Sir Ben Kingsley stars as Mohandas Gandhi in Lord Richard Attenborough's riveting biography of the man who rose from simple lawyer to worldwide symbol of peace and understanding. A critical masterpiece, GANDHI is an intriguing story about activism, politics, religious tolerance and freedom. But at the center of it all is an extraordinary man who fought for a nonviolent, peaceful existence, and set an entire nation free. Winner of 8 Academy Awards® including Best Picture, Best Director (Richard Attenborough) and Best Actor (Sir Ben Kingsley), GANDHI's highly acclaimed cast also includes Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, Sir John Gielgud, Roshan Seth and Martin Sheen.
Gandhi is a great subject, but is Gandhi
a great film? Undoubtedly it is, not least because it is one of the last old-school epics ever made, a glorious visual treat featuring tens of thousands of extras (real people, not digital effects) and sumptuous Panavision cinematography. But a true epic is about more than just widescreen photography, it concerns itself with noble subjects too, and the life story of Mahatma Gandhi is one of the noblest of all. Both the man and the film have profound things to say about the meaning of freedom and racial harmony, as well as how to achieve them. Ben Kingsley, in his first major screen role, bears the heavy responsibility of the central performance and carries it off magnificently; without his magnetic and utterly convincing portrayal the film would founder in the very first scene. Sir Richard Attenborough surrounds his main character with a cast of distinguished thespians (Trevor Howard, John Mills, John Gielgud and Martin Sheen, to name but four), none of whom do anything but provide the most sympathetic support. John Briley's literate screenplay achieves the almost impossible task of distilling the bewildering complexities of Anglo-Indian politics. Attenborough's treatment is openly reverential, but, given the saint-like character of his subject, it's hard to see how it could have been anything else. He doesn't flinch from the implication that the Mahatma was naïve to expect a unified India, for example, but instead lets Gandhi's actions speak for themselves. The outstanding achievement of this labour of love is that it tells the story of an avowed pacifist who never raised a hand in anger, of a man who never held high office, of a man who shied away from publicity, and turns it into three hours of utterly mesmerising cinema.
On the DVD: The anamorphic (16:9) picture of the original 2.35:1 image has a certain softness to it that may reflect the age of the print, but somehow seems entirely in keeping with the subject . Sound is Dolby 5.1. The extras are fairly brief, but worthwhile: original newsreel footage of Gandhi includes an astonishingly patronising British news account of his visit to England; in a recent interview, Ben Kinglsey chats enthusiastically about the film and the difficulties he experienced bringing the character to life. The dull "making-of" feature is simply a montage of stills. --Mark Walker
DVD Special Features
The making of "Gandhi" photo montage
The words of Mahatma Gandhi featurette
Ben Kingsley talks about Mahatma Gandhi
Original newsreel footage
Cast and crew filmographies
2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, formatted for 16:9 TVs
English Dolby Digital 5.1
German, French language options
Subtitles: English, German, French, Icelandic, Hindi, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Arabic