Though Kingsley’s saturnine poise is much more interesting in roles which call for varying degrees of slipperiness, he nevertheless manages to bring shades into the inherently monochromatic saintliness of the role with life-sized, profoundly felt gravity and dignity, all while executing that marvelous, peculiarly British trick (remember Robert Donat in Goodbye, Mr. Chips) of seeming to age from within.
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What is important about this film is not that it serves as a history lesson (although it does) but that, at a time when the threat of nuclear holocaust hangs ominously in the air, it reminds us that we are, after all, human, and thus capable of the most extraordinary and wonderful achievements, simply through the use of our imagination, our will, and our sense of right.
Grand in scope, the best thing here is still Sir Ben Kingsley's central performance; the film will always deserve to be seen for this alone.
Neither Mr. Attenborough nor John Briley, who wrote the screenplay, are particularly adventurous filmmakers. Yet in some ways their almost obsessively middle-brow approach—their fondness for the gestures of conventional biographical cinema—seems self-effacing in a fashion suitable to the subject. Since Roberto Rossellini is not around to examine Gandhi in a film that would itself reflect the rigorous self-denial of the man, this very ordinary style is probably best.