In 1893, Gandhi is thrown off a South African train for being an Indian and traveling in a first class compartment. Gandhi realizes that the laws are biased against Indians and decides to start a non-violent protest campaign for the rights of all Indians in South Africa. After numerous arrests and the unwanted attention of the world, the government finally relents by recognizing rights for Indians, though not for the native blacks of South Africa. After this victory, Gandhi is invited back to India, where he is now considered something of a national hero. He is urged to take up the fight for India's independence from the British Empire. Gandhi agrees, and mounts a non-violent non-cooperation campaign of unprecedented scale, coordinating millions of Indians nationwide. There are some setbacks, such as violence against the protesters and Gandhi's occasional imprisonment. Nevertheless, the campaign generates great attention, and Britain faces intense public pressure. Too weak from World ...
Did you know? Some say that Steven Spielberg cast Richard Attenborough as John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993) as thanks for his support on Oscar night when Gandhi (1982) trounced E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Read More
His Triumph Changed The World Forever. The Man of the Century. The Motion Picture of a Lifetime. A WORLD EVENT It took one remarkable man to defeat the British Empire and free a nation of 350 million people. His goal was freedom for India. His strategy was peace. His weapon was his humanity.
Miscellaneous When the Pakistani flag is being raised for the first time, the anthem that is playing is the modern national anthem of Pakistan ("Qaumi Tarana"). The original national anthem of Pakistan was a different song (written by a Hindu), which was written days prior to the ceremony and only lasted 18 months as Pakistan's anthem.
Miscellaneous (at around 2h 20 mins) Footage of a speeding steam train is shown during Gandhi's visit to Britain in 1931. There were then only four railway companies in the UK, LMS, LNER, SR and GWR, all of whom proudly displayed their initials on their engine tenders. In the footage, however, there is only the smudge like the logo of British Rail, not formed until 1948.
Miscellaneous Hermann Kallenbach is shown alive in India at or near independence in 1947, but he died in 1945.
Miscellaneous The Calcutta killings are shown as having happened after Indian independence in August 1947 whereas they actually took place a year earlier in August 1946.
Miscellaneous The car burned in the Calcutta riot scenes (some time between 1946 and 1948) is an Ambassador, an Indian-made copy of a 1954 Morris Oxford.
Continuity When Gandhi is escorted into the office of the top prison official, the pendulum on the grandfather clock in the background jumps between shots.
Continuity When Gandhi tells the man how to escape from hell, the man prostrates himself at Gandhi's feet. Before, the man had tossed a piece of food on Gandhi's stomach. After falling at Gandhi's feet, the piece of food is gone.
Continuity The standing lamp on the right of the screen next to Judge Broomfield moves to the right when the Judge says "nevertheless, it is my duty...".
Factual Mistake In the opening scene in South Africa, Gandhi is riding first class on a steam locomotive. The first class car is shown as the forward car, closest to the engine. In passenger steam engines, first class would be the rearmost car, farthest away from the engine's heat and exhaust. Second or third class would be nearest the engine.
Factual Mistake The Hoisting of the Indian Flag on independence is shown to happen in broad daylight when in reality, it took place at Midnight.
Factual Mistake In the movie, The South African police were shown both arresting and beating Gandhi for burning passes during his protest of the Pass Law. Although Mohandas K. Gandhi and his fellow protesters were arrested for burning the passes, in reality neither Gandhi or any of the protesters were ever beaten by the police during the protest.
Factual Mistake Lord Irwin, in real life, was born with a withered left arm with no hand. However, he is shown several times in the movie with both a left and right hand.
Factual Mistake At the cricket match, there are 12 fielders on the pitch (4 leg-side, 6 off-side, plus bowler & keeper.)
Miscellaneous While it is true that electricity was unavailable to most Indian villages during Mohandas K. Gandhi's lifetime, it can be expected that poles supporting what seem to be power lines along the railroad right-of-way during Gandhi's tour of India are instead supporting telegraph lines, some of which were in place as early as the 1850s.
