The story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the son of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society. In a warmup 100 meter race, Eric defeats Harold, who hires a pro trainer to prepare him. Eric, whose qualifying heat is scheduled for a Sunday, refuses to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee. A compromise is reached when a nobleman allows Eric to compete in his 400 meter slot. Eric and Harold win their respective races and go on to achieve fame as missionary and businessman/athletic advocate, respectively. Written by
Director Hugh Hudson originally wanted Vangelis' 1977 tune "L'Enfant", from his 1979 'Opera Sauvage' album, to be the title theme of the film, and the beach running sequence was actually filmed with "L'Enfant" playing in the background for the runners to listen and pace to. Vangelis, however, finally convinced Hudson he could create a new and better piece for the film's main theme - and when he played the new and now-familiar "Chariots of Fire" theme for Hudson, it was agreed the new tune was unquestionably better. But the "L'Enfant" tune still made it into the film: When the athletes reach Paris and enter the stadium, a brass band marches through the field, and first plays a modified, acoustic performance of "L'Enfant". Vangelis's electronic "L'Enfant" track eventually was used prominently in the film The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). See more »
When Colonel John Keddie meets Sam Mussabini, the cane in Keddie's hand jumps from his right hand to his left, so that his right hand is free to shake Mussambini's. See more »
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.
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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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