In 1869, a man named Mohandas Gandhi was born in India. He was a mild man, small in stature, not particularly handsome, and yet he changed the world. How did he do it? Not by starting an army or by showing violence. Instead, he cultivated the seeds of his personal integrity and then lived according to his beliefs. Quietly, yet with determination, he stood for what he believed in, and others followed him. They gave him the title “Mohammed,” which means “father,” a high term of respect and endearment. This man, by choosing not to bow to an overbearing government, influenced the world for tremendous good. He put an end to the caste system in India. He fought for independence in South Africa, and it is because of him that the nation of Pakistan was formed to further the cause of religious freedom.
The 1982 movie “Gandhi,” starring Ben Kingsley, is perhaps one of the most remarkable films I’ve ever seen. It was not only acted masterfully, but the direction, the cinematography—every aspect was incredible. It doesn’t surprise me to learn this film won eight Oscars. But the most remarkable thing about this film, to me, is the way I can’t stop thinking about it, and the way it has impacted my life.
We begin the film seeing Gandhi as a young idealistic lawyer, traveling in South Africa. Because of the darker hue of his skin, he is thrown off the train, even though he has a ticket in his hand. When he finally reaches his destination, he expresses his outrage to his friends, only to be told that things will never change in South Africa. He doesn’t accept this answer, and stages a protest against carrying papers everywhere he goes, as all persons of color must do at that time.
As we move forward and see the events of his life unfold, some that are more familiar to us historically than others, we are touched by his tender relationship with his wife and his deep desire to do the right thing, even when he doesn’t always know what that might be. As we come to the conclusion, Gandi’s assassination, we feel as though we’ve been on a remarkable journey through one man’s heart and soul, and joined with thousands of others whose souls resonated with his.
This movie depicts many disturbing historical events, including the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and I don’t recommend it for young children. However, I highly recommend it for your older children and your teenagers, especially as a supplement to their studies of this era of history in school. I learned so much from this film and know I will think back on it often. If one man can change the world by standing for his beliefs and refusing to crumple in the face of opposition, what could the rest of us do if we were that brave?
This film is rated PG.
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