firm believer in the value of non-violent protest, and have tried my best to apply that philosophy to most situations in my life. It has worked wonders for me, and has really changed how I view the world in terms of human nature and so forth. Like I said, VERY few films can do something like that to me.
Here indeed is one of the great films of the 20th Century about one of the greatest men of the 20th Century. Ben Kingsley's interpretation of the Mahatma must go down in history as one of the most perfect cinema rôles ever carried out. Throughout the long film you forget you are watching an actor playing the part of a great man in history: you are watching the real Gandhi. A gigantic performance indeed. Richard Attenborough's patient and perfect directing added all the superlatives possible to make a crowning achievement, transporting biographic films into another dimension.
It is all there: from the most intimate and poignant portrait to the incredible crowd scenes, beautifully captured in the most painstaking photography. You do not just watch the scenes unfold you live them, you feel them, so captivating they are; and Ravi Shankar's music tugs at you, spellbinds you, forces you into sympathy, admiration and so many other feelings.
Enthralling: how such a cinematographic work of art can reach such proportions is truly amazing; this film is nothing less than a miracle. During 1971 I travelled a good bit around India; I constantly had to apologise to energetic Indians who approached me on the subject of the British Raj. I had not even been born. But as a young and unappointed ambassador, I felt it my duty to bow my head in that country which is a microcosm of the whole planet. Thanks to this film, `Gandhi', Attenborough and Kingsley have said just about all there was to say.
< For men may come and men may go, but Gandhi goes on forever >
This is one that absolutely must go on everyone's "must see" list. One of
the truly greatest movies ever made. For those who found it "boring" or "too
long," you folks need to just stick to stuff like "Star Wars," "Terminator,"
"Spiderman," or perhaps reality TV would be more your cup of
For those who like to actually see real human history come to life on the screen, "Gandhi" is a true masterpiece for all times. A excellent summary of one of the greatest and most interesting lives of the 20th. century!
I find it odd that aside from a fine performance in "Shindler's List," that Ben Kingsley has really been a major disappointment as an actor following his role as "Gandhi." Perhaps like George C. Scott in "Patton," he was destined to play just one truly great role as an actor. And this was it!
For those who keep mentioning that Kingsley is "English," well, yes he is, but he is also "Anglo-Indian." His father is from India. In fact his father was born in the same small sea-coast town as Mahatma Gandhi! While filming the movie in the small towns of rural India, there were those older people who actually remembered seeing the original Gandhi who collapsed in shock when they saw Kingsley in his makeup. Hundreds became convinced that he actually was the Mahatma, returned! Also interesting is that Kingsley was born just after the asassination of Gandhi. I mean that's just a tad spooky, no....?
Picture this. Gandhiji walks in a court, accused of influencing the
people and starting a movement, the Non Cooperation movement,
immediately after Gandhiji broke the fast he started to curb the
movement which had assumed violence after Chauri Chora. We walks in
alone, unescorted and as soon as he walks in there is an unexplainable
silence in the court, and to everyone's surprise the Judge, stands up
in respect of the accused ! Seeing him do this the barristers and rest
also stand up. This scene though may seem insignificant on paper is one
without which this entire movie would have been incomplete. To know
read on !
On day of 2nd October they play this movie every year on DD National, Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. I never watched it whenever it was shown since 20 years of 2nd Octobers I had seen. The first few years because I couldn't understand and the next few because I felt that though it's a multiple Oscar winner, how could at the end of the day, a British person understand and do justice to an Indian icon ? After so many years I finally broke the ice and saw the movie in totality right from the first scene of Nathuram Godse, to Hey Ram, and I understood that Gandhi was as British, as much a part of Britain's history as he was of India's, in fact an outsider judged the person better than we ourselves could, hence without doubt this is a masterpiece, because it was always meant to be.
Richard Attenborough like all directors worth their salt uses visual aid as a medium to replace conventional dialogue delivery at times. A picture is worth a thousand words and a scene without words is worth a million. Like the first scene I described and others. In one scene towards the end of the movie, Gandhiji starts a fast until death to stop the communal riots post independence and Nehru goes to meet him. A crowd had gathered near his residence and one of the person in the crowd shouted a suggestion, 'Why don't they kill Gandhi ?', Nehru furiously jumps into the crowd to search for this person and the camera moves in the crowd and for a briefest time and quite unmistakably you spot Nathuram Godse in the crowd. This made me think, 'hey this is what I call good cinema!'.
