My Vote For The Best Fim Biography Ever Made!
Barron Laycock | Temple, New Hampshire United States | 08/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
A Great Soul's Life.
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 02/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It all began simple enough - with the purchase of a first class train ticket by Mr. Mohandas Gandhi, Esq., recently arrived in South Africa, and unaware that as an Indian, he was required to travel third class and not entitled to such a ticket. Literally thrown off the train for his transgression, the young attorney, embodied to perfection by Ben Kingsley, spent a full night sitting on the platform, musing how best to respond to such discrimination. Shortly thereafter, and after consultations with established members of his community, he wrote his first treatises and organized his first demonstrations. And when participants of a protest assembly stood up and proclaimed their willingness to die in the fight against suppression, Gandhi once and for all formulated his doctrine of nonviolent protest: "They may torture my body, break my bones; even kill me. Then they will have my dead body - not my obedience."
Shot largely on four Indian locations, Richard Attenborough's nine-time Oscar-winning biography of Gandhi is a sweeping epic that takes the viewer back to Britain's colonial past, covering all major events of Gandhi's political career from its beginnings in South Africa to the March to the Sea and India's independence, and contrasting the luxurious lifestyle of the foreign rulers with the poverty of those they governed; that India which, as Gandhi soon realized, not only the British didn't understand, but whose population also could not have cared less about the activities of the Indian Congress Party, at the time little more than a group of well-to-do city dwellers mentally and socially almost as far removed from the rest of their country as the British. Twenty years in the making, the movie is clearly reverential of Gandhi's genius, and of the man whose symbolic growth was reverse parallel to his retreat into simplicity, and who for that very reason, and because of his unfaltering commitment to nonviolence on the one hand and India's independence on the other hand, accomplished what only few people would otherwise have thought possible: to convince the world's biggest colonial power to give up the crown jewel among its colonies; and to do so in a gesture of friendship and without civil war. The one aspect of Gandhi's life that falls a bit short here is the effect that his overbearing symbolic status had on his family life, which necessarily had to suffer as a result (unable to cope with his father's fame and chosen lifestyle, Gandhi's eldest son, for example, threw himself into a life of alcoholism and prostitution). But Gandhi is not depicted as a saint, and particularly during his early years, we learn about the struggle that went into the formation of the man who later earned the title "Great Soul" (Mahatma). Even anticipating that he might be killed by an assassin's bullet, Gandhi once said that he would only deserve that title if he could accept that bullet with Rama's (God's) name on his lips: fittingly, the movie begins with his assassination and comes full circle at the end, affirming that Gandhi truly was a Great Soul throughout.
Attenborough found his perfect Gandhi in Ben Kingsley, who not so much plays but truly *is* the Mahatma; from his appearance to the inflection of his voice, attitudes and gestures. Over the year-long struggles to finance the movie, Attenborough's first choices for the role had grown too old to convincingly play the young Gandhi in South Africa, but eventually Michael Attenborough pointed his father to Kingsley, then with the Royal Shakespeare Company, who reportedly won the role by meeting Attenborough in full Gandhi makeup at their first get-together, thus instantly convincing him that he had found his man. Yet, despite his gift for mimicry and his part-Indian heritage, Kingsley nevertheless turned to his Indian costars, particularly Rohini Hattangadi, who plays Gandhi's wife Kasturba, to fine-tune his portrayal; and he recalls in an interview for the movie's DVD release that the skill he found the most difficult to master was to spin and to talk at the same time. The use of the actual British newsreels covering Gandhi's visit to England adds to the movie's sense of authenticity - and emphasizes yet again Ben Kingsley's achievement in transforming himself into the Mahatma.
In fact, his awardwinning performance so overshadows every other actor in the movie that it would be easy to overlook the fine performances of his costars, all of whom contributed to the movie's unique quality - to name but a few, Sir John Gielgud, whom Kingsley praises as "a national treasure" (British viceroy Lord Irwin), Roshan Seth (Pandit Nehru), Martin Sheen (NY Times reporter Vincent Walker), Candice Bergen (People Magazine's Margaret Bourke-White), Ian Charleson (Gandhi's early friend and colaborator Reverend Andrews), Edward Fox (General Dyer, the man responsible for the massacre at Amritsar, who testified at his court-martial that his intention had been to "teach a lesson that would be heard throughout India"); and Trevor Howard as Judge Broomfield, who had to sentence Gandhi to prison for his outright admission that he was guilty of the charge of advocating sedition because of his belief "that non-cooperation with evil is a duty and British rule in India is evil," and who nevertheless rose at Gandhi's entrance into the courtroom instead of making the prisoner rise for him, and commented on the sentence he had to impose that "if ... his Majesty's government should, at some later date, see fit to reduce the term, no one will be better pleased than I."
