Chariots of Fire 1981 (1981) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics. Runtime: 125 mins Release Date: 15 May 1981
This is one of the Oscar best pictures that actually deserved the honor. (by gachronicled)
I happened to be flipping channels today and saw this was on. Since it had been several years since I last saw it I clicked it on, but didn't mean to stay. As it happened, I found this film to be just as gripping now as it was before. My own kids started watching it, too, and enjoyed it - which was even more satisfying for me considering the kind of current junk they're used to. No, this is not an action-packed thriller, nor are there juicy love scenes between Abrahams and his actress girlfriend. There is no "colorful" language to speak of; no politically correct agenda <more>
underlying its tale of a Cambridge Jew and Scottish Christian.This is a story about what drives people internally - what pushes them to excel or at least to make the attempt to do so. It is a story about personal and societal values, loyalty, faith, desire to be accepted in society and healthy competition without the utter selfishness that characterizes so much of the athletic endeavors of our day. Certainly the characters are not alike in their motivation, but the end result is the same as far as their accomplishments.My early adolescent son whose favorite movies are all of the Star Wars movies and The Matrix couldn't stop asking questions throughout the movie he was so hooked. It was a great educational opportunity as well as entertainment. If you've never seen this film or it's been a long time, I recommend it unabashedly, regardless of the labels many have tried to give it for being slow-paced or causing boredom. In addition to the great story - based on real people and events - the photography and the music are fabulous and moving. It's no mistake that this movie has been spoofed and otherwise stolen from in the last twenty years - it's an unforgettable movie and in my opinion its bashers are those who hate Oscar winners on principle or who don't like the philosophies espoused by its protagonists.
An engrossing and powerful sports story (by FlickJunkie-2)
I enjoy sports films, especially when they are used to exemplify greater human truths. In that regard `Chariots of Fire' is one of my favorite sports films. What differentiates this film is that it is really a human story about sports rather than a pure sports story. Based on a true story, it centers on two gifted athletes and their quest to run in the 1924 Olympics. The first is Harold Abrahams Ben Cross , a haughty sprinter with an obsession for winning. Abrahams, who is Jewish, is a man with something to prove, mostly to himself. His rival is Eric Liddell Ian Charleson , the first <more>
man to ever beat him in a sprint. Liddell is a devout Christian and runs for the glory of God.There is an exquisite interplay of subtle themes in this film underlying the obvious sports tale. There is the contrast of motives. Abraham runs to validate his feeling of personal power, and his preoccupation with winning is actually motivated by his fear of losing. His quest is torturous, and ultimately his victory empty, more of a relief than a triumph. Liddell runs out of a desire to repay God for the physical gifts he has been given. He is at peace with himself, but at odds with all those who want to control him. Their rivalry represents a battle between the forces of the physical and spiritual. Other themes pervade the film. We have undercurrents of bigotry against the Jewish runner, a man of whom Cambridge was begrudgingly proud while berating him behind his back. We have sinister political attempts at manipulation in the face of Liddell's staunch integrity in adhering to his principles. Together, these forces combine to produce a film rich in drama and meaning.The film has been criticized for its inaccuracies. Some say Abraham did not suffer from anti-Semitic bigotry and that he was wildly popular at Cambridge. This does not necessarily mean he didn't feel inferior. No one can know what childhood experiences might have affected his psyche. Jackson Scholz was quoted as saying he never gave Liddell a note of encouragement on the track. I have to agree that this was a bit of Hollywood drivel that didn't need to be there. Additionally, Liddell knew weeks before that the heats would be on a Sunday, not just before the race as shown, and he was always scheduled to run the 400-meter race. The meeting of political bigwigs that allowed him to switch from the 100 to the 400 was pure fabrication to emphasize his resistance to compromising his beliefs about running on the Sabbath. However, these liberties can be forgiven because they enriched the story and did not change history in major ways.The direction by Hugh Hudson is powerful. Hudson captures the feeling and excitement of track and field competition, as well as giving us numerous beautifully photographed scenes and a wonderful period rendering. Though nominated for an Oscar, Hudson was unable to capitalize on the success of this film, and he has directed very few, mostly minor films since. The music by Vangelis is also wonderful, and it won the Best Music Oscar.Ben Cross is fantastic as Abrahams. He brings great intensity to Abrahams' single-minded obsession for winning. Cross hasn't done much film work since, but has had a long and distinguished career in TV. Ian Charleson is also excellent as Liddell, but his career went the same route as Cross'.This minor film was the sleeper of 1981, nominated for seven Academy Awards and winning four, including Best Picture. I rated it a 10/10. It combines the best elements of human drama and sport to create a potent and engrossing film.
