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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gandhi (1982)


His Triumph Changed The World Forever.


Gandhi is a 1982 biographical film about Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, who led the nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in India during the first half of the 20th century. The film was directed by Richard Attenborough and stars Ben Kingsley as Gandhi; both won Academy Awards for their work on the film. The film was also given the Academy Award for Best Picture and won eight Academy Awards in total.

It was an international co-production between production companies in India and the UK. The film premiered in New Delhi on November 30, 1982.


The film opens with a statement from the filmmakers explaining their approach to the problem of filming Gandhi's complex life story:

No man's life can be encompassed in one telling... least of all Gandhi's, whose passage through life was so entwined with his nation's struggle for freedom. There is no way to give each event its allotted weight, to recount the deeds and sacrifices of all the great men and women to whom he and India owe such immense debts. What can be done is to be faithful in spirit to the record of his journey, and to try to find one's way to the heart of the man...
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Review by Barron Laycock

This movie was the realization of a lifetime dream for Sir Richard Attenborough, who finally succeeded in bringing this incredible spectacular to theatrical release in 1982. I was living outside London working for the American Forces in the greater London area at the time, so was thrilled to have the privilege to see this movie in its limited initial release in Britain, and was amazed by its scope, accuracy and integrity in bringing the quite controversial facts surrounding Gandhi's life and politically-motivated assassination to the screen. Ben Kingsley is simply magnificent as the diminutive, principled, and indefatiguable lawyer, humanitarian, and citizen of the world with an uncannily prescient feel for what was possible for a determined and energetic person as well as how to achieve his lofty otherworldly goals right here on earth.

Based on his appraoch here, Attenborough seems to have learned much from such masterful British film-makers as David Lean, for the use of scenery, topography, and natural surrounding of the characters as they wind through the more than 40 years of story line is breath-taking. His methods owe much to the kind of subtle insinuation of the local environment David Lean in particular used so memorably in movies like "Bridge Over The River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia" (see my reviews) in making the scenery more than an incidental player in the storyline. Seeing Gandhi immersed in the incredible multidimensional diversities that were (and are) India helps the viewer as we begin to understand just how incredible his efforts were to unite the country with his strange yet irresistible moral authority, an authority that all of the various factions recognized and respected as the authentic thing.

There is, of course, an immensely talented cast, including Martin Sheen as an American newspaper correspondent who becomes intrigued by Gandhi's profound and surprisingly effective non-violent approach to social change. Gandhi's approach to using reason and morality to approach issues and perspectives, and these methods become the real star of the film as it builds slowly over the scope of this very literate and intelligent script. This is a wonderful motion picture experience for anyone willing to sit through the more than three hour extravaganza, one that guarantees Attenborough's prominent place in film history, and one that leaves this reviewer smacking his lips in anticipation of whatever other wonderful effort such as this may someday appear based on Attenborough's talents, visions, and moral sensibilities. Enjoy!



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