1982, UK / India
Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi is an almost legendary film, and rightly so. One of the greatest men in history, the filmed version of Mohandas Gandhi’s life, propelled by an Oscar-winning performance by Ben Kingsley, is a powerful piece of filmmaking. Throughout his life, Gandhi battled institutionalized injustice and racism in South Africa and India, eventually winning Indian independence from Britain. And he did all this through non-violent resistance, resulting in a life story, and a film, that is truly astounding. Ly boring. I meant to add that on the end of the last sentence, but I get tired even thinking about the 3 hours of this movie. Yes, yes, I know, Gandhi was an incredible man, Kingsley is an incredible actor, but pacifism take sooooo long to get anywhere. And I’m pretty sure that tactic would only work for Gandhi, probably because he looked kind of like E.T., and therefore instantly endearing. On the flip side of the coin, if you attack your government using actual violence instead of squatting on the ground and refusing to move, you often get to wear a cape and cool mask, and sometimes star in a dystopian Frank Miller comic book. And in a cultural climate based on image instead of message, Gandhi’s going to need to update his style if he wants to stay relevant and off of Mr. Blackwell’s catty fashion list. Instead of us learning from Gandhi, Gandhi should learn from these legendary and historical anti-government combatants.
1. Green Arrow. In The Dark Knight Returns, Oliver Queen has one arm, one bulging eye, and looks like something a crazy man would doodle in his own feces after wriggling out of a straightjacket. Way cooler than a shriveled Indian.
2. Osama Bin Ladin. A seven-foot tall, unimaginably rich evil-doer who lives in a network of caves and underground bunkers. If he had metal teeth or a golden hand, he’d be perfect Bond villain.
Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's second in command.
3. Timothy Kasczinsky, the Unabomber. In a sweatshirt and sunglasses, he didn’t cut a very imposing figure, but he’s still more dramatic than Gandhi’s California Raisin look.
So, while I appreciate the moral lesson taught here, I think it needs some updating for the modern world. Or at least a better costume.