Poverty is the worst kind of violence
Gandhi the film took a long time to come to fruition, indeed it took director Sir Richard Attenborough over 20 years to get it made, and it was being thought about long before that. It became then, something of an obsession to be completed, with the final result being all there on the screen – a true epic. Of course, as with all biopics, it has to be taken with a grain of salt, a lot of the events depicted did take place, and in the order they are shown, but the motives and outcomes are slightly fanciful. As is the character of Gandhi, himself, it being a montage of his best bits, rather than a complete whole. This is especially true of the events in South Africa. It could be argued that Gandhi the movie paints the man in nothing but a glowing light; at the time the word ‘saint’ was banded about. I’d go one further, his words, charisma and philosophy could, 2000 years ago, perhaps have given birth to the three major religions. He is still revered, and we are unlikely to ever see his like again.
Emotive, empathic and engaging
There is though, no doubt, that the impact of the man is still being felt. And Attenborough effortlessly allows the audience to grow along side Gandhi, as he uses his non-aggressive tactics to take on injustice as he sees it. Whether that is racial prejudice or the presence of imperialistic masters in his own country, by taking a stance that forced others to look at themselves, he quite literally changed the world (whether his actual impact was quite so dramatic as depicted in the film is debatable).
And Attenborough gets it all through the lens. Of course, it helps to have majestic locations in which to shoot, and to have the best of the best of the best of acting talent (the cast list reads like a who’s who of greats), superlative cinematography and being able to tell a simple story about a complex man and situations, that is emotive, empathic and engaging. Gandhi is every bit a classic – it is powerful, engaging and truly heartfelt.
Gandhi 4K Video
Gandhi was shot using Panavision Cameras on 35mm film, with this release gaining brand new restoration from scanning the original camera negative with additional clean up and colour correction to form a native 4K DI. The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Gandhi on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
This new scan is a marvel; the detail on show is incredible; from the homespun cloth, to the grey in Gandhi’s moustache, from the ornate splendour of the British estates, to the wide open vistas of India, to the dirt and grime in the poverty stricken areas to the lush wall coverings in the manors; crowds, oh crowds are spectacular! The only softness you’ll encounter is from the camera lenses used for the original source.
And the whole is exquisitely topped off with WGC and HDR that energises the image to something sublime. It is a warm picture; all the primaries are perfectly represented, the greens of the landscape, the reds of the clothing, the blues of the sky; check out the how gold the temples are, or how intense fire is – any of the sunsets are magical. Flesh tones are spot on as well.
Black levels are deep and strong adding depth, but the white end is where it really shines; the film uses much white, predominantly as clothing and never does it clip, there is detail even in the brightest white.
The original source is perfect, there are no digital issues, and the grain is intact and flows, giving rise to a fabulously filmic image – outstanding.
Note: The film is split into two discs, the break is the during the film's ‘intermission’ but sadly it does not pause and allow you to enter the second disc to continue on uninterrupted, the first disc goes back to menu with the second disc booting up normally to menu.
Gandhi 4K Audio
The Dolby Atmos track has a few opportunities to really shine; the riots, the many crowd scenes, trains speeding by, the whamph of the steam engines, the massacre – the 3D realism of the track is beyond reproach, with the overhead channels adding much to the immersion. Dialogue is clear and natural and given plenty of directionality when required. The score, such as it is, also makes good use of 3D space.
Bass is well realised and tight, LF effects are a little limited, being used for gun shots, train movement, plane engines, the odd rumble of thunder, and, best of all, horse hooves trampling the ground. Ambient effects, such as in wide halls, Gandhi’s compound etc. fill the room and sound very natural. Not a bombastic track, for sure, but one that is a delight.
Gandhi 4K Extras
UHD (Disc 2)
Blu-ray (1) Previously available
Audio Commentary – With director Richard Attenborough
Gandhi's Legacy: A Picture-In-Graphics Track
Introduction by Sir Richard Attenborough
Blu-ray (2) Previously available
In Search of Gandhi
Madeline Slade: An Englishwoman Abroad
Reflections on Ben
Shooting an Epic in India
From the Director’s Chair
The Words of Mahatma Gandhi
The Making of Gandhi Photo Montage
DVD - Yes these still exist!
Mr Attenborough and Mr Gandhi - 50 minute documentary
Excerpts from Columbia 50 year Anniversary TV Special - Hosted by Orson Wells, featuring clips and interviews.
Hard Back Book – Full colour containing write ups about the film, essays and restoration notes.
Gandhi 4K Verdict
Gandhi 4K Blu-ray Review
Gandhi may have taken over 20 years to come to the big screen, but director Sir Richard Attenborough made sure it was worth it; telling a simple story about a complex man in complex politics is every bit a classic; lavish locations, sublime acting talent and gorgeous cinematography. The film was nominated for and won numerous Academy Awards, not that that is normally any indication of actual quality, except that in this case it is.
Every bit a classic
This Gandhi 4K UHD is only available as part of the Columbia Classics Box Set. It has been newly scanned and remastered in native 4K with Dolby Atmos sound track; the picture is absolutely stunning with tremendous detail and beautifully coloured, being rich and lustrous while remaining filmic in nature. The sound is natural, well mixed with decent 3D representation with some good bass. There are a whole host of extras spread over both the UHD and the included Blu-rays. The set as a whole is absolutely stunning and a must have.
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