In 1893, Mohandas K. Gandhi is thrown off a South African train for being an Indian and traveling in a first class compartment. Gandhi realizes that the laws are biased against Indians and decides to start a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. After numerous arrests and the unwanted attention of the world, the government finally relents by recognizing rights for Indians, though not for the native blacks of South Africa. After this victory, Gandhi is invited back to India, where he is now considered something of a national hero. He is urged to take up the fight for India's independence from the British Empire. Gandhi agrees, and mounts a non-violent non-cooperation campaign of unprecedented scale, coordinating millions of Indians nationwide. There are some setbacks, such as violence against the protesters and Gandhi's occasional imprisonment. Nevertheless, the campaign generates great attention, and Britain faces intense public pressure. Too weak...Written by
A WORLD EVENT It took one remarkable man to defeat the British Empire and free a nation of 350 million people. His goal was freedom for India. His strategy was peace. His weapon was his humanity. See more »
In 1962, Sir Richard Attenborough received a phone call from an Indian civil servant called Motilai Kothari, who was working with the Indian High Commission in London. Kothari was a devout follower of Gandhi, and was convinced that Attenborough would be the perfect choice to make a movie about him. Attenborough read Louis Fischer's biography of the Indian statesman and agreed with Motilai, though it would take him twenty years to fulfill the dream. His first act was to meet with the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, as well as Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. Nehru approved of his plan and promised to help support the production, but his death in 1964 was just one in a long line of setbacks. See more »
When the Pakistani flag is being raised for the first time, the anthem that is playing is the modern national anthem of Pakistan ("Qaumi Tarana"). The original national anthem of Pakistan was a different song (written by a Hindu), which was written days prior to the ceremony and only lasted 18 months as Pakistan's anthem. See more »
He will be saying prayers in the garden. Just follow the others.
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The producers express their thanks in the closing credits to The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India for the use of its grounds and exteriors for filming locations. See more »
In April 2005, Skoll launched the Gandhi Project in partnership with Silicon Valley entrepreneur Kamran Elahian. Working with Palestinian voice actors and artists, an award-winning director dubbed the epic film into Arabic. It is being screened throughout Palestine in order to advance civil society goals of peaceful resistance, self-reliance, economic development and local empowerment, and plans are underway to expand screenings throughout the Arab world. See more »
In her diary entry of Saturday, February 27, 1943, Anne Frank wrote in passing (translated from the Dutch): "The freedom-loving Gandhi of India is holding his umpteenth fast."
It's a comment at once mildly comical and respectfully admiring, one I think the Mahatma would have appreciated with a twinkle and a laugh. He and Miss Frank are linked with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., as the civil rights spokesperson-giants of the 20th century. And civil rights, and the reversal of the institutionalized violation of the same, are a large part of what the last century's politics were all about. Movie viewers are apt to find in the diary remark a distillation of their experience of the Richard Attenborough film. A recommendation is that it be followed by rentals of Saving Private Ryan and The Long Walk Home, which together convey the investment put into the respective causes the trio represented.
At the beginning of Gandhi we confront these words: "No man's life can be encompassed in one telling. There is no way to give each year its allotted weight, to include each event, each person who helped to shape a lifetime. What can be done is to be faithful in spirit to the record, and to try to find one's way to the heart of the man...."
John Briley's screenplay accomplishes that faithfulness, and one probably has to be a scholar of the subject to sort out what is his and what is Gandhi's. Not that it really is of relevance, given what we learn from the movie about the value of eclecticism. Looking out over the bay at Porbandar, Gandhi (Ben Kingsley) tells Walker (Martin Sheen): "The temple where you were yesterday is of my family's sect, the Pranami. It was Hindu of course, but the priests used to read from the Muslim Koran and the Hindu Gita, moving from one to the other as though it mattered not at all which book was read as long as God was worshipped." In a preceding scene, similarly, confronted by young toughs on a South African street, Gandhi defends for his Christian friend Charlie (Ian Charleson) the New Testament intelligence of turning the other cheek. A worried Charlie states, "I think perhaps the phrase was used metaphorically. I don't think our Lord meant...," and is interrupted by a movie shot of the approaching menace. Gandhi replies calmly, "I'm not so certain. I have thought about it a great deal. I suspect he meant you must show courage--be willing to take a blow--several blows--to show you will not strike back--nor will you be turned aside.... And when you do that it calls upon something...that makes...hate for you diminish and...respect increase. I think Christ grasped that and I...have seen it work."
The script is replete with these kinds of memorable words, and with others that reflect its subject's political acumen and strategical cleverness.
Kingsley is sublime in the lead role. Saeed Jaffrey, Roshan Seth, and Alyque Padamsee do well as Gandhi's pro-independence collaborators. Ditto, Athol Fugard ("Assuming we are in agreement?") and John Gielgud ("Salt?") as two of his adversaries. Charleson, in his clerical collar, looks like he has walked in off the set of the preceding year's Academy Award winner, Chariots of Fire (where he played the Scottish sprinter-missionary, Eric Liddell).
This movie won eight Oscars, with Attenborough, Briley, and Kingsley all earning honors. No other film biography I ever have seen works so well. It will stand the test of time and inform multiple generations. One doubts remakes will be necessary.
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