So what about the outsider theory ? Well you see if Rajkumar Santoshi, Yash Chopra, Raj Kapoor or Mani Ratnam had made this movie they would have fallen under the pressure and the unbearably weight of historical facts, Richard had that advantage. Someone quite ignorant about Indian culture was telling a story of an Indian to an audience even more ignorant. What I mean is that there are things which are skewed up, characters gone wrong and famous words mouthed by someone else. For example the writer has messed the character of the Patel Siblings. Vallabhbhai Patel was never an extrovert and never as polished as shown in the movie, but someone else was and it was his more Birtish, yet less famous elder brother Vithalbhai who in fact introduced Vallabh to Indian movement. Again it is a known fact that Vallabhai continued the Dandi march after Gandhi's arrest, the fact which is ignored. Once again the characters of Kriplani, Maulana Azad etc are all skewed. But at the end of it works, why, because Richard's view is focused. I would notice these mistakes because I am an Indian aware of this, a person in England may never find out and even if he does he would consider it as trivial because this is a story of Gandhi and not the Indian freedom struggle. People say that unnecessary importance is given to foreign characters in Gandhi's life like Margret, Rev. Charlie, Walker, Miraben, but I would say it is necessary because these people did influence Gandhi and made him an international personality which he is.
But before I end my take on this movie I must comment on the characterization. Starting with Ben Kinsley as Gandhi. To tell you the truth when I first saw him as Mohandas KG in the train I was shocked, he didn't look like Gandhi which I imagined, but as the movie goes ahead I changed my opinion. Ben worked because of multiple reasons. The first he is a British Gujarati, Gandhi was gujarati who did his law in England so both speak the same language, Partly British English with unmistakable Gujarati overtones. Second all other characterization of Gandhis in the history are shown as fragile creatures without clothes. Ben did carry some more body than others and which made Gandhi look more real , more alive. Also he had an infectious little smile which works because Gandhi in many was a jovial happy person who smiled a lot , a kind smile of calm which no one but Ben Kinsley brought out ! Of the other characters, Martin Sheen as Walker was impressive, so were Lord Erwin, Gen Dyer, Margrets, Nehru and Miraben's characters. Rohini Hattangidi as Kasturba does a remarkable job too, though she was shown a little more extroverted than Kasturba was , maybe.
As a whole to sum it up, this is one hell of a beautiful movie experience. If you missed it this 2nd October don't forget to tune into it the next.
Thinking back, I suppose I have now seen many (sometimes good) films that
follow the same recipe: One man makes a difference.
But this film is an exception in so many ways:
1) It was made in 1982, so it came before many of them.
2) It has amazingly well-displayed historical significance.
3) Great performances in a near-flawless, frank scrpit.
This film does not bother the viewer with an opening montage of scenes of the main character at various ages ("Dragon", I'm looking at you). This is an amazing film that anyone of any religion, race, or nationality can and should appreciate. With its subtle relevance to today's situations in that part of the world, this is a history buff must-see.
Watch this film and see great performances (an obvious oscar went to Ben Kingsly), excellent cinematography, and a wonderful inspiring story, whose essence soars well above the corny, do-gooder mentality of other pitiful efforts of "bio-pics".
In her diary entry of Saturday, February 27, 1943, Anne Frank wrote in
passing (translated from the Dutch): "The freedom-loving Gandhi of India is
holding his umpteenth fast."
It's a comment at once mildly comical and respectfully admiring, one I think the Mahatma would have appreciated with a twinkle and a laugh. He and Miss Frank are linked with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., as the civil rights spokesperson-giants of the 20th century. And civil rights, and the reversal of the institutionalized violation of the same, are a large part of what the last century's politics were all about. Movie viewers are apt to find in the diary remark a distillation of their experience of the Richard Attenborough film. A recommendation is that it be followed by rentals of Saving Private Ryan and The Long Walk Home, which together convey the investment put into the respective causes the trio represented.
At the beginning of Gandhi we confront these words: "No man's life can be encompassed in one telling. There is no way to give each year its allotted weight, to include each event, each person who helped to shape a lifetime. What can be done is to be faithful in spirit to the record, and to try to find one's way to the heart of the man...."
John Briley's screenplay accomplishes that faithfulness, and one probably has to be a scholar of the subject to sort out what is his and what is Gandhi's. Not that it really is of relevance, given what we learn from the movie about the value of eclecticism. Looking out over the bay at Porbandar, Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) tells Walker (Martin Sheen): "The temple where you were yesterday is of my family's sect, the Pranami. It was Hindu of course, but the priests used to read from the Muslim Koran and the Hindu Gita, moving from one to the other as though it mattered not at all which book was read as long as God was worshipped." In a preceding scene, similarly, confronted by young toughs on a South African street, Gandhi defends for his Christian friend Charlie (Ian Charleson) the New Testament intelligence of turning the other cheek. A worried Charlie states, "I think perhaps the phrase was used metaphorically. I don't think our Lord meant...," and is interrupted by a movie shot of the approaching menace. Gandhi replies calmly, "I'm not so certain. I have thought about it a great deal. I suspect he meant you must show courage--be willing to take a blow--several blows--to show you will not strike back--nor will you be turned aside.... And when you do that it calls upon something...that makes...hate for you diminish and...respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I...have seen it work."
