Who was Mohandas K. Gandhi? In 1982, after twenty years of effort, a biographical portrait was produced to try and capture the essence of the man who impacted the world with his desire for peaceful solutions to problems and adherence to a non-violent philosophy.
In 1893 this privileged Indian lawyer, educated in England, traveled by train to Pretoria on business. When white passengers complained about the presence of a person of color in their first class compartment, South African authorities threw Gandhi (played by Ben Kingsley) off the train. Unknowingly, they had awakened a sleeping giant. Outraged by this experience and fueled with his knowledge of English law, the victim of discrimination soon embarked in a battle over human rights. South Africa provided an early experiment in peaceful resistance, and gave the young man an opportunity to develop his moral views as well as improve the living conditions of the immigrant Indian community.
Upon returning to his homeland Gandhi sees poverty, racial injustice, and oppression with new eyes and is determined to be the catalyst for non-violent change. His insurmountable goals include helping Hindus and Muslims find peace with one another, destroying the ridged social cast system, and liberating India from the British Empire. Soon to be titled Mahatma (great soul), the unpretentious insightful leader teaches the need for passive, yet active and provocative resistance: rather than killing their oppressors, the people should embarrass them.
Unlike many of today's valueless escape adventures, this grand epic (winner of eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay) engages its audience with heartening and heartbreaking historical events, while inspiring viewers to see themselves as an integral part of a greater whole. Parents will want to note these depictions include some very violent scenes (severe beatings and a massacre) that are likely too intense for youngsters.
The abundant talent and dedication of those involved in the making of Gandhi provides us with a rare work of art that reminds us there is much to learn from this incredible real life hero.