Gandhi on Blu-ray disc

"Indian Giver"

1982's "Best Picture" winner takes a reverential look at the life of Mohandas K. Gandhi, the Indian lawyer who fought injustice and was instrumental in helping his homeland break free of its English masters in the late 1940's.

"Gandhi" won a total of eight Oscars, including Best Actor, Director, and Screenplay, and its look and feel are reminiscent of David Lean epics - which is never a bad thing! This is a "big" movie, with thousands of extras, sweeping scenery, and a timeless theme of the triumph of ordinary people with right on their side.

Ben Kingsley deserved his Oscar for his portrayal of the Mahatma over some fifty years. He goes from a relatively obscure young lawyer to a world-renowned figure with strength, courage of his convictions, and a healthy dose of humor. This is really Kingsley's film (well, okay, Richard Attenborough had a bit to do with it as well!), which is as it should be.

Attenborough is obviously a fan of Mr. Gandhi, and after you've seen his biopic it's hard not to be a fan of the little man yourself. He was a true leader in the best sense: he not only saw solutions and strategies, but he lived them himself knowing that his very credibility hung on him leading by example. Therefore, while he could have commanded just about any salary or other arrangement he pleased, he eschewed such in favor of a lifestyle that fit in more with the millions of ordinary Indians for whom he was inspiration.

Are you reading this Barak Obama, Jesse Jackson, Nancy Pelosi, and the rest of the limousine liberal crowd who pretend to represent ordinary people? You espouse Gandhi-like words, but your actions belie them.

Anyway, over the three hours-plus running time of Attenborough's Gandhi, we get a fascinating look at a real giant of a man. Assuming the movie is accurate (one should never really trust Hollywood to get the facts right - though to be fair, this is actually a British film), it should be required viewing in classrooms world wide.

Why? Because it shows the power of ideas, ideals, the power of people. It shows there's reason to hope, if your cause is just, and it shows that you can prevail without lowering yourself to the level of those you oppose. It shows the value of humility, something that's in short supply these days.

Gandhi preached non-violent revolution, and always took responsibility for his words, deeds, and even this thoughts. When he's put on trial for sedition, he freely admits his guilt because under the British law that ruled India at the time he was clearly guilty. It was irrelevant to the British that he was an Indian patriot - and it was British law under which he was being tried. It meant a few years in prison for him, but it also enhanced his credibility with everyone around him, including his political enemies. He also knew that many of these political enemies were just people like him, but working under a system that required them to do the things they did, and that they did them with reluctance.

Even toward the end, when British rule was ending, he sincerely wanted the former rulers to leave as friends and not enemies.

What a guy! Kind of reminds you of the stories we've all heard of Jesus, though if my impressions of Gandhi the man (gleaned, unfortunately, only from this movie) are correct, he would undoubtedly be the first one to shrug off such comparisons.

The Blu-ray is pretty good, Sony hasn't gone whole hog here, but it's a good presentation. The film itself is presented in 1080p widescreen, and the audio is in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (though there isn't very much surround). The picture quality is excellent, with beautiful, mastered images that feature excellent color and good blacks. The audio quality is very good but not spectacular.

The extras on this two disc set include (on disc one) the Blu-ray exclusive Gandhi's Legacy, a picture-in-picture track - as well as a non-anamorphic introduction by Attenborough as well as his director's commentary.

Disc Two features some vintage newsreel footage, Kingsley talking about the production, a selection of various featurettes on various aspects of the production, and a photo montage.

You can also partake of the BD Live feature if you like.

In all, a fine addition to the library of any movie lover or history buff.

Gandhi, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
191 min. 1080p widescreen (2.35:1), , Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Starring Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen
Written by John Briley, produced and directed by Richard Attenborough.

Jim Bray's columns are available from the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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