Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (played by Ben Kingsley), is born in India in 1869. He is educated as a solicitor in Britain and develops a deep belief in non-violence and a balanced, peaceful life for all. An intense and passionate thinker, his beliefs lead him to become active in the civil rights movement in South Africa in 1893 and in the early twentieth century he returns to India where his reputation grows quickly. He becomes known across all India as “Mahatma” – the venerable Gandhi. His followers multiply as he spreads his pro-independence message across the sub-continent. Gandhi becomes the leader of India’s non-violent, non-cooperative independence movement against British rule. This is the dramatization of his life and his work to bring India to independence through the underlying principles of non-violence and non-cooperation. He is particularly noted for his non-secular approach – a practising Hindu, he embraces and models acceptance of the other significant faiths in India – Islam and Christianity. Coverage of his entire life is difficult, but the key milestones are here between his initiation into Civil Rights, his leadership of the independence campaign and his eventual assassination in Delhi in 1948.
This is a glorious movie about a fascinating and influential man known as “Mahatma” Gandhi. The masterful direction and excellent cinematography depicts India as a sprawling, beautiful, mysterious landscape that’s colourful and romantic – and that in itself is a job well done. Filmed on location at many of India’s key political locations, such as the Red Fort in Delhi, it is true to life in that sense, but anyone who has visited India will know that this version is not quite like the real life India. However, the way the drama unfolds and the visual pleasure of it can perhaps be interpreted as how the calm eyes of Mahatma Gandhi may see his world. Richard Attenborough deserves all the accolades he gets for his work in this movie – it’s marvellous. The story itself is significant to India’s history, but like most cultural and political upheaval it’s violent, difficult and doesn’t always go as planned, nor end well – but the telling is beautiful. There is no doubt that Ben Kinglsey, a newcomer to movies in 1982, is hugely deserving of the Academy Award (Oscar), Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards he receives for this performance – it’s remarkable and he is wonderful. The cinematography thoroughly deserves it too – although the movie is long (3 hours), the landscapes and panoramic presentation make it very watchable. Along with the copious awards for Ben Kingsley, the movie receives Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Writing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costumes and Editing. It also receives Golden Globes for Best Foreign Film, Director, New Star of the Year (Kingsley) and Screenplay; BAFTAs received are for Direction, Film, Outstanding Newcomer (Kingsley) and Supporting Actress (Rohini Hattangadi – who plays Gandhi’s wife). Excellent job.
Made in 1982. Directed by Richard Attenborough