Gandhi (1982)

Directed by Richard Attenborough
Written by John Briley

The life of M.K. Gandhi is known throughout the world, at least in parts. Not every detail and every moment in the mans life is known, and as much is said at the very beginning of this epic 1982 biopic that won 8 Academy Awards that year. The pre-text to the film stated that it is impossible to fully know someone, but in collecting as much information as possible, it was possible to capture the heart and passion. Or something completely different, I don’t remember the exact words. But with a film like this, director Richard Attenborough is able to capture the life and heart of Gandhi in the most reverent and appreciative way.

M.K. Gandhi began his professional career as a lawyer, in fact a lawyer in South Africa. It was in South Africa where his mission first began. He fought against the British government, fighting for equal rights for Indians in South Africa. It was here that he gained the experience of non-violent resistance and pubic speaking which would make him one of the most important figured of the 20th century and perhaps the history of the world. Moving on to what he is best known for, Gandhi went to India and helped gain India her independence from the British Empire. And even after that, he helped gain peace between Muslim Pakistan and Hindu India. His accomplishments and nature cannot be commended enough.

What is also commendable, and easily the most obvious thing to talk about first is Ben Kingsley. Kingsley had the honor of portraying M.K. Gandhi, and he did him justice, delivering a performance that in every way reflected Gandhi’s compassion, determination, courage, and grace of nature with which he passed through this world. It is truly one of the greatest performances I have seen, and what is more, his fellow Indian supporting cast, as Kingsley, while British, is of Indian heritage, his supporting cast delivers great performances as well.

The direction is pretty much exactly what it needs to be: straight forward. Attenborough did not seem to take many risks and did not try to do anything too flashy, and flashy was not Gandhi’s style, so why should it be Attenborough’s? This is the type of story that almost tells itself, but it needed a steady hand to deliver it and scenes like the speech in South Africa in the meeting hall and the massacre scene are astoundingly brilliant. In addition, the cinematography is worth mentioning as being stirringly beautiful. It captures the epic, important and beautiful life of Gandhi.

The film may be overly long, passing three hours, but Gandhi did so much with his life. It may seem much like a history program at times, but Gandhi was making history. There is nothing remarkable about the film, except that it is about Gandhi, and Gandhi was a remarkable human being who left a lasting impact on this Earth and such a film does a great job of depicting that importance. For that reason, and for the performance of Ben Kingsley, this film is remarkable.

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