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The film Gandhi

The film Gandhi is a biography of the Indian leader, and historians have pointed out a number of ways in which the film distorts the historical record. Director Richard Attenborough has indicated his desire to be true to Gandhi as a human being, and yet this means something different to the filmmaker than it would mean to a historian. The latter would seek every scrap of information and include it as part of the picture, while Attenborough is interested more in the image of the man and in supporting that image with facts that do not really challenge the myth but extend it in some fashion for a new audience. A number of themes emerge from the way Gandhi is treated in the film.

The central theme is the theme that was central to Gandhi's life as well, the theme of the importance and effectiveness of nonviolent protest. The development of the idea of protest begins with Gandhi's experiences in South Africa when he first encounters the discrimination of apartheid as a young lawyer and feels the need to protest such injustices even though told there is no way he can change the law. Part of his ability as a protester is his talent for organizing the movement and enlisting supporters. His message of nonviolent protest is disconcerting to police accustomed to something more direct. Gandhi's win in South Africa carries over to his return to India, where he finds the need now to use the same tactics against onerous British rule.

The ills of imperialism are highlighted by British rule, supporting the theme of freedom and self-rule. The British are depicted as buffoons and bigots, while all other Indians except Nehru are shown as ancillary to the central presence of Gandhi. This would not have been the case in life, especially in the early years before Gandhi had taken a leadership role, but it is the impression left by the film. Attenborough has so centralized his main character that he cannot give much time to anyone else, and thi...

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The film Gandhi. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 05:34, February 20, 2019, from