Patron Saint of Boomers: Gandhi (1982)


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There are a few films on the Vatican film list James and Thomas haven't been looking forward to watching. Among them is Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, and our dread was due to the suspicion that this film, certainly negligible in its historical importance as a work of cinema, was included mainly because Vatican bureaucrats of a certain age are apt to confuse Mohandas K. Gandhi with a Catholic saint. (Though to be fair, the film was included under the heading of Values, not Religion.)

The reasons for its inclusion aside, our suspicion was confirmed at least in that this enjoyable and well-crafted biopic in no way deserves a place on the Vatican's list of 45 important films.

Gandhi, driven by Ben Kingsley's outstanding performance as the title character, is in many ways an inspiring picture of nonviolent resistance. However, it has been pointed out that this film presents a Gandhi sanitized (and we mean that quite literally) for Western consumption, leaving out his essential Hinduism, as well as his many inconsistencies, eccentricities and flaws. It is a work of boomer hagiography, from a secularized Western Christian perspective.

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Next on Criteria, we are watching the seventh installment of Dekalog, the classic Polish series of short films inspired by the Ten Commandments. Dekalog can be difficult to find. It can be streamed online with a (relatively cheap and surprisingly legal) subscription to—the best viewing experience, however, will be the recent restored edition on Blu-Ray/DVD from Criterion.

Older editions on Blu-Ray and DVD are available for considerably cheaper on Amazon and elsewhere, and you may have luck borrowing Dekalog from your local library.

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