“Gandhi”, 1982: One of the Last Pre-CGI Epics

There is also David Lean’s 1984 A Passage to India, a good adaptation of E.M. Forster’s classic. But Richard Attenborough’s 1982 AA-winning Best Picture is the last on a mass human scale not seen since the 1950s and ’60s. The filmed-on-location crowd scenes are spectacular and one can only imagine how difficult it was to coordinate tens of thousands of extras for the many memorable crowd scenes.

A labor-of-love film that took the director 20 long years to realize. (John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins were contenders for the lead role till Gandhi look-a-like Ben Kingsley (Best Actor), himself from Indian heritage, won the part.)

Everything about this film is right including the main episode coverage and big scenes from Gandhi’s life driven by John Briley’s Best Original Screenplay. The cast is made up of strong Indian supporting actors and veteran actors headed by John Mills, Trevor Howard, John Gielgud, Ian Charleson, Martin Sheen, and Candice Bergen. The cinematography by Billy Williams, the look of the locales, and Ravi Shankar’s music round out the excellent production. (Bonus: numerous extras on the DVD)


This epic gives the viewer an outstanding review of the main events in the main who brought nationhood to India and kept its warring factions from getting out of control after the British left. Gandhi is a remarkable man and Kingsley brings out his many nuances of character including his humor, wisdom, and high purpose.

The DVD print from Columbia looks as terrific as David Lean’s classic Lawrence of Arabia, comparatively speaking, and Gandhi is as significant a historical figure as Lawrence, well-worthy of the masterpiece Attenborough has, likewise, created. Highly recommended for viewers interested in history, great men, and epic movies made with real people, not ersatz CGI figures.

(an impressive 20 year quest to film Gandhi, plus a review of Attenborough’s long career)

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