A great, uplifting, epic film.
Why is Ben Kingsley not doing a commentary track on this DVD?
Mahatma Gandhi legendary, beloved figure and his story is deftly crafted and told in Sir Richard Attenborough's Gandhi. The film charts Gandhi's rise from humble beginnings as a lawyer, to his eventual ascension as a world figure who used "nonviolent" protests to lead Indian revolts against the British in his country. This 191 minute film is a sprawling epic which follows a simple man and his belief in the indomitable will of the human spirit. Along the way he suffered many setbacks, but ultimately Gandhi was successful in not only freeing his people, but inspiring many generations (and people like Dr. Martin Luther Kind) that you can make change if you are willing to risk everything.
Sir Ben Kingsley is so perfect in this role it isn't at all surprising that he won the Best Actor trophy for this performance. He gives a powerful but restrained look at a man who functioned with an inner energy that few people have. When you watch this movie, it is very easy to become engulfed in the story and to believe all the characters. Gandhi is so well crafted but in it's performances and the way it looks, it stays with you on many levels long after the credits have rolled.
Sir Richard Attenborough sits back and recounts the making of this film. He talks about why the project interested him, the actors, the locations, and what he was trying to achieve in telling this story. I liked this but I was hoping it would be warmer and filled with more anecdotes. Attenborough does supply those at times when talking about the actors and the locations he shot in, but for the most part this commentary seems to be more geared to the technically inclined.
Vintage Newsreel Footage
Sir Ben Kingsley talks About Gandhi Interview
As much I liked hearing Sir Ben Kingsley discuss this role (one that he is obviously very proud of), I wondered why he didn't do a commentary track. He touches on all the points of Gandhi that one might hope (what he was up against, playing a man who has attained mythic stature, etc.), but I just wish he had been more involved with this DVD overall.
The 9 Featurettes on this DVD are "In Search of Gandhi," "Reflections on Ben," "Madeleine Slade: An English Woman Abroad," "The Funeral," "Looking Back," "Shooting an Epic in India," "Designing Gandhi," "From the Director's Chair" and "The Words of Mahatma Gandhi." These featurettes give us a very broad-based look not only at this production, but at the characters in the film. As you can guess we find out how the production made it's way into India, how the look of the film was achieved, the effect of Mahatma Gandhi on the world, and what the cast and crew thought of Ben Kingsley in this role.
2.35:1 - Anamorphic Widescreen. This film looks epic. From the way the characters are dressed, to the sets and locations, to the acting styles employed, this movie never seems like we are watching something that's been staged. Sure, there are the dramatic moments that every "triumph film" has, but this movie excels beyond that with it's look. On DVD, I was a little worried that this movie might get over compressed in spots, but I was excited to find that the technology has advanced to the point that they can put 191 minutes on one disc and it holds up.
Dolby Digital. Remastered in High Definition. Languages - English 5.1 (Dolby Digital), Portuguese (Dolby Surround), Spanish. Subtitled in English, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. Close Captioned. Like a lot of epic productions, this movie really lets the audio engulf it but it doesn't get lost there. I think that Attenborough was well aware of the fact that amidst the bigness of this production, he was telling a very simple story. The music goes up and down as we expect it might, but I never thought I was being manipulated as a viewer.
An image of Gandhi praying with many followers behind him is what makes up this front cover. The back portion features a brief description of what this film is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list, and technical specs. They have used a sandy-type color to fill in certain areas on both the front and back of this case. While not the kind of packaging that is going to blow anybody away, it is restrained in much the same way as the story it is telling.
I remember seeing this movie when it first came out in theaters in 1982 and, while I was 9 and didn't really know what was going on, I do know that I watched every frame of this movie to see what would happen next. I wasn't able to follow the story and put together the pieces of the revolution like I can now, but there was something about the story of Gandhi that, even then, I knew I was watching something important. The ending of this film surprised me and I even recall driving home with my parents and having them explain to me why this great man had met such an awful fate.
Gandhi, in this 25th Anniversary Edition, was a thrill to watch as I have not screened the movie since I had seen it in the theater. They honestly don't make movies like this anymore. When one considers what this man did and then the film that Sir Richard Attenborough made about it, it seems only fitting that this story be told in this grand style.