Our timing for watching this film was really perfect for me. We wrapped the viewing up at the same time as I was going to Washington, DC for the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, an event commemorating Martin Luther King, Junior’s historic civil rights speech. This was also my nephew’s first march. On the way down in the metro my mom, my nephew and I all talked about non-violence – and it was impossible not to bring up the man on whose life this film is based.
The film is ambitious, spanning from 1893 when Gandhi is thrown off a whites-only train in South Africa to his assassination and funeral in 1948. Ben Kingsley, fantastic in the role of Gandhi, exudes calm, conviction and fortitude – you can’t imagine the film with anyone else. Clocking in at over three hours, it definitely took us several slogs to get through and if the miniseries format had been an available delivery mechanism at the time, that might have been preferable.
On the other hand, this movie is epic – perhaps a miniseries would have robbed it of some of its cinematic breadth. It had been Director Richard Attenborough’s dream project, and he had failed twice before trying to make a film about the life of the lauded historical figure and civil rights luminary. In the end, Gandhi won 8 Academy Awards, was nominated for 3 more, and received wide critical acclaim. It’s also of note that according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the funeral scene in this film used the most extras of any film in history – 300,000.
Long, yes, but a beautiful film about the life of a fascinating man. Gandhi reminded me a bit of Lawrence of Arabia. Both are historical epics about single individuals, opening with the subject’s death, then flashing back to a pivotal moment in his life to begin the story. Both movies tell the tale of a figure who played a role in the story of British colonialism, each in his own way. But whereas T. E. Lawrence is known for leading a brutal guerrilla war, Continue reading