Gandhi is a great subject, but is Gandhi a great film? Undoubtedly it is, not least because it is one of the last old-school epics ever made, a glorious visual treat featuring tens of thousands of extras (real people, not digital effects) and sumptuous Panavision cinematography. But a true epic is about more than just widescreen photography, it concerns itself with noble subjects too, and the life story of Mahatma Gandhi is one of the noblest of all. Both the man and the film have profound things to say about the meaning of freedom and racial harmony, as well as how to achieve them. Ben Kingsley, in his first major screen role, bears the heavy responsibility of the central performance and carries it off magnificently; without his magnetic and utterly convincing portrayal the film would founder in the very first scene. Sir Richard Attenborough surrounds his main character with a cast of distinguished thespians (Trevor Howard, John Mills, John Gielgud and Martin Sheen, to name but four), none of whom do anything but provide the most sympathetic support. John Briley's literate screenplay achieves the almost impossible task of distilling the bewildering complexities of Anglo-Indian politics. Attenborough's treatment is openly reverential, but, given the saint-like character of his subject, it's hard to see how it could have been anything else. He doesn't flinch from the implication that the Mahatma was naïve to expect a unified India, for example, but instead lets Gandhi's actions speak for themselves. The outstanding achievement of this labour of love is that it tells the story of an avowed pacifist who never raised a hand in anger, of a man who never held high office, of a man who shied away from publicity, and turns it into three hours of utterly mesmerising cinema.On the DVD: The anamorphic (16:9) picture of the original 2.35:1 image has a certain softness to it that may reflect the age of the print, but somehow seems entirely in keeping with the subject . Sound is Dolby 5.1. The extras are fairly brief, but worthwhile: original newsreel footage of Gandhi includes an astonishingly patronising British news account of his visit to England; in a recent interview, Ben Kinglsey chats enthusiastically about the film and the difficulties he experienced bringing the character to life. The dull "making-of" feature is simply a montage of stills. --Mark Walker
When the Khmer Rouge captured the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in 1975 many thought the killing would end. Instead it started a long nightmare in which three million Cambodians would lose their lives in the killing fields... The Killing Fields is an epic true story of friendship and survival produced by David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire) and directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission). Sam Waterston plays Sydney Schanberg whose war coverage entraps him and other journalists in Cambodia's turbulent politics. Dr. Haing S. Ngor is Dith Pran Schanberg's aide and friend who saves them from execution. But Pran is sentenced to work in the labour camps enduring starvation and torture before attempting an escape to neighbouring Thailand.... In real life Dr Ngor also endured Khmer Rouge atrocities and saw his moving Oscar-winning portrayal of Pran (one of the film's three Academy Awards) as a way of bringing his nation's tragic ordeal to light.
Richard Attenborough's award-winning epic recounts the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi. In South Africa a young Indian lawyer is booted off a train for refusing to ride second-class. Upon his return to his native India and fed up with the unjust political system he joins the Indian Congress Party which encourages social change through passive resistance. When his ""subversive"" activities land him in jail masses of low-skilled workers strike to support his non-violent yet revolutionary position. Back in India Gandhi renounces the Western way of life and struggles to organize Indian labor against British colonialism. A strike costs many British soldiers their lives so the crown responds by slaughtering 1 500 Indians. Enraged the ascetic spiritual leader continues to preach pacifism until he has lead India out from under the tyranny of British imperialism.
This harrowing but rewarding 1984 drama concerns the real-life relationship between New York Times reporter Sidney Schanberg and his Cambodian assistant Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), the latter left at the mercy of the Khmer Rouge after Schanberg--who chose to stay after American evacuation but was booted out--failed to get him safe passage. Filmmaker Roland Joffé, previously a documentarist, made his feature debut with this account of Dith's rocky survival in the ensuing madness of the Khmer Rouge's genocidal campaign. The script of The Killing Fields spends some time with Schanberg's feelings of guilt after the fact, but most of the movie is a shattering re-creation of hell on Earth. The late Haing S. Ngor--a real-life doctor who had never acted before and who lived through the events depicted by Joffé--is outstanding, and he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Oscars also went to cinematographer Chris Menges and editor Jim Clark. --Tom Keogh
When the Khmer Rouge captured the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh in 1975 many thought the killing would end. Instead it started a long nightmare in which three million Cambodians would lose their lives in the killing fields... 'The Killing Fields' is an epic true story of friendship and survival produced by David Puttnam (Chariots of Fire) and directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission). Sam Waterston plays Sydney Schanberg whose war coverage entraps him and other journalists in Cambodia'
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