Sunday, 12 June 2011

Gandhi - a student's film review

Another one of my geography films of the week, from a while ago, is also set in India. Gandhi, a film made in 1982, is a film (as the title suggests) that depicts the life of Gandhi.

On the back of the DVD it says that "Gandhi was not a ruler of nations, nor did he have scientific gifts. Yet this small, modest man did what others before him could not. He led an entire country to freedom - he gave his people hope." and that is excatly what he did. He achieved so much for the people of India and, rightly so, is a greatly remembered and celebrated man. There are statues and pictures of him everywhere in India and he also features on their currency and this film tells the story of his life from when he arrived in South Africa in 1893 right up until he was assasinated in Delhi in 1948, with particular focus on India's struggle for freedom from colonial rule from 1915 onwards.

The first part of the film portrays Gandhi's struggle to force the South African Government to end the discrimination against the Asian community. From this struggle, the film provides you with an insight into life in South Africa at this time and this insight enables you to make contrasts to what India was like during a similar period. The majority of the film though is set in India from 1915 onwards, the year in which Gandhi returned to his home country after 20 years away and was driven around the streets of Bombay and deeply hurt and shocked by the poverty he saw.  The film, which I have to point out is 3 hours in length, from then on, focuses on the key events in the sturggle, led by Gandhi, for India's freedom from colonial rule. This includes scenes such as the horrific massacre at Amritsar, 1919,  in an enclosed courtyard, where the British opened fire on 15 000 unarmed men, women and children, killing 400 and severly injuring 1500 and this is just one of the examples of violenced used to try and dilute this movement. Another is the dramatic march to the sea where Gandhi led thousands of his fellow Indians to prove that sea salt belonged to all and was not just a British commodity. In the end India is granted freedom from British colonial rule but this was not gained without further bloodshed. The scenes of endless lines of refugees fleeing, in opposite directions, along the new border between India and Pakistan are very memorable and act as a reminder that peace was never truly achieved despite Gandhi's best efforts to peacefully gain freedom. The final scenes, which re-enact Gandhi's funeral, which was clearly a celebration of his life, just re-enforce the feeling of thanks and love felt by many people that is conveyed throughtout the biopic

So, do I feel it is a good Geography film? The film consists of many stunning images of the Indian landscape and, via the vivid images, it provides an insight into Indian life. Comparing it to Slumdog Millionaire, it is possible to see that many aspects of Indian life have, unfortunately, not changed that greatly. Something that this film does demonstrate, which is not included in Slumdog Millionaire, is an insight into rural life in India, thus allowing for comparisons to be made between rural and urban living. Although I don't feel confident enough to talk about how historically correct this film is, I still feel it is a good film to watch in relation to development and the impact that colonialism has on it. Overall, I would say don't be put off by the length as despite it sounding like a really long film, when watching it, it doesn't feel like you have been sat there for 3 hours. It is a very thought provoking film, partly due to the breathtaking images, but mainly due to the way in which the unforgettable events and messages that Gandhi wanted people to hear, are conveyed.

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