Gandhi review by Matt Fuerst


As I write this, my country is at war in a foreign soil, fighting against an oppressed people with tyrannical leader. The United States financial markets are unsteady at best, terrorism in our cities and homes seems more likely than ever. It would be relatively easy if these were the only problems that we faced, but instead we have the usual host of issues to look at as well. Education. The environment. Health care. Foreign policy. When I sit back in a chair and think about all these issues I begin to find myself nearing the pit of despair. How in the world can we handle all these problems? In an attempt for escape, I find myself flipping through an old copy of Sports Illustrated. I land upon an article on the NCAA tourney. It talks about the first time the University of Mississippi basketball team was set to play against a racially integrated team. Not many native Mississippians were excited about this idea; The President of the University received death threats, Bomb Threats, etc... The National Guard was called in and marched in the streets to allow the game to go on. Now let's consider this point in history as a perspective to today. I am sure at the time it didn't seem like the issue was ever going to be solved, some people in Mississippi hated people whose skin happened to be black, and they were determined never to allow change to occur. Troops in our army were marching against us, just to ensure that civil rights were going to be obeyed. I cannot imagine men with machine guns sitting outside my local deli, but it has happened. We as a country have survived a lot of strife, turmoil. A lot of it, at the time, seemed like it would never be resolved. But it does resolve itself. Gandhi was a man that lived in a time filled with a lot of strife. He lived through both World War I and World War II and used his principals to try to make the world a better place. Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu Indian that was able to look beyond the color of his skin and the religion he chose to practice and instead strive for equality amongst everyone.

Enough of my 8th grade-esque essay on world news. Gandhi was a film released in 1982 to much critical success. Gandhi won an incredible 9 Academy Awards, including a Best Actor nod for Ben Kingsley, Best Director for Richard Attenborough, Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Cinematography. It really cleaned house as you can tell, those aren't the bottom barrel awards, they are the real top flight ones. Gandhi tries to summarize up the mans life with a look at his life through a few time periods, namely his life as a young gentleman in racially segregated South Africa, his return to India and his later movements in life attempting to free India of Britian's control. The movie itself is based on facts but events have been shifted around and some items have been fictionalized. It honestly would be impossible to present the movie otherwise, since Gandhi had such an amazing variety of experiences that even by condensing it down to 190 minutes (yes, 3 hours, 10 minutes) does not do his life justice. Due to this, I won't do a worse job butchering Mr. Gandhi's life by condensing it down further with a synopsis of the film. Needless to say it is a very interesting life that he choose.

I felt the main flaw in the film is the fact that we're never really given any background on why Gandhi acts the way that he does. He must have had some event in his life that made him change his views so radically from norm. Even if Gandhi didn't have a strong background from his parents or readings he did in school, he must have been constantly working on and conceptualizing his ideas and principles, but we never really get into this area. Gandhi uses his principles throughout the film, but the genesis of them doesn't really come to light. I imagine that Gandhi drew his concepts (and power) from several sources, most likely the main source being the Hindu sacred texts, the sruti and smriti. It really would have been interesting to better understand where Gandhi got his feelings, or a look into his contemporaries at the time.

In spite of the 3 hour plus length of this film, the pacing is so excellent that you will not notice the time go by. It really is cut exceedingly well and the pace is dead on. The cinematography, as you could tell from the awards sitting on Billy Williams and Ronnie Taylor's mantle, is excellent as well. The movie was filmed in India, and the country has amazing visual splendors to share on the screen. The film did $52 million of business in 1982 which was a pretty good take, so it has achieved a good amount of well deserved success. IMDB lists the movie as #194 in their Top 250 list.

My copy of Gandhi is the Special Edition Laserdisc. Presented widescreen in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It's a great presentation and worthy of your player. The DVD release is relatively recent so it likely has an equal or better video print. In addition the DVD includes some bonus materials such as a Ben Kingsley interview and actual newreels of Gandhi.

If you're willing to invest some time in exploring another mans life, you couldn't do much better than selecting Gandhi for an evening.

7 out of 10 Jackasses
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