Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quotes That Make Me Cry

From the film Gandhi.

My most favorite quote:

"NEHRU (pleadingly): What do you want?

GANDHI (a moment): That the fighting will stop – that you make me believe it will never start again."


"Edward R. Murrow, who sits on the makeshift platform, a microphone marked "CBS" before him, describing the procession as technicians and staff move quietly around him.

MURROW (clipped, weighted): . . . The object of this massive tribute died as he had always lived – a private man without wealth, without property, without official title or office . . .


As the cortege continues on its way, we get shots of the marching soldiers, of the faces of Sikhs, and Tamils, Anglo-Indians, Moslems from the north, Marathas from the south, blue-eyed Parsees, dark-skinned Keralans . . .

MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands, he could boast no scientific achievements, no artistic gift . . . Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom . . .

We see the throng, following the weapon-carrier bier of Gandhi as it slowly inches its way along the Kingsway. Mountbatten, tall, handsome, bemedalled, walks at the head of dignitaries from many lands . . . and behind them a broad mass of Indians. For a moment we see their sandalled feet moving along the roadway and realize their quiet, rhythmic shuffling is the only noise this vast assemblage has produced.

MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: Pope Pius, the Archbishop of Canterbury, President Truman, Chiang Kai-shek, The Foreign Minister of Russia, the President of France . . . are among the millions here and abroad who have lamented his passing. In the words of General George C. Marshall, the American Secretary of State, "Mahatma Gandhi had become the spokesman for the conscience of mankind . . ."

In the crowd following the bier we pick out the tall, English figure of Mirabehn, dressed in a sari, her face taut in a grief that seems ready to break like the Ganges in flood. Near her a tall, heavy-set man, Germanic, still powerful of build and mien though his white hair and deep lines suggest a man well into his sixties (Kallenbach). He too marches with a kind of numb air of loss that is too personal for national mourning.

On the edge of the street an American newspaperman (Walker) watches as the bier passes him. He has been making notes, but his hand stops now and we see the profile of Gandhi from his point of view as the weapon-carrier silently rolls by. It is personal, close. Walker clenches his teeth and there is moisture in his eyes as he looks down. He tries to bring his attention to his pad again, but his heart is not in it and he stares with hollow emptiness at the street and the horde of passing feet following the bier.

MURROW'S VOICE-OVER: . . . a man who made humility and simple truth more powerful than empires." And Albert Einstein added, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."


"CHARLIE: What do you want me to do?

Gandhi looks up – his anger, his determination there, but then broken by a hopeless sigh.

GANDHI: I think, Charlie, that you can help us most by taking that assignment you've been offered in Fiji.

Charlie is stunned, and obviously hurt. Gandhi proceeds more gently.

GANDHI: I have to be sure – they have to be sure – that what we do can be done by Indians . . . alone.

And now Charlie understands. Gandhi smiles; warmth, and sadness. Then he speaks with a determined purposefulness, a friend's trust.

GANDHI: But you know the strategy. The world is full of people who will despise what's happening here. It is their strength we need. Before you go, you could start us in the right direction.

He has taken some scratched notes from under the bedding and handed them to Charlie. Charlie nods. He sighs, and rises slowly.

CHARLIE: I must leave from Calcutta, and soon. You'll have to say goodbye to Ba for me.

Gandhi rises, glancing wryly at the prison walls. He nods.

GANDHI: When I get the chance.

And now he faces Charlie; this is the moment of farewell.

CHARLIE: Well, I –

He doesn't know what to say, how to say it. Gandhi meets his eyes – a smile that shelters Charlie's vulnerability, returns his love.

GANDHI: There are no goodbyes for us, Charlie. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart . . .

The very English, very steadfast Charlie fights to contain his emotions."

As do I!


"MIRABEHN (her own honesty): I don't know . . . I know you are right. I don't know that this is right.

Gandhi signals her down to him. She bends so she is looking at the floor and he is speaking almost into her ear.

GANDHI (hoarse, strained): When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won.

We intercut their faces, very close, as he speaks.

GANDHI: There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it – always . . . When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be . . . think of that.

During the very last of it Mirabehn has turned her face to him, touched with emotion.

GANDHI (the paternal smile): And then – try to do it His way. (A tear runs down Mirabehn's face. She touches his shoulder. Gandhi just leans his head back in exhaustion.) And now – could I have another feast of lemon juice?

Mirabehn straightens up, smiling, wiping the tear from her cheek"


"WALKER: "They walked, with heads up, without music, or cheering, or any hope of escape from injury or death." (His voice is taut, harshly professional.) "It went on and on and on. Women carried the wounded bodies from the ditch until they dropped from exhaustion. But still it went on."

He shifts the mangled notes and comes to his last paragraph. He speaks it trying only half successfully to keep the emotion from his voice.

WALKER: "Whatever moral ascendance the West held was lost today. India is free for she has taken all that steel and cruelty can give, and she has neither cringed nor retreated."


"BOURKE-WHITE: But do you really believe you could use non-violence against someone like Hitler?

