Tuesday, January 1, 2013

indian independence - Gandhi - film - 1982 - Gandhi

Gandhi
Richard Attenborough
International Film Investors
1982
191 minutes

Since the late 19th century, via the Theosophists and later through some of the novels of Herman Hesse, India has been conceived by much of the west as a land that is more humanely spiritual than virtually anywhere else on planet Earth. The Hippies and their New Age descendants intensified these sentiments to the extent that, to this day, India is basically a theme park for a New Age colonialism of religious seekers. Richard Attenborough's biographic drama Gandhi, about the great leader of Indian Nationalism, shows a nation deeply fractured under the weight of a cruel British colonial rule, a mean caste system, and entrenched ethnic hostilities.



Attenborough's film is important because Gandhi too has been idealized as a quiet, monkish figure, often remembered through photographs where he is shown naked and sitting cross legged.  He's the guy who said "you have to be the change you want to see in the world" and other feel-good aphorisms. Gandhi shows him for what he was, a lawyer and a revolutionary theorist who would go take a beating from British officers, go to prison, and refuse food, to advance the cause of sovereignty for India and all of its citizens. Gandhi is depicted as intense and uncompromising in his leadership of the cause of Indian independence. He is also depicted as failing in some respects, to create an India united under its own independence, as he never sided with the cause of Hindu supremacism and was ultimately assassinated by an adherent to that cause, which comprises the final shot of the film.



One interesting aspect is that Gandhi rejected the caste system, insisting that, when his followers were building communal buildings (referred to as an 'asram') that all must share in all duties. So that some individuals of higher caste take part in the work traditionally reserved for the lower castes in order to break down this system and the consciousness it engenders. This aspect of Gandhi’s work is featured primarily in the beginning of the film however, much of the latter half of this long movie represents the leader as either an interview subject or as a hunger striker.



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