Gandhi

Critics Consensus

Director Richard Attenborough is typically sympathetic and sure-handed, but it's Ben Kingsley's magnetic performance that acts as the linchpin for this sprawling, lengthy biopic.

86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 56

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 49,735
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Movie Info

It was Richard Attenborough's lifelong dream to bring the life story of Indian political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi to the screen. When it finally reached fruition in 1982, the 188-minute, Oscar-winning Gandhi was one of the most exhaustively thorough biopics ever made. The film begins in the early part of the 20th century, when Mohandas K. Gandhi (Ben Kingsley), a British-trained lawyer, forsakes all worldly possessions to take up the cause of Indian independence. Faced with armed resistance from the British government, Gandhi adopts a policy of "passive resistance," endeavoring to win freedom for his people without resorting to bloodshed. In the horrendous "slaughter" sequence, more extras appear on screen than in any previous historical epic. The supporting cast includes Candice Bergen as photographer Margaret Bourke-White, Athol Fugard as General Smuts, John Gielgud as Lord Irwin, John Mills as the viceroy, Martin Sheen as Walker, Trevor Howard as Judge Broomfield, and, in a tiny part as a street bully, star-to-be Daniel Day-Lewis. Gandhi won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.

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Cast

Ben Kingsley
as Mahatma Gandhi
Candice Bergen
as Margaret Bourke-White
Trevor Howard
as Judge Broomfield
John Mills
as Viceroy
Edward Fox
as Gen. Dyer
John Gielgud
as Lord Irwin
Ian Charleson
as Charlie Andrews
Athol Fugard
as Gen. Smuts
Günther Maria Halmer
as Herman Kallenbach
Saeed Jaffrey
as Sardar Patel
Alyque Padamsee
as Mohammed Ali Jinnah
Roshan Seth
as Pandit Nehru
Ian Bannen
as Sr. Police Officer
Michael Bryant
as Principal Secretary
John Clements
as Advocate General
Michael Hordern
as Sir George Hodge
Peter Harlowe
as Lord Mountbatten
Jane Myerson
as Lady Mountbatten
Shreeram Lagoo
as Prof. Gokhale
Om Puri
as Nahari
Virendra Razdan
as Maulana Azad
Richard Vernon
as Sir Edward Gait
Harsh Nayyar
as Nathuram Godse
Peter Cartwright
as European Passenger
Marius Weyers
as Conductor
Shane Rimmer
as Commentator
Anang Desai
as J.B. Kripalani
Ken Hutchison
as Police Sergeant
Alok Nath
as Tyeb Mohammed
David Gant
as Daniels
Avis Bunnage
as His Mother
Sunila Pradhan
as Mrs. Motilal Nehru
John Savident
as Manager of the Mine
Ernest Clark
as Lord Hunter
Stewart Harwood
as Prison Officer
Pankaj Mohan
as Mahadev Desai
Bernard Horsfall
as Gen. Edgar
Stanley McGeagh
as Prison Guard
Christopher Good
as Young Englishman
David Markham
as Older Englishman
Terrence Hardiman
as Ramsey MacDonald
Jalal Agha
as Traveller on Train Roof
John Vine
as ADC to Gen. Dyer
Rupert Frazer
as Cavalry Troop Leader
Bernard Hill
as Sergeant Putnam
Nana Palsikar
as Villager
John Quentin
as Batsman
Graham Seed
as Wicket-Keeper
Gerald Sim
as Magistrate
Gareth Forwood
as Secretary
James Cossins
as Brigadier
Geoffrey Chater
as Government Advocate
Barry John
as Police Superintendant
Brian Oulton
as Clerk of Court
James Snell
as Court Reporter
John Boxer
as Court Reporter
Richard Leech
as Brigadier
David Sibley
as Subaltern
Stanley Lebor
as Police Officer
Terence Hardiman
as Ramsey MacDonald
Jon Croft
as Colonel
John Ratzenberger
as American Lieutenant
Jack McKenzie
as Major at Aga Khan Palace
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News & Interviews for Gandhi

Critic Reviews for Gandhi

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (9)

  • Although Gandhi may lack the depth of a more academic approach, it is an old-fashioned, inspirational ode to a man who dared to challenge military power with self-restraint and political cunning.