GANDHI (a thoughtful pause): Not without defeats – and great pain. (He looks at her.) But are there no defeats in this war – no pain? (For a moment the thought hangs, and then Gandhi takes their hands back to the spinning.) What you cannot do is accept injustice. From Hitler – or anyone. You must make the injustice visible – be prepared to die like a soldier to do so."

GANDHI: Every enemy is a human being – even the worst of them. And he believes he is right and you are a beast. (And now a little smile.) And if you beat him over the head you will only convince him. But you suffer, to show him that he is wrong, your sacrifice creates an atmosphere of understanding – if not with him, then in the hearts of the rest of the community on whom he depends.

Bourke-White looks at him and there is enough sense in this argument to give her pause.

GANDHI: If you are right, you will win – after much pain. (He looks at her, then smiles in his own ironic way.) If you are wrong, well, then, only you will suffer the blows.

She stares at him, and we know she thinks him much more profound than she had thought initially."


"HINDU YOUTH: Bapu – please. Don't do it!

They are all awed, timid even in his actual presence, and the mood of their gathering has changed altogether. Gandhi looks at the youth and the line of others.

GANDHI (impatiently): What do you want me not to do? Not to meet with Mr. Jinnah? (Fiercely) I am a Muslim! (He stares at them, then relents.) And a Hindu, and a Christian and a Jew – and so are all of you. When you wave those flags and shout you send fear into the hearts of your brothers.

He sweeps them sternly with his eyes, all his fatigue and strain showing.

GANDHI: This is not the India I want. Stop it. For God's sake, stop it."


"(Nahari) lingers. Suddenly he moves violently toward Gandhi, taking a flat piece of Indian bread (chapati) from his trousers and tossing it forcefully on Gandhi.


Mirabehn and Azad start to move toward him – the man looks immensely strong and immensely unstable. But Gandhi holds up a shaking hand, stopping them. Nahari's face is knotted in emotion, half anger, half almost a child's fear – but there is a wild menace in that instability.

NAHARI: Eat! I am going to hell – but not with your death on my soul.

GANDHI: Only God decides who goes to hell . . .

NAHARI (stiffening, aggressive): I – I killed a child . . . (Then an anguished defiance) I smashed his head against a wall.

Gandhi stares at him, breathless.

GANDHI (in a fearful whisper): Why? Why?

It is as though the man has told him of some terrible self-inflicted wound.

NAHARI (tears now – and wrath): They killed my son – my boy!

Almost reflexively he holds his hand out to indicate the height of his son. He glares at Suhrawardy and then back at Gandhi.

NAHARI: The Muslims killed my son . . . they killed him.

He is sobbing, but in his anger it seems almost as though he means to kill Gandhi in retaliation. A long moment, as Gandhi meets his pain and wrath. Then

GANDHI: I know a way out of hell.

Nahari sneers, but there is just a flicker of desperate curiosity.

GANDHI: Find a child – a child whose mother and father have been killed. A little boy – about this high.

He raises his hand to the height Nahari has indicated as his son's.

GANDHI: . . . and raise him – as your own.

Nahari has listened. His face almost cracks – it is a chink of light, but it does not illumine his darkness.

GANDHI: Only be sure . . . that he is a Muslim. And that you raise him as one.

And now the light falls on Nahari. His face stiffens, he swallows, fighting any show of emotion; then he turns to go. But he takes only a step and he turns back, going to his knees, the sobs breaking again and again from his heaving body as he holds his head to Gandhi's feet"


"BOURKE-WHITE: There's a sadness in him.

It's an observation – and a question. Mirabehn accedes gravely.

MIRABEHN: He thinks he's failed.

Bourke-White stares at her, then turns to look out at him.

BOURKE-WHITE: Why? My God, if anything's proved him right, it's what's happened these last months . . .

Mirabehn nods, but she keeps on spinning and tries to sound cynically resigned but her innate emotionalism keeps breaking through in her voice and on her face.... It is laced with pain.

MIRABEHN: I am blinded by my love of him, but I think when we most needed it, he offered the world a way out of madness. But he doesn't see it . . . and neither does the world."


"GANDHI'S VOICE (weak, struggling, as he spoke the words to Mirabehn): . . . There have been tyrants and murderers – and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it – always . . . When you are in doubt that that is God's way, the way the world is meant to be . . . think of that.

And slowly the camera begins pulling back, leaving the flowers, the brown, rolling current as though leaving the story of Gandhi, going far out, away from the great river, reaching higher and higher, through streaks of clouds as end titles begin.

And through them, once more we hear, dimly, reminiscently, through the rushing wind:

"At home children are writing 'essays' about him!" . . . the croaky voice singing, "God save our gracious King" . . . Dyer: "Sergeant Major –," the Sergeant Major: "Take aim!," Dyer: "Fire!," the
sound of massed rifle fire, screams . . . "You are my best friend . . . my highest guru, and my sovereign lord." "Who the hell is he?," "I don't know, sir." "My name is Gandhi. Mohandas K. Gandhi." . . . the sound of rioting, women's screams, terror . . . "Find a child – a child whose mother and father have been killed. A little boy . . . about this high." . . . "He thinks he's failed." . . . "Long live Mahatma Gandhi! . . . Long live Mahatma Gandhi!"

Yes, long live Gandhiji!