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
"Gandhi" won a total of nine 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 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 Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, 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 and eleven minutes 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.
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 DVD is pretty good, Columbia Tri-Star hasn't gone whole hog on the
package the way it did with the Lean epics "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge
on the River Kwai." The film itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen,
16x9 TV compatible (which is the way Columbia Tristar almost always releases
its widescreen movies - much to the delight of those with widescreen TV's),
and the audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1 (though there isn't very much surround).
The picture quality is excellent, and the audio quality is very good.
The DVD case has a special translucent plastic sleeve that, unfortunately,
makes reading the text on it very difficult. Fortunately, there are plenty
of extras included with the disc, though it's only a single disc collection.
The extras include an interview with Ben Kingsley that includes his memories
of the production, including insights into the behind-the-scenes workings
and his own feelings about working alongside such British acting giants
as Sirs John Gielgud, John Mills, Trevor Howard, etc. There's also a collection
of period newsreels, including one of the real Mr. Gandhi. You also get
a photo montage of "the Making of Gandhi," filmographies, production notes,
and yet another fancy animated menu that slows down disc access - though
to be fair this one isn't nearly as bad as many.
In all, a fine addition to the library of any movie lover or history
Gandhi, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
191 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
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.
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