Arts, Culture & Media

Director and actor Richard Attenborough saw film as a powerful vehicle for change


Sir Richard Attenborough


Dan Chung/Reuters

If you love movies, you're mourning the loss of Richard Attenborough. The British film legend passed away Sunday at the age of 90.

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As a director, Attenborough scored huge hits with films like Gandhi and Cry Freedom. He stood out as a filmmaker with a mission, believing popular movies had the power to make the world a better place.

Attenborough's greatest achievement was probably Gandhi, the 1982 epic starring Ben Kingsley as the hero whose moral courage and conviction enabled him to change the world. The film won eight Oscars including best actor and best director.

"Richard Attenborough trusted me with the crucial and central task of bringing to life a dream it took him 20 years to bring to fruition," Kingsley said. "When he gave me the part of Gandhi it was with great grace and joy. He placed in me an absolute trust and in turn I placed an absolute trust in him and grew to love him."

After Gandhi he directed Cry Freedom, the story of murdered black South African activist Steve Biko and Donald Woods, the white journalist who took up his cause. He also directed many other films including a version of Joan Littlewood's anti-war satire Oh! What a Lovely War and the war epic A Bridge Too Far.

But Attenborough was also a world-class actor. For his beloved role in Jurassic Park, Attenborough won the admiration of director Steven Spielberg. He remembered Attenborough as a man passionate about everything in his life.

"He made a gift to the world with his emotional epic Gandhi and he was the perfect ringmaster to bring the dinosaurs back to life as John Hammond in Jurassic Park," he said.

"He was a dear friend and I am standing in an endless line of those who completely adored him."

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Shadowlands (1993): One of Attenborough's first directed films about the relationship between author C.S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman.

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Gandhi (1982): Richard Attenborough won the 1983 Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture.

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Jurassic Park (1993): Richard Attenborough returned to the screen after an acting hiatus to play the part of John Hammond, the dinosaur theme park director, in Steven Spielberg's blockbuster.