Gandhi

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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 22 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).

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byGabriella A. October 28, 2019

Helps build empathy and historical context

I watched this movie as a fourth grader, and actually used some of this great leader's tactics with bullies in school. The violence in the movie disturbed... Continue reading
Adult Written bySkyler B. May 3, 2018
Teen, 15 years old Written bybadderanarchy August 3, 2009
this movie is boring
Kid, 12 years old September 20, 2019

The Perfect Film includes positive messages and some graphic violence.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way. Some characters smoke. Racist language and bas***d are used (infrequent). The film opens with a very upsetting sequ... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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