Having just picked up 1 Feb. 2005 WB's Special Edition DVD of "Chariots of Fire", I am pleased to report that it indeed "Special"! The major improvement over the original DVD release is, of course, the presentation of the feature in its proper 1.85:1 screen ratio. The feature also has the option of a very fine commentary track by director Hugh Hudson.Disc 2 includes two outstanding documentary films. "Wings on Their Heels: The Making of Chariots of Fire", has interviews with most of the living participants. It is fascinating and very informative. The <more>
struggle of the film to get financing is covered as well as the process that took place in finding the lead actors is covered. The excitement of Oscar night, when the film took home the "Best Picture" award, is captured through the comments of those who were there.The second offering, "Chariots of Fire: A Reunion", was shot in England with the producer, director, cinematographer, and three of the actors recalling their experiences in working on the film. This is an inspired way of letting the creative people involved recall and share their involvement in film that turned out to be the highlight of their careers.Both documentary films are a joy to watch, as are the 16 minutes of scenes cut from the film, including one alternate that was used in the European release but cut for the U.S. release. There are also a couple of screen tests for Ben Cross and Ian Charleson that are interesting --and a nice theatrical trailer.An interesting side-note is that 20th Century Fox, who financed half of the $6 million budget, was not interested in releasing the film in the U.S. -- they figured Americans would not have an interest in British runners. Ironically, of the films $50 million theatrical gross, $32 million came from the WB domestic release.Now we finally have a DVD release that is worthy of that is my pick and the finest film of the 1980s. "Chariots of Fire" is a film that ranks very high on my list of all-time great films.
I beg to differ with several previous reviewers. This film is neither bland nor is it solely about professionalism vs. amateurism.This film is about what drives people to do what they do. Eric Liddell Ian Charleson runs for the glory of God, whereas Harold Abrahams Ben Cross runs to prove his worth to a society that was anti-Semitic. Even though they run for different reasons, their drive and determination spur them on. They stand up for what they believe in and refuse to sacrifice their principles because it is the easy way out. The supporting cast is also extraordinary, with Nigel <more>
Havers, Nicholas Farrell, Ian Holm and Sir John Gielgud all making important contributions to the final product. There is absolutely nothing unnecessary in this film. The writing, the direction, the acting, the dialogue are all outstanding. And then there's that haunting score. Once again, this is truly an outstanding film. One with universal themes that transcend time and place.
It IS A Big Deal, In More Ways Than One (by ccthemovieman-1)
I had never seen this movie until the fall of 1997 and after watching 40 minutes wondered, "What's the big deal?"Well, the second half of the film and then subsequent viewings have done more than just answer my question.It's one of the RARE movies in the past 30 years which portrays a Christian in a positive light. Ian Charleson does a convincing job of portraying a 100 percent sincerely good man who walks the talk.In here is also a good portrayal of a Jewish man, a student at Cambridge, acted well by Ben Cross. This man is too defensive about being Jewish and carries a chip <more>
on his shoulder until the end where he comes out a hero and a fine man as well, the bitterness gone.The story of those two men and their quest for a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics in France makes for an inspiring film. It's also aided by very nice photography and a wonderful score by Vangelis. A recently-issued widescreen DVD finally shows off the award-winning cinematography. The feel- good ending doesn't hurt, either, especially since these main characters were real-life people.Her extraordinary beauty made Alice Krige an interesting person to watch in the film, and I wonder why she never made it as a "big-name" actress. Perhaps that was her decision.In summary, a very classy film, that still lives up to its reputation.
