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Chariots of Fire (1981)

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



(original screenplay)
4,537 ( 1,268)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »



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


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


Two men chasing dreams of glory! See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carros de fuego  »

Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)


$58,800,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Eric Liddell's 400 meter victory in the 1924 Olympics was an Olympic record of 47.6 and excited the crowd with an unorthodox run. He ran the first 200 meters in 22.2 seconds, considered by track experts to be tactically foolish, considering it was only 0.3 seconds slower than his 200 personal record, but he actually increased his lead in the second half beating the competition by nearly a second. See more »


The Republic of China's erstwhile five-striped red-yellow-blue-white-black flag is shown flying next to the US flag in the stadium. China did not participate in the Olympics until 1932. See more »


[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 »


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

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User Reviews

Truly an outstanding film.
26 January 2003 | by (Florida, USA) – See all my reviews

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 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.

109 of 124 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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