Best Picture Reviews: Gandhi

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1982 is a perfect example of what The Academy is like. The best picture lineup includes two films ranked among the greatest in their respective genres (Tootsie for comedies and E.T. for science fiction.) But the Academy gives their Best Picture award to the historical epic, because they’re the academy. But even though Gandhi didn’t deserve to win the award, it’s still a fine film

It is fitting that I discover this movie in the wake of director Richard Attenborough’s death, for only now do I see why he was so beloved. He does a good job of telling the story. Although, to be fair, perhaps the most incredible part of the film is the fact that the story is true and that this man truly lived. However, anybody who’s been reading my blogs for a while know I don’t like overly long movies, and this one is pretty long, although it is interesting for a majority of it.

I compare this movie to Lincoln in the sense that both films are about important historical figures and both are more concerned with how certain events happened as a pose to why they happened. Gandhi’s decision to devote his life to freeing the Indians seems rushed and not explained. We don’t get much of a sense of who he was before he changed into the Gandhi we all know.

But the movie makes up for that, because also like Lincoln, this movie hinges all of it’s success on it’s lead actor. In this case, an Academy Award winning performance by Ben Kingsley.

Oh my god.

This is not only one of the best performances I’ve seen on the Best Picture Quest – one of the best performances I’ve seen PERIOD. At no point in the three-hour epic did I ever question that the man I was seeing was not Gandhi himself. Kingsley gets everything right, from the accent and the line readings to the body language and his more quiet moments. It’s everything a great performance should be and then some.

Oh, and the makeup and costume design are both really exceptional at transforming Kingsley into Gandhi too. Overall, this movie has a nice screenplay, nice direction, but see this movie for Ben Kingsley and for Ben Kingsley only. And if you’re a history buff, this movie (I assume) is a very faithful look at Gandhi’s life. Gandhi was a fascinating man, and this movie certainly does him justice.

****1/2

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