‘Gandhi’ is a true epic. It details the life of one of the 20th Century’s most important political figures: the anti-violent Gandhi, from finding himself as a young man through to his death, through his struggle to liberate India from the British, and protest against the unfair laws imposed on the native Indian population.
I shall start with the good things about this film. Ben Kingsley’s performance as Gandhi is brilliant. He is totally convincing as the title character is appearance and mannerisms. If there was one award that this film truly deserved, then the award for best actor is it. He manages to portray the strength and gravitas of the character without overplaying the part, and you truly do forget that this is Kingsley and not Gandhi himself.
The cinematography is very impressive. This film was made before the days of computer generated crowds and the big scenes are truly impressive to watch.
The trouble that I have with this film is that I find it a bit dull. Richard Attenborough clearly wants to portray Gandhi as a remarkable and wonderful person, which is fine. I have no reason to say that Gandhi was any less great than this film says. The trouble with this, however, is that watching a serious three hour film about a person with no faults does not always make for entertaining viewing. I compare this to films such as ‘Amadeus’: Mozart is arguably the greatest composer ever lived, yet if the film was purely about his genius, it would be dull, so by portraying him as totally vulgar adds a twist to the story. ‘Patton’ the biography of General Patton is another good example. He was a great wartime leader and strategic thinker, but in this film is shown as being eccentric and difficult. I am not suggesting that Gandhi should have been portrayed as vulgar, difficult or in a negative light at all in this film, but what I do feel is that if the subject of a biopic is someone who you want to show as being faultless then the film needs some other way of making it interesting, and this, for me, it what stops the film being any better.
I did not particularly feel that I gained anything from watching ‘Gandhi’. It is not accurate enough to be treated as a documentary and not entertaining enough to be regarded as a piece of wonderful cinema. Instead, for me, it falls into the category of an admirable and respectable film that is a handsome tribute to one of the most important political figures of the last century, but cannot compare with many of the great biopic tributes that have been made.