GANDHI (1982) C widescreen 188m dir: Richard Attenborough

w/Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen, Edward Fox, John Gielgud, Trevor Howard, John Mills, Martin Sheen, Rohini Hattangady, Ian Charleson, Roshan Seth, Geraldine James, Athol Fugard

From the contemporary review of the film in Variety: "The canvas upon which the turmoil of India, through its harshly won independence in 1947 from British rule, is, as depicted by Richard Attenborough, bold, sweeping, brutal; tender, loving and inspiring. He has juggled the varied emotional thrusts with generally expert balance.

"Attenborough and scenarist John Briley agreed to attempt to capture the 'spirit' of the man and his times, and in this they succeed admirably. Ben Kingsley, the British (half-Indian) actor, who portrays the Mahatma from young manhood as a lawyer in South Africa, is a physically striking Gandhi and has captured nuances in speech and movement which make it seem as though he has stepped through black and white newsreels into the present Technicolor reincarnation.

"From the time he first experiences apartheid in being unceremoniously booted off a train in South Africa after obtaining his law degree in London, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi becomes a man with a mission --- a peaceful mission to obtain dignity for every man, no matter his color, creed, nationality.

"While the focus of the drama is naturally on the person of Kingsley who gives a masterfully balanced and magnetic portrayal of Gandhi, the unusually large cast, some with only walk-through roles, responds nobly. Calling for individual mention are Edward Fox as General Dyer; Candice Bergen as Margaret Bourke-White; Geraldine James as devoted disciple Mirabehn; John Gielgud as Lord Irwin; Trevor Howard as Judge Broomfield; John Mills as The Viceroy; Rohini Hattangady as Mrs. Gandhi; Roshan Seth as Nehru, and Athol Fugard as General Smuts."

And, for comparison, a somewhat different view of the film from The Movie Guide: "Despite an intelligent title performance by Ben Kingsley and impressive cinematography in the manner of David Lean, this huge, clunky biopic offers less than meets the eye. Director Attenborough seeks not to understand but to canonize his subject; as a result, both Gandhi's teachings and the complexities of Indian political history are distorted and trivialized. ... The film is at its best in its several melodramatic, large-scale 'epic' sequences (Salt March, post-Partition riots, assassination), but Gandhi remains a saintly cypher; other major figures are even more carelessly drawn; e.g., Nehru, who appears as a colorless Gandhi disciple (he was anything but), and Pakistan founder Jinnah, who comes off as a Muslim Darth Vader. African playwright Athol Fugard (Master Harold and the Boys) appears as General Smuts; Candice Bergen is fun in a cameo as American photographer Margaret Bourke-White."

GANDHI was awarded eight Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Kingsley), Original Screenplay (Briley), Cinematography (Billy Williams, Ronnie Taylor), Art Direction (Stuart Craig, Bob Laing, Michael Seirton), Editing (John Bloom), and Costume Design (John Mollo, Bhanu Athaiya). It was also nominated for Best Original Score (Ravi Shankar, George Fenton), Sound, and Makeup.