    Apr 26, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Grievously doting and squeamishly evasive.

    May 6, 2017 | Full Review…
  • They simply do not build movies like this any more, which is a pity.

    Feb 17, 2015 | Full Review…
  • In playing Gandhi, an actor must be less concerned with physical verisimilitude than with spiritual presence, and here Kingsley is nothing short of astonishing.

    Feb 24, 2010 | Full Review…
  • Once in a long while a motion picture so eloquently expressive and technically exquisite comes along that one is tempted to hail it as being near perfect.

    Jan 29, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Attenborough's work lacks even the undercurrent of personality that David Lean brought to his films: the film has no flavor but that of the standard Hollywood hagiography.

    Dec 17, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Gandhi

  • Dec 01, 2016
    As Einstein said about Gandhi, a quote included at the end of this movie, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever, in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth." Critics of this film will say that's in part because of the mythologizing of Gandhi, which director Richard Attenborough contributes to by not showing us questionable aspects of Gandhi's personal life, or some of the opinions he held. Just one example of the latter was his very naïve attitude towards Hitler, which I chalk up to the limits of his idealism more than anything else, not evil on his part - but that would have been 'fair ground' for a more accurate and balanced portrayal of the man. However, I have to say, those who focus on these omissions miss all that was absolutely accurate - and truly inspiring - in the film. This epic movie has beautiful shots of India and is beautiful in spirit. Who can possibly not be moved by this great man, whose simplicity and nonviolent approach to oppression and violence inspired Indians and the world? He endures beatings without raising a hand, and his moral rectitude and dignity never waver in dealing with the British, his countrymen, and his peers in the 'Home Rule' movement. He eschews pomp, embraces poverty, and demands authenticity. In testifying in his own defense while on trial, he says simply "Non-cooperation with evil is a duty, and that British rule of India is evil." In speaking with British officials, he says "In the end you will walk out, because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians, if those Indians refuse to cooperate - and that's what we intend to achieve - peaceful, nonviolent, non-cooperation, until you yourselves see the wisdom of leaving." He tries desperately to hold Hindus and Muslims together in the aftermath, but is frail and then is of course assassinated. Perhaps the most difficult to watch or even fathom is the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in Amritsar, which Attenborough shows us right before the intermission. The brutality and cruelty of British Colonel Reginald Dyer is staggering, as was his callousness in the inquiries afterwards - and there is no exaggeration in the film. There are aspects that can be questioned about the film - why a white man was hired to play the part of Gandhi (even though Kingsley is fantastic), why Jinnah was portrayed in too negative a light (possibly due to the influence of the Indian government, who helped sponsor the film), and why Gandhi was overly idealized. It's not perfect, and neither was he. However, the truth is that the man was courageous, enlightened, and an awe-inspiring moral beacon to us all. His words were beautiful - and the film gets all of this right. For companion reading, try 'Mohandas Gandhi Essential Writings', which has a number of fantastic passages, and provides a more complete view of the man. In the meantime, I highly recommend this movie. Just one more quote, in his speech in front of a packed house, which threatens to become violent in the face of unfair new British Laws: "In this cause, I too am prepared to die; but my friends, there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill. Whatever they do to us, we will attack no one, kill no one, but we will not give our fingerprints, not one of us. They will imprison us, they will fine us, they will seize our possessions, but they cannot take away our self-respect if we will not give it to them. ... I am asking you to fight. To fight against their anger, not to provoke it. We will not strike a blow, but we will receive them, and through our pain, we will make them see their injustice, and it will hurt, as all fighting hurts. But we cannot lose. We cannot. They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me - then, they will have my dead body - not my obedience." Hallelujah.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2013
    A sincere biopic about a most admirable man and enriched by Ben Kingsley's exceptional performance - even if the story is in fact more didactic than really compelling and with Gandhi not as fascinating as a character as the strength of his convictions and accomplishments.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2013
    Although there are parts to Gandhi's early life that are glossed over, this is nonetheless a fitting tribute to a great man. Ben Kingsley's ultimate role and he brought his all to it.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 09, 2013
    Ben Kingsley is definitely one of the best actors around..it absolutely shows in this wonderful film.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer

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