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Gandhi (1982)

by Annie Kapur about a year ago in movie

1001 Movies to See Before You Die (Schneider, J.S, Smith, I.H)

In this article, we will be looking at 2019’s book “1001 Movies to See Before You Die” and going through each film in a random order that I have chosen. We will be looking at what constitutes this film to be on the list and whether I think this film deserves to be here at all. I want to make perfectly clear that I won’t be revealing details from this book such as analyses by film reporters who have written about the film in question, so if you want the book itself you’ll have to buy it. But I will be covering the book’s suggestions on which films should be your top priority. I wouldn’t doubt for a second that everyone reading this article has probably watched many of these movies anyway. But we are just here to have a bit of fun. We’re going to not just look at whether it should be on this list but we’re also going to look at why the film has such a legacy at all. Remember, this is the 2019 version of the book and so, films like “Joker” will not be featured in this book and any film that came out in 2020 (and if we get there, in 2021). So strap in and if you have your own suggestions then don’t hesitate to email me using the address in my bio. Let’s get on with it then.

Gandhi (1982) dir. by Richard Attenborough

Released at the end of November of that year in New Delhi, Richard Attenborough premiered his Ben Kingsley-starring masterpiece of epic cinema. It also had a royal premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square in London in the presence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. This was followed by a wider release in the first week of December. Internationally, the film was an immediate hit with positive reviews coming out left, right and centre.

Newsweek was one of the films that stated one of the most positive outlooks on the film. Jack Kroll, the film critic, made comments on Richard Attenborough stating that he:

“…mounts a powerful challenge to his audience by presenting Gandhi as the most profound and effective of revolutionaries, creating out of a fierce personal discipline a chain reaction that led to tremendous historical consequences. At a time of deep political unrest, economic dislocation and nuclear anxiety, seeing "Gandhi" is an experience that will change many minds and hearts.”

But, the Telegraph, commented on the inaccuracies of the movie in attempts to make Gandhi look like some flawless deity. However, Patrick French, the critics for said newspaper, was unimpressed. He stated it was important to see the film as what it was - just a film. He goes on to say:

“An important origin of one myth about Gandhi was Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film. Take the episode when the newly arrived Gandhi is ejected from a first-class railway carriage at Pietermaritzburg after a white passenger objects to sharing space with a “coolie” (an Indian indentured labourer). In fact, Gandhi's demand to be allowed to travel first-class was accepted by the railway company. Rather than marking the start of a campaign against racial oppression, as legend has it, this episode was the start of a campaign to extend racial segregation in South Africa. Gandhi was adamant that “respectable Indians” should not be obliged to use the same facilities as “raw Kaffirs”…”

But Rotten Tomatoes gives it a majorly positive set of review with the consensus stating about the film:

"Director Richard Attenborough is typically sympathetic and sure-handed, but it's Ben Kingsley's magnetic performance that acts as the linchpin for this sprawling, lengthy biopic.”

The film continued to build a legacy after winning big at the Academy Awards, it won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Editing.

Personally, I have watched this film a number of times but honestly, sometimes I think that it is over-deifying Gandhi and that the accuracy is sometimes sacrificed for the sake of dramatisation. Between that and having never recognised the young and baby-faced Sir Daniel Day-Lewis in the film, I can honestly say that it makes a great film. But it really does stop there. It is a film.


Annie Kapur

Film and Writing (M.A)

125K+ Reads on Vocal

IG: @AnnieApproximately

Pronouns: (she/her/hers)

Read next: 10 Films You Really Should Watch That You "Probably" Haven't

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