“Gandhi” (1982), an epic but intimate biographical film, was his greatest triumph.
[It] was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won eight, including best picture, best director, best cinematography, best original screenplay and best actor (Mr. Kingsley).
Mr. Attenborough brought the film to fruition after a 20-year battle to raise money and interest often reluctant Hollywood producers, one of whom famously predicted that there would be no audience for “a little brown man in a sheet carrying a beanstalk.” (Mr. Attenborough ended up producing it himself.)
Mr. Attenborough mortgaged his house in a London suburb, sold works of art and, as he put it, spent “so much money I couldn’t pay the gas bill.”
The film had 430 speaking parts and used over 300,000 extras for Gandhi’s funeral. No one expected it to recoup its $22 million cost, but it wound up earning 20 times that amount.
Attenborough was 59 years old at the time. Who else would take such a risk at that point in his life?