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Chariots of Fire (1981)

Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

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(original screenplay)
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Lord Andrew Lindsay
...
...
...
Henry Stallard
...
...
Master of Trinity (as Sir John Gielgud)
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Master of Caius
...
...
Jennie Liddell
...
...
...
Patrick Magee ...
Lord Cadogan
...
Duke of Sutherland
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Storyline

It's the post-WWI era. Britons Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell are both naturally gifted fast sprinters, but approach running and how it fits into their respective lives differently. The son of a Lithuanian-Jew, Harold, who lives a somewhat privileged life as a student at Cambridge, uses being the fastest to overcome what he sees as the obstacles he faces in life as a Jew despite that privilege. In his words to paraphrase an old adage, he is often invited to the trough, but isn't allowed to drink. His running prowess does earn him the respect of his classmates, especially his running teammates, and to some extent the school administration, if only he maintains what they consider proper gentlemanly decorum, which isn't always the case in their minds. Born in China the son of Christian missionaries, Eric, a Scot, is a devout member of the Church of Scotland who eventually wants to return to that missionary work. He sees running as a win-win in that the notoriety of being fast gives him... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carros de fuego  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$58,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene in which Harold Abrahams first sees Sybil Gordon, singing as Yum-Yum in "The Mikado", is based on either a mistake of fact or a deliberate alteration to make the story more romantic. In real life, the name of Harold Abrahams' bride was Sybil Evers. Evers was a member of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, but while Sybil Gordon was its principal soprano, Sybil Evers was a minor soprano, who sang the role of Peep-Bo The Mikado, not the lead role Yum-Yum as it appears in the movie. Moreover, she only appeared with the D'Oyly Carte company for one season, 1930-31. Evers and Abrahams did not meet until 1934, 10 years after Abrahams' Olympic victory. They were married in 1936. (In real life, while he was a Cambridge student, Abrahams was engaged to a young woman, Christina McLeod Innes, but they broke up when he decided to devote himself full time to athletics and the Olympics.) See more »

Goofs

In the first race between Liddell and Abrahams the runner in the first lane (runner #6) is actually winning the race at the finish line and pulls up to ensure that Liddell wins. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lord Andrew Lindsay: Let us praise famous men and our fathers that begat us. All these men were honoured in their generations and were a glory in their days. We are here today to give thanks for the life of Harold Abrahams. To honour the legend. Now there are just two of us - young Aubrey Montague and myself - who can close our eyes and remember those few young men with hope in our hearts and wings on our heels.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Magnum, P.I.: Find Me a Rainbow (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

God Save the King
(1744) (uncredited)
Traditional
Written by Henry Carey
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Special Edition Is Special!
1 February 2005 | by (Salt Lake City) – See all my reviews

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 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.


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Would Chariots of Fire have won Best Picture without the theme song? Vega_Lyra
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