Revealing Mistakes In the massacre scene General Dyer is pacing back and forth between the two rows of firing soldiers. Right before the cut to the crowd he steps in front of a standing soldier firing.
While filming in some of the more rural villages in India, with Ben Kingsley in full make-up as Gandhi, some of the older members of the communities were confused as they thought they were seeing the real man again.
The Indian government provided one third of the film's budget.
Ben Kingsley studied for the part by watching five hours of newsreel footage of Gandhi in one sitting.
It was originally intended in the funeral scene to use a wax effigy of Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. However, on the day, it was clear to Richard Attenborough that the wax dummy would fool no one so Kingsley was asked to lie on the funeral pyre. He kept his eyes shut throughout, despite having petals rain down on him constantly.
Ben Kingsley learned to spin cloth in the same way that Gandhi did. He didn't find this to be particularly challenging. Instead, the real problem he encountered was to spin and talk at the same time which he had major difficulties trying to master.
Both Winston Churchill and Charles Chaplin are mentioned in the film. Richard Attenborough directed biopics of each of these men: Young Winston (1972) and Chaplin (1992) respectively.
Illness prevented cinematographer Billy Williams from completing the film. Ronnie Taylor flew out from England to assist him and ended up completing cinematographic duties. Both men were awarded Oscars for their work on Gandhi (1982).
The Ian Charleson part was first intended for Michael Denison.
The film takes place from June 7, 1893 to January 31, 1948.
When he won the part, Ben Kingsley decamped to India and lived as best he could as Gandhi himself.
John Hurt and Tom Courtenay were among the actors approached by Richard Attenborough about playing the lead role. Ben Kingsley was recommended for the role by Harold Pinter, who had seen him in a play; Pinter made the suggestion to Sam Spiegel, an associate of Attenborough's.
Martin Sheen donated his salary to charity.
In the DVD director's commentary, Richard Attenborough mistakenly says that Ian Charleson died of cancer. This is not the case, Charleson died of an AIDS-related illness in 1990, the first mainstream British celebrity to do so. Upon his death, Charleson requested that the full cause of his demise be made public in order to bring greater awareness of the disease.
A duplicate of the film's Best Picture Oscar is on display at the "World of Coca-Cola" exhibit in Atlanta, Georgia. Columbia, the film's distributor, was owned by the Coca-Cola Company at the time.
Features Bernard Hill in a small role. Hill would go on to appear in a Best Picture Oscar winner for each of the following decades: Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).
Last English-language cinema film of Dominic Guard. He has since had a long career in British television and a cameo in the French film The Man Who Lost His Shadow (1991).
Gerald Sim (Magistrate) was the brother-in-law of the director Richard Attenborough.
The film shot for 12 months and used up 23,000 feet of film.
Gandhi's funeral scene employed 400,000 extras which makes it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest number of extras in one scene. This is a record that is likely to remain, as huge crowd scenes these days are largely done via CGI. The extras were not paid, they were all volunteers who came to honor the memory of Gandhi. This scene was shot on 31st January 1981, the 33rd anniversary of Gandhi's assassination, and employed 19 different cameras.
In 1952 Gabriel Pascal secured an agreement from the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru, to make a film of Gandhi's life. However, Pascal died two years later before preparations were completed.
In 1962, Richard Attenborough received a phone call from an Indian civil servant called Motilai Kothari who was working with the Indian High Commission in London. Kothari was a devout follower of Gandhi and was convinced that Attenborough would be the perfect choice to make a film about him. Attenborough read Louis Fischer's biography of the Indian statesman and agreed with Motilai, though it would take him 18 years to fulfil the dream. His first act was to meet with the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, as well as Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. Nehru approved of his plan and promised to help support the production but his death in 1964 was just one in a long line of setbacks.
David Lean and Sam Spiegel planned to make a film about Gandhi with Alec Guinness as the Mahatma after they'd finished The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) but then they opted to make Lawrence of Arabia (1962) instead.
By the late 60s, Richard Attenborough was still struggling to get the film made. Figuring that David Lean might still be interested in the project, he approached the world-renowned director who agreed to make the film but then changed his mind to go make Ryan's Daughter (1970) instead.
