Critic Reviews



Based on 16 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
What is important about this film is not that it serves as a history lesson (although it does) but that, at a time when the threat of nuclear holocaust hangs ominously in the air, it reminds us that we are, after all, human, and thus capable of the most extraordinary and wonderful achievements, simply through the use of our imagination, our will, and our sense of right.
Attenborough's stately film is in every sense of the word an epic and Ben Kingsley is superb as Mahatma Ghandi, aging as he does 50 years during the three-hour film, and transforming from dapper young lawyer to loin-cloth wearing ascetic.
Once in a long while a motion picture so eloquently expressive and technically exquisite comes along that one is tempted to hail it as being near perfect. Such a film is Gandhi.
With the help of his cinematographers, Billy Williams and Ronnie Taylor, Attenborough has produced a very beautiful-looking movie that is maybe a little too seductive for its own good. But Attenborough shows once again his skill in managing the big set-piece.
Yes, Gandhi is a hagiography and not a nuanced, darkly shaded, or even very convincing portrait of an ambitious and deeply strange man. And as an account of the muddled, messy origins of Indian independence, the film is guilty of historical malpractice. But taken as a black-and-white morality play, Gandhi is unmatched. Simplifications and all, this is the movie my parents wanted me to see as a child—and it's the movie I'd want my own (purely theoretical) children to see as well.
Time Out
Of course the film raises more questions than it comes near to answering, but its faults rather pale beside the epic nature of its theme, and Kingsley's performance in the central role is outstanding.
Neither Mr. Attenborough nor John Briley, who wrote the screenplay, are particularly adventurous filmmakers. Yet in some ways their almost obsessively middle-brow approach—their fondness for the gestures of conventional biographical cinema—seems self-effacing in a fashion suitable to the subject. Since Roberto Rossellini is not around to examine Gandhi in a film that would itself reflect the rigorous self-denial of the man, this very ordinary style is probably best.
Grand in scope, the best thing here is still Sir Ben Kingsley's central performance; the film will always deserve to be seen for this alone.
Despite an intelligent title performance by Ben Kingsley and impressive cinematography in the manner of David Lean, this huge, clunky biopic offers less than meets the eye. Director Attenborough seeks not to understand but to canonize his subject; as a result, both Gandhi's teachings and the complexities of Indian political history are distorted and trivialized.
Slant Magazine
Though Kingsley’s saturnine poise is much more interesting in roles which call for varying degrees of slipperiness, he nevertheless manages to bring shades into the inherently monochromatic saintliness of the role with life-sized, profoundly felt gravity and dignity, all while executing that marvelous, peculiarly British trick (remember Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips) of seeming to age from within.

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