Much more than just another sports movie, CoF analyzes the very different reasons two men have for devoting so much of their lives to training for the Olympics. This in an era when there were no commercial sponsors and no lucrative endorsement contracts. Though there is always fame and personal satisfaction, it seems to be implied that these things alone are insufficient to explain the special forces that drive these two men so much more than all the others.This is a truly beautiful movie about a different era, about competition and what may serve as motivation to compete--and perhaps about <more>
what kinds of motivation are healthy and what kinds are not.9/10
Films made in the U.K., or anywhere else, don't necessarily strike a nerve with Americans. Such films -I except the James Bond series- require the willing acceptance of a foreign cultural context to which U.S. viewers often seem stubbornly resistent. "Chariots of Fire" is the happy exception, a trip over the ocean and back into time which millions made in 1981. Even those who'd never heard of Corinthian spirit appreciated its display here.Tall, thin Ben Cross, who would make a perfect Sherlock Holmes someday, gives a spot-on performance as grouchy old Harold Abrahams, as <more>
disagreeable as a postwar sports administrator as he was when competing in the Twenties. The late Scotsman Ian Charleson has a harder task, making something other than a wide-eyed innocent of Eric Liddell, rugby/track star and Presbyterian missionary. The two actors, and their respective characters, chisel out definitions of confidence in completely opposite ways.Oddly, the producers chose to commission an avant-garde electronic score from Greek-born Brit Vangelis. If everything else was so scrupulously authentic, down to having a veteran track coach teach the actors how to stride in a way long obsolete, why not program music appropriate to the Jazz Age?
I'm not sure Chariots Of Fire deserved to be the Best Picture of 1981, I think Reds, Atlantic City, or On Golden Pond deserved that honor. But it's still quite the inspirational story of two men on the British track team of the 1924 Olympics who ran to prove something, but not the same thing.Ben Cross and Ian Charleson play Harold Abraham and Eric Liddell who are among the survivors of a lost generation to enter college, Cambridge to be precise in 1919, the year after World War I ended. It was called The Great War and the contemplation of another was too horrible to imagine. Cross as <more>
Abraham was a veteran of the war, though that fact is curiously downplayed in Chariots Of Fire.What is emphasized is his Jewish faith. Though Benjamin Disraeli had been Prime Minister and Lord Isaacs as Chief Justice and Sir Herbert Samuel never had to convert as Disraeli did for a political career, the very top of British society was still closed to Jews. I wonder if Ernest Hemingway had known the real Harold Abraham because he could have been a model for Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises. Abraham is not obnoxious like Cohn, but has reason for the chip on his shoulder as the Cambridge dons led by John Gielgud confront him about employing a 'professional' trainer. Gielgud could have been some mossback running the NCAA.Eric Liddell is running for his faith as well. He was not in the war, he was in China with his missionary father. Today he'd be a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, back in the day he typified what was then called 'muscular Christianity', the idea to show that being a Christian was not something for weaklings. Of course each in his own way makes his point, that in fact is the sum and substance of Chariots Of Fire. With Ian Charleson as Liddell, he makes an issue out of not running in an Olympic event held on the sabbath. I remember back in the day Sandy Koufax refusing to pitch in the World Series game held on Yom Kippur. Of course since the Dodgers also had Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen available at the time that was hardly a detriment. In fact the sabbath dispute over Liddell's views is solved in much the same manner.Chariots Of Fire is a nice depiction of the United Kingdom during the Twenties. It was not all the jazz age of partying, there were some very serious folk, even young folk at the time. Cross and Charleson play two such.There might be dispute over whether it was the Best Film of 1981, but the unforgettable musical score there was no doubt about. The awards that Chariots Of Fire won for Costume Design and Original Screenplay were also deserved.I think the value of Chariots Of Fire is that not only is it an inspirational film, but it takes place during an age when such things were scorned in some quarters. For that reason the film is both a good historical record and of timeless value.
I enjoyed "Chariots of Fire". I thought the running scenes were exciting, the acting was good and the story uplifting. I saw this movie when it first came out and I liked it. I recently saw it on DVD and my initial impression was upheld. I did think it was somewhat choppily edited though. The cuts from scene to scene were abrupt and often I felt that I had entered the scene a few lines of dialog too late. It is worth seeing nonetheless.