Gandhi (2000) from Tuna

Gandhi (1982) is finally available on DVD. The transfer is first rate, but the special features are a little sparse. There is a long interview with Ben Kingsley, who played the title role, and a little biographical information on Gandhi, but nothing in the way of a making of, or commentary.

I loved this Richard Attenborough film the first time I saw it, and, if anything, was more impressed this time. The academy was as impressed as I was, awarding 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. Lest you think it was an easy year, here is the chart (actual nominees highlighted):

1982 Film Current IMDb rating
Das Boot 8.5
Blade Runner 8.3
Fanny och Alexander 8.2
Gandhi 7.8
E.T. 7.7
Sophie's Choice 7.6
Fitzcarraldo 7.6
Tootsie  7.5
Missing 7.4
The Verdict 7.4
My Favorite Year 7.3
Diner 7.3
Frances 7.2


 Given the nominated choices, history has pretty much shown the academy right that year.

This epic biography portrays a man who truly understood, and lived non-violent protest, and caused the British to grant India home rule. Not only did Gandhi himself practice non-violence, but twice went on a hunger strike to stop violence spawned by his movement. Contrast that with many American proponents of non-violent protest, who spawned a lot of violence in their wake that they never took responsibility for. It is also interesting that Gandhi never held any political office, and never received any title.

Watching the newsreel footage of Gandhi makes you realize just how great a performance Kingsley gave. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • features: see the main commentary

 Scoopy's comments in yellow:

Ghandi won Best Picture that year. Both E.T. and Tootsie supporters felt that they got screwed. As you can see by the chart, history has offered a different judgment, leaving Gandhi's reputation intact. The choice of Gandhi over Blade Runner is not apples-to-apples with the IMDb ratings. The version of Blade Runner voted on by IMDb experts is not the same one released theatrically.

I would agree with the IMDb viewers in picking the top five, dropping The Verdict and Missing from the nominees in favor of Sophie's Choice and Blade Runner. I think that would result in the right five nominees. Damned if I know how to compare them and pick a winner, because the five films have absolutely no common ground for comparison, and are all outstanding. 

  • a brilliant and literary drama with incomparable acting (Sophie's Choice)
  • perhaps the greatest S/F film ever made (Blade Runner)
  • a great historical epic (Gandhi)
  • perhaps the greatest non-animated kid's film ever made (E.T.)
  • a great comedy with real depth and intelligence (Tootsie)

I just don't know how to say any one of them is "better" than the others. Tell ya what, though, that's five mighty good flicks right there. 

The Critics Vote

  • Consensus: three and a half stars. Maltin 3.5/4, Apollo 86/100

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 14 articles on file. 100% good reviews.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.8 (top 200 of all time), Apollo voters 89/100
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B.

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