The 12th highest grossing film in the US in 1982.
Ben Kingsley prepared for his role by studying newsreel footage of Gandhi, reading books on and by the man, dieting, losing weight, practicing Yoga and learning to spin thread just as Gandhi did.
Ben Kingsley looked so much like Mohandas K. Gandhi, many natives thought him to be Gandhi's ghost.
Ben Kingsley's (born Krishna Bhanji) paternal family was from the Indian state of Gujarat, the same state Mohandas K. Gandhi was from. He took his stage name from the very same Kingsley Hall in London where Gandhi stayed on his visit in 1931.
Dustin Hoffman had expressed an early desire to play the title role in Gandhi (1982), but was offered Tootsie (1982) the same year and ended up taking the latter role. He eventually lost the Oscar that year to Ben Kingsley who played Mohandas K. Gandhi.
There is a scene where Gandhi is insulted by walking on the side walk of South Africa by some young boys. One of them is none other than Daniel Day-Lewis.
300,000 extras appeared in the funeral sequence. About 200,000 were volunteers and 94,560 were paid a small fee (under contract). The sequence was filmed on 31st Jan 1981, the 33rd anniversary of Mohandas K. Gandhi's funeral. 11 crews shot over 20,000 feet of film, which was pared down to 125 seconds in the final release.
Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila Sim owned a share of the rights in Britain's longest-running play "The Mousetrap" which they sold to fund the production of this movie.
Mohandas K. Gandhi (played by Ben Kingsley) travels to London, he stays at Kingsley Hall. This is a historical coincidence, and not a cute reference by the filmmakers.
Richard Attenborough won the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for this film, even though he had expected, and hoped, that Steven Spielberg would win for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Attenborough would later work with Spielberg in Jurassic Park (1993), while Ben Kingsley appeared later that same year in Schindler's List (1993), which finally won Spielberg the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars.
Some say that Steven Spielberg cast Richard Attenborough as John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993) as thanks for his support on Oscar night when Gandhi (1982) trounced E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
No studio was interested in financing the film. Richard Attenborough cited that most of the financing were solicited from: 1. Joseph E. Levine who agreed to finance in exchange of Attenborough directing A Bridge Too Far (1977) and Magic (1978). 2. The sale of the ownership share of "The Mousetrap". 3. Jake Eberts, a friend of Attenborough. The remaining of the money were solicited from major companies in England minus the BBC.
This first of the three features that Roshan Seth plays Nehru. The other ones were the TV series Bharat Ek Khoj and a TV movie The Last Days of the Raj.
For the funeral scene, advertisements calling for 400,000 extras were either distributed in pamphlets and by newspapers in Delhi. Extras were not allowed to wear anything other than white and as part of security measures, turnstiles were built at selected entry points for crowd control. The crew bought any clothing that was not white.
In John Ratzenberger's brief scene, his voice is dubbed.
It was Michael Attenborough, Richard Attenborough's son, who recommended Ben Kingsley to his father.
Richard Attenborough first offered Candice Bergen her cameo role in 1966 while they were filming The Sand Pebbles (1966).
Before filming, Richard Attenborough turned down Geraldine James' request to have an audio recording of the real Madeleine Slade / Mirabehn as part of researching the role. Instead she was told to play it straight like a normal English woman. Later she discovered the reason: after filming she was allowed to listen to the recording (taped between Attenborough and Slade in Austria) only to discover that Slade talks with an Indian accent, having spent 34 years in India talking in Hindi as well. It was James' friend, casting director Susie Figgis who recommended her for the role.
Trevor Howard shot his cameo as Judge Broomfield in two days.
Alec Guinness, Albert Finney, Peter Finch, Tom Courtney, Dirk Bogarde, and Anthony Hopkins were all originally considered for the role of Mohandas K. Gandhi.
The last film of John Boxer and Sir John Clements.
Part of an early 1980s cycle of British productions set in India. These included Gandhi (1982), Heat and Dust (1983), The Far Pavilions (1984), A Passage to India (1984), Octopussy (1983) and The Jewel in the Crown (1984).
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