The movie ends with Gandhi's affirmation that when he despaired, he remembered that "all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers; for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of this: Always." Such a belief may be difficult to hold on to, particularly for us who are so much more fallible than the Mahatma. Yet, this movie eloquently pleads that it is, at least, worth our very best effort.
Gandhi An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth
The Essential Gandhi: An Anthology of His Writings on His Life, Work, and Ideas
Gandhi: The Man, His People, and the Empire (Philip E. Lilienthal Book in Asian Studies)
HALFWAY TO FREEDOM In the Words and Pictures of Margaret Bourke-White
The Last Emperor - Criterion Collection
Anne Frank - The Whole Story
Henry David Thoreau : Collected Essays and Poems (Library of America)"
Great Entertainment: Better Teaching Tool
R. Kirkham | Rushville, Illinois USA | 03/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I do not need to elaborate on what a great quality film this is. It has the awards to prove it. Neither do I need to comment on the quality of Gandhi, the man.
BUT I HAVE A GREAT IDEA!
I just watched this film with my Jr. High aged daughter. What an opportunity to show the next generation a hero that changed the world WITHOUT violence!
Don't waste this opportunity. Show this movie to a young person and take time to talk with them about it. My daughter and I got on the web and researched Gandhi's life. The pictures we saw looked much like portions of the movie.
This is certainly a cut above the films we normally watch."
Gandhi Inspires....Attenborough Delivers Excellence
L. Shirley | fountain valley, ca United States | 12/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Students of history and film alike can well appreciate this great piece of filmmaking about a truly great historical figure.
It took Director/Producer Richard Attenborough 20 years to put the life work of Mohandas K. Gandhi on film. The picture among it's many international awards was also winner of 9 well deserved Academy Awards. Among them, Best Picture(1982),Best Actor(Ben Kingsley),Best Cinematography,Best Screnplay, and Best Director.
The "Mahatma"(Great Soul) as Gandhi was called by his followers,devoted his life to secure freedom for the people of his country, India. From the time as a young attorney, traveling through S. Africa, where he was literally thrown off a train due to his race, until his death by assassination,he led his people with hope and strong beliefs.The British Monarch ruled the nation of India, and treated the citizens as second class. Gandhi would change all that through the means of peaceful civil disobedience, often leading to beatings, imprisoment or both for all that particapted in these demonstrations.In one particular case, even more tragic, gunfire was opened on 15,000 men women and children gathered in rally, many were killed.Gandhi's answer was not revenge however, he felt that if "every man took an eye for an eye, the whole world would be blind."
The film also depicts the famous "March to The Sea", when Gandhi led thousands, to show the British that the salt(an important commidity to them) belonged to everyone,the hunger strikes he went on, and finally the respect earned him by even the British.
Reporters from around the world eventually learned of this great man and flocked to get his story.It follows through on the time after India gained it's Independence from England, and began to have civil probelms of it's own, with conflicts arising between the Muslims, and the Hindu. Again Gandhi would go on hunger strikes to bring peace to his nation.And finally his assassination which stunned the world, that this great man of peace would have his life ended so violently.The funeral scene is a sight to behold.
The film is extraordinary. The cinematography(Filmed mostly in India), the costumes designs, the acting, will all keep you totaly involved with this story of historical importance. Performances by Ben Kingsley, Martin Sheen,Candace Bergen, Sir John Gielgud, Trevor Howard and Edward Fox were all a stroke a brillant casting.Also look for a very young Daniel Day Lewis early on in the film. The music by Ravi Shankar and George Fenton(also given a nod by the academy) encompasses the true culture of India.
The DVD enhances all of the terrific qualities of the film. The widescreen(2.35:1) is perfect. The picture quality and colors clear and vibrant. Sound and dialouge excellent as well. Columbia/Tri-Star has given this important film the treatment it deserves. There are also some great extras. Ben Kingsley talks about Ghandi and how he got into character, there is some original newsreel footage of Ghandi(watch this and you will realize what a remarkable job Kingsley has done), there's a photo montage, and several langauge subtitles(No Indian languages though,.. hmmm???).All together a great DVD.