Chariots of Fire

This is the story of two men who run, not to run, but to prove something to the world. They will sacrifice anything to achieve their goals... except their honor.

Drama History
124 min     6.794     1981     United Kingdom


In the class-obsessed and religiously divided UK of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God's glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart in his single-minded quest.


CinemaSerf wrote:
The opening bars of the Oscar-winning Vangelis score coupled with the shot of the athletes running along the beach, barefoot, at St. Andrews is amongst the most iconic opening scenes from any film, but somehow the rest of this strays all too often into mediocrity thereafter. It tells the story of two British athletes who strove to thrive at the Olympiad in Paris in 1924. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) comes from a Lithuanian Jewish background. who is welcomed to Cambridge University, but never quite accepted. The other is Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian who comes from missionary stock and who believes that he must serve God before himself - and that includes not running any races on the Sabbath. Both of these men have considerable athletic skills, and the story intertwines their efforts to get to the Games, whilst both must deal with their differing priorities and challenges. It's this middle portion of the film, the prologued character development phase, that all plods along too slowly. It has too little pace and too many characters, and that just drags the film down. The last fifteen minutes liven up considerably though, not just with the events on the track - but amongst those determined to ensure that the whole team attains success making sacrifices and compromises along the way. It has a classy look to it, the costumes and settings are top drawer, but I found the leading performances rather disjointed and at over two hours long, I did struggle to stay engaged.