The movie Gandhi starts off with the assassination of Gandhi on January 30, 1948. He was killed because of the split of Hindus and Muslims into Pakistan and India, instead of trying to keep the country united (which was impossible at the time). The story then jumps back to Gandhi early in his life, when he is a practicing attorney. He is traveling in South Africa on a train and is thrown off because he refuses to give up his first class seat. The conductor wants him to move because he is Indian. This upsets him and he organizes a burning of the discriminatory codes. The protestors are arrested and released.
Gandhi is motivated by religious means; he believes that everyone is equal in God's eyes. He gets involved in several movements for equality, and he stresses non-violence very strongly. The Indians are very mad because British rule continues to limit their rights. They are supposed to all get fingerprinted, and their marriage laws are invalid. Gandhi's followers vow to fight their oppressors to the death, but he discourages them from violence.
He and his wife form a sort of commune of purity. They live off of the land entirely. During one scene, they ask all of Gandhi's followers to burn all of their clothes that were made in Britain and wear only what they can make themselves. Gandhi practices this for the rest of his life, usually wearing just a loincloth.
In another scene, Gandhi is in jail, and some of his followers are peacefully gathered in a square. The police lock up the square and kill almost everyone, over 1,500 people. Gandhi is disgusted and discouraged. He continues to preach non-violence, but the Indians do have occasional conflict with the police. Gandhi's counter to the popular phrase "an eye for an eye" says that after that, "everyone will be blind." Gandhi leads several organized protests against British rule. In one, all Indians stopped doing their work, and the major cities in the country were disabled....
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