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
Extras in the Olympic crowd scenes were told to wear dark colours so they would not stand out. Extras who managed to wear actual Edwardian clothes were paid 20 pounds while those in normal dress were paid 10. See more »
Just before the group of people enter the ball where the Prince of Wales is, we can see the camera and the camera man's shadows in the back of the lady in light green dress (the last one going inside). And the guy in the right side of the shot is looking at the camera too. 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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I was a student at Edinburgh University in 1981 and was actually lodging with one branch of Eric Liddell's family.
My friends and I all went to see this movie repeatedly -- and I mean five, six, or seven paid entrances. Why?
Personally, I don't think it had anything to do with the plot, character development, the music, or moral virtue. It was simply that the film was so utterly beautiful.
The men were beautiful in a clean, non-glamorous way that we had never seen before. Not in British films, and certainly not in Hollywood movies.
The social and educational expectations shared by all were beautiful. I know it is fashionable to decry the British class system, and in principle I agree with all the criticisms. But it also seems that erasing class-by-birth leaves little else but crass meritocracy and the sheer vulgarity of the uneducated masses. Abraham's fellow students at Cambridge and Liddell's at Edinburgh participated in a social and educational system not driven by concerns about jobs, and not pathetically challenged by students who saw themselves as consumers and professors as entertainers.
Britain was beautiful. Of course some parts still are, but Nazi bombs, post-war architecture, and modern cars have destroyed much. This was a Britain where people at the time might have decried "Victorian" architecture, but we in 1981 were just coming to realize how great it was. And this was a Britain where, for good or ill, middle class people kept their houses tasteful, and working-class door-steps were white-stoned each week.
In all this movie was a connection to the beautiful aspects of the British past. That past might never have existed in reality, but in 1981 we could just about touch it, above all in Edinburgh, spared by German bombs and still one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
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