My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 25: Gandhi (Best Picture Ranking)

Another Oscar winner that has achieved a rather bad reputation as the years went on – or actually, even sooner. Right after the Oscars in 1983, complaints were loud and clear that the Oscar voters seemed to have confused their movie awards with the Nobel price. Personally, I disagree strongly since Gandhi may be a movie that intends to worship its title character but at the same time it is also a proof for the power of cinema and a testament to Richard Attenborough’s ability to capture the effects of Gandhi’s life with both an eye for detail and characters but also for the epic scale in which the story is set.

Like The Last Emperor, Gandhi tells of a historical figure without ever becoming a ‘moving Wikipedia-page’ but instead uses all the means of cinema to make the story and the legacy of the central character come alive in front of our eyes. Mostly this is owed to the casting of Ben Kinsley who is brilliant as Gandhi. He captures both the physical and the spiritual presence of a man everybody seems to know or at least has ideas about. He is also believable in the journey of this man from his days as a young lawyer in Africa to his final days in India. And even though Gandhi is, in its heart, a one-man show, every other cast member also does his/her best to bring all characters to full live. To be honest, Gandhi is in no way a surprising movie – as a biography and as an epic, it follows a predictable formula but what does this matter if the formula is such a success? It would be like saying ‘West Side Story is a predictable musical because people sing’. Some movies simply tend to follow a certain style but sometimes, this style is the key to the overall success. As a movie, Gandhi depends on all the time that is given to various events, to ideas and speeches. The movie itself states at the beginning that it is impossible to tell the whole life of a person (especially a person like Gandhi) in one movie but Gandhi does its best to combine as much as possible without ever feeling overly long or too rushed.

Gandhi manages to be a story that is inspirational, shocking, saddening and uplifting. It shows the complexities of politics, how the people in the colonies immediately began to fight each other after the English left and, most importantly, always treats Gandhi as a man – an extraordinary one maybe, but still a man.

The movie is also filled with scenes that underline that the times of the colonies aren’t as romantic and noble as a lot of movies often would like to present them. The scenes of the Amritsar massacre are a horrible reminder of the violence with which the colonial masters used to rule over the inhabitants of the countries. The almost never-ending fights against these colonial rulers are never shown in a way that tries to win the audience’s affection but Richard Attenborough constantly keeps a surprising distance to the events he presents and seems to focus more on the display of Gandhi’s life instead of personal comments.

Gandhi achieves to feel important without self-important. It’s an overwhelming epic in the tradition of the greatest work by David Lean – maybe more conventional but still fantastic.


Louis Morgan said...

Although I do believe this to be finely made, I never felt is was all that dramatically compelling.

Anonymous said...

Great movie,but The Verdict should've won for picture,actor,,script.Academy really likes epics.(Not that much in recent years though)

dinasztie said...

I would have picked Tootsie but I'm biased. :)

joe burns said...

Never seen it, but it sounds great!

Fritz said...

Well, Tootsie is brilliant, so I won't complain about your choice!