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My review of Gandhi

May 25, 2014

After putting off watching Gandhi (the 1982 Best Picture Oscar winner) on Thursday night, I got around to watching it today. I never had any interest in seeing this movie prior to this exercise of seeing every Best Picture Oscar winner. It looked so boring, and I knew it was really long. Plus, it beat E.T. for Best Picture, a source of bitterness for me (Because I’m a dork). However, one of the unintended circumstances of this exercise, on more than one occasion, has been that I was wrong. Gandhi is no exception. Gandhi is actually a very good movie. It is epic in its storytelling. It contains great acting. It has scenes of true emotional power, not merely to manipulate, but to show the truth of some of the actual events that happened in Gandhi’s lifetime. Gandhi was a great man who strove to effect, and succeeded in effecting, change in South Africa and, most notably, in his native India, all through non-violent means. This movie does a wonderful job showing how peaceful his means were, and how successful they were. Ben Kingsley is fantastic as Gandhi, playing him from the early 1890s to his death in 1948. He starts out as a young, idealistic, London-trained lawyer and ends up as the man who gained independence for India. In addition to Ben Kingsley, many other familiar faces pop up: two actors with major roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Amrish Puri, and Roshan Seth as Nehru) have important roles in this film. Also, Martin Sheen plays an American reporter, Candice Bergen plays famous Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White, Sir John Gielgud, Sir John Mills, Trevor Howard, Ian Bannen, Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter’s uncle), Edward Fox, Ian Charleson (star of the previous year’s Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire), Nigel Hawthorne, Bernard Hill (the captain from Titanic, and Théoden from the Lord of the Rings movies), and an oddly dubbed John Ratzenberger all show up in the movie. Also, in one short scene, Daniel Day-Lewis plays a racist South African who insults Gandhi. They all lend support to Kingsley, who won a Best Actor Oscar for playing Gandhi. The direction by Sir Richard Attenborough is confident, but I still think it could have been edited down slightly without minimizing any of the subject’s accomplishments or the events that took place. However, although it is a little over 3 hours, it doesn’t bore. In addition, the make-up and hair are very well done, showing the gradual aging of Gandhi and those around him. In the end, I’m glad that I finally watched Gandhi and I’m glad that I was wrong about it. It is a very good movie. I still think E.T. should have won Best Picture, but I can see why prestige-minded Academy voters might have voted for this well-made epic. Next up (and possibly the last Best Picture review for quite some time): Out of Africa, starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.

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