Gandhi

Movie review by
Liz Perle, Common Sense Media
Gandhi Movie Poster Image
Brilliant biopic engages, educates, and inspires.
  • PG
  • 1982
  • 190 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 19 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

India, a country of millions, managed to overthrow foreign rule through an unprecedented policy governed by nonviolent protest of unfair laws and domination.

Positive role models & representations

By teaching nonviolent disobedience, Mohandas Gandhi led a continent to self-rule. When the frustrated Indian citizenry lapsed into violence, Gandhi fasted until near death to persuade his fellow Indians that violence merely begat more violence. If they attained their freedom by violence, he told them, he wanted no part of it. He demonstrates integrity, humility, perseverance, and courage.

Violence

The film chronicles a period of conflict in South African and Indian history, between whites and darker-skinned people, British and Indians, and Hindus and Muslims. Gandhi is thrown off a train in South Africa because his skin is dark. He and other protesters are beaten by white authorities in South Africa and later by British soldiers and affiliated police in India. British soldiers are shown carrying out a graphic massacre, gunning down 1,500 unarmed, peacefully gathered Indian protesters, including women and children. A large, angry mob of Indians attacks government police officers, setting their station on fire and killing some when they come running out of the burning building. Hindus and Muslims beat each other in riots.

Sex
Language

A white man calls Gandhi a "Kaffir," which is an Afrikaans ethnic slur; although once a neutral description of a black person, by the 20th century it was commonly used in South Africa as a denigrating and offensive racial term.

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink alcohol in seeming moderation. Cigarette smoking is depicted.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gandhi begins with Gandhi's assassination and shows brutal beatings and a violent depiction of a shooting massacre. That said, this movie provides a brilliant way to learn about history and about the spiritual principles of nonviolence, tolerance, and self-sacrifice. It's advisable to break the movie over two nights (there is an intermission).

User Reviews

Adult Written byFinneylm April 9, 2008

Excellent movie to revisit with your children

I saw this movie long ago when it first came out and decided a few weeks ago to watch it with my 10 year old daughter. She loved the movie. I beleive that she... Continue reading
Educator and Parent of a 4 and 8 year old Written byKasloColorado March 13, 2016

A Great Movie to Discuss with Your Kids

My son, 8, was upset that some of his friends at school were bullying another friend. He didn't know how to deal with it. I wanted my son to see that the... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

Inspirational and Excellent!

Gandhi is the inspirational tale of one man's fight for a free India. It shows you that you don't have to fight violent wars to get what you want. Gan... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMonocle Man December 1, 2011

Excellent film

I think it is amazing that people call this a boring movie. I suppose some other teens can't handle a film without 24/7 violence. If your child has an atte... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Richard Attenborough's extensive biopic GHANDI begins as the influential Indian spiritual and political leader (Ben Kingsley) takes a stand against the Pass Laws in South Africa and implements his methods of nonviolent protest for the first time. The film spans Gandhi's adult life, showing how his spiritual principles of equality, tolerance, and nonviolence inspired India to push for independence from British rule. The movie pulls no punches in showing the violence that came out of the partition of India into India and Pakistan.

Is it any good?

Weighing in at more than three hours, this amazing biopic is a must-see for families with an interest in history or civil rights. Ben Kingsley is brilliant as Gandhi, and the cast includes such luminaries as Sir John Gielgud, Candice Bergen, Martin Sheen, Roshan Seth, Trevor Howard, and Edward Fox. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what motivated Gandhi and why people followed him. How was he a different kind of leader?

  • What parallels to the American civil rights movement do you see?

  • What can modern leaders learn from Gandhi?

  • How does Gandhi demonstrate perseverance and courage? What about integrity and humility? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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