The script is replete with these kinds of memorable words, and with others that reflect its subject's political acumen and strategical cleverness.
Kingsley is sublime in the lead role. Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, and Alyque Padamsee do well as Gandhi's pro-independence collaborators. Ditto, Athol Fugard ("Assuming we are in agreement?") and John Gielgud ("Salt?") as two of his adversaries. Charleson, in his clerical collar, looks like he has walked in off the set of the preceding year's Academy Award winner, Chariots of Fire (where he played the Scottish sprinter-missionary, Eric Liddell).
This movie won eight Oscars, with Attenborough, Briley, and Kingsley all earning honors. No other film biography I ever have seen works so well. It will stand the test of time and inform multiple generations. One doubts remakes will be necessary.
The life of the legendary man from India (dominant Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley, who was a total unknown theatrical newcomer at the time) who gave up work as an attorney to defy British rule throughout the first half of the 20th Century before falling to an assassin's bullet in 1948. Long, opulent, breath-taking and completely memorable take on one of the most important historical figures the world has ever known. Oscar-winning director Richard Attenborough obviously studied David Lean's epic film-making masterpieces from the 1950s and 1960s as we have similarities galore with "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and much more importantly "Lawrence of Arabia". An all-star cast of very old-time Hollywood legends (John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills) and relative newcomers who were on the rise (Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Edward Fox, Nigel Hawthorne and a super quick glance of a very young Daniel Day-Lewis) blend in a desert landscape of cinematic brilliance. Make no mistake of it though, "Gandhi" works because of Kingsley as he weaves a colorful tapestry of cinematic performing ungodliness with a totally convincing take on his role and the complex subject matter. Running nearly 190 minutes, "Gandhi" still just uses flash-points to under-score the importance and significance of the major topics within. Those familiar with advanced world history will likely get more out of the film, but still a movie whose glitter continues to shine as bright as ever. 5 stars out of 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a sanctimonious air to the films of Sir Richard Samuel
Attenborough: the earnest desire that fair play is seen to be done
Attenborough attempts to humanize his personage by exposing the
widening gaps between India's two main religious communities, but he
seemed to be quite forced to ignore some of the Indian characters in
favor of Western ones, as some of the very important episodes of the
film were seen through the eyes of two American reporters...
Attenborough, a filmmaker who can rival David Lean for the big set piece without losing a sense of human scale, presents the political events with real dramatic impact...His big challenge was to give the film an epic quality Still, while Attenborough's endless seas of extras testify to his ability to order crowds, his fine motion picture was seen very believable and realistic, with enough insight either into its sublimely serene hero's mind or into the complex realities of Indian history and politics
British actor Ben Kingsley portrays the spiritual leader with deep simplicity... Kingsley's Mahatma is amazing, so beautiful in its honesty... Kingsley burns with a strong and purer flame, particularly in the way he ages across the five decades which the film depicts... His wetly blazing eyes as a young lawyer in South Africa, his black hair and immense energy, gives way to the bald small modest man, in shawl, loin cloth, steel-rimmed glasses, frequently thrown in jail by the British authorities...
Kingsley takes the qualities and details instructed by Attenborough: Gandhi's fiercely intelligent aura; Gandhi's rational and calm reaction to inflamed emotion; Gandhi's unshaken beliefs and principles; Gandhi's warm smile...
A distinguished cast of characters surround Academy Award-Winning Ben Kingsley as Gandhi: Candice Bergen, the Life magazine American photographer whom Gandhi conveys with a sense of humor; John Gielgud, the Viceroy who decides to ignore the man in loin cloth; Edward Fox, the brutal English general who orders his troops to fire at the thickest part of the crowds; Trevor Howard, the Judge who behaves with great consideration, standing and nodding respectfully to Gandhi in the dock before taking his seat; Geraldine James, the adopted daughter, blinded by love for Ghandi; and Martin Sheen, the American reporter of the New York Times who makes Gandhi laugh: 'It would be uncivil for us to let you make the long trip for nothing.'
"Gandhi" has a rare combination of deep character penetration and enormous epic sweep with "Lawrence of Arabia." But while 'Lawrence of Arabia' is about a solitary adventurer, 'Gandhi' is a moving portrait of a character with a disarming humility, who spins cotton, walks the country roads, meditates in front of the ocean, or scoops salt from the beach... Throughout the picture, which takes place over a half century, one has a sense of a man discovering his own unique dimensions... Perhaps this is the secret of Attenborough's 'Gandhi,' that at the bottom of all the tumultuous action is a remarkable protagonist, an incredible individual about whom one cares, and feels attract to...
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