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Great true story, wonderfully done
trpdean6 March 2002
I watched this again last night. I had forgotten just how beautifully done it was - both a character study of two very different men and a gripping plot of their attempts to succeed - partly through athletics. the writer and director so well convey both Cambridge and the Edinburgh Presbyterian missionary disciples, in the early 1920s so very well.

The acting is superb - I had never seen a character presented like Eric Liddell in movies - how fine Ian Charleson was in this role, the softness of his voice, his ease and joy in running competitively (especially in contrast with the tense tortured Harold Abrahams). I also loved the more supporting roles - I've read a biography of F.E. Smith and Nigel Davenport is exactly how I would imagine him. The actor who played the Prince of Wales also seemed exactly right with his effortless charm, looks, and lack of imagination. Ian Holm, John Gielgud, Lindsay Anderson - all wonderful.

The actors weren't chosen for glamour either - Liddell and Abrahams are not Leni Riefenstahl images of athletic ideals, Liddell's sister is no beauty - and Abrahams' girlfriend is pretty but not stunning. It made them seem more real. (In nice contrast were the near-pretty boy looks of Nigel Havers as Lord Lindsay - it so suited his character).

The races are riveting - partly due to the music and sound effects.

So many small things are done so well - e.g., when Lord Lindsay has the confidence of his class to barge into a room containing the Prince of Wales, and three other lords (including Birkenhead and the head of the British Olympic Committee) and greets them by name - no need for introduction there (as there was for Liddell). It's small but seems quite real.

As an American, it was interesting and funny to see our Olympic team shown as the numerous, ominous, invulnerable "other"! (something like watching a Rocky movie with Rocky as the product of a Russian or East German success machine!). In fact, the one scene that seemed a bit off was the scene of the American track athletes warming up for the Games - all heavy music, machine like athletes, ferocious coach yelling with a megaphone into people's ears. It pounded too hard on the "these are the scary almighty inhuman opponents" theme in contrast to the cheerful British boys running along the beach.

Something I had forgotten about the movie was how stubborn BOTH protagonists are - Liddell fully as much as Abrahams. Liddell is not overly deferential or bashful when dealing with the Prince of Wales - but instead straightforward and very firm.

I truly can't understand anyone not liking this movie - it is very exciting even on the basic level of "will they win?" and so much more. (For example, Ian Holm's character's reaction to success after 30 years is very moving). Those who write to say that "Reds" deserved the Oscar more - are simply wrong. (Reds was so simplistic that it felt like watching the movie "The Hardy Boys Go to the Russian Revolution"). Those who say they cannot differentiate among the boys or between the Scottish and English accents - well, it sounds like some political statement to me.

Do watch it - it's very fine, very moving, very exciting.
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9/10
Truly an outstanding film.
Julie-3026 January 2003
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.
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10/10
An engrossing and powerful sports story
FlickJunkie-217 January 2001
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 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.
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10/10
This is one of the Oscar best pictures that actually deserved the honor.
gachronicled18 February 2001
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 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.
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9/10
A movie about the fire within
KFL18 February 2001
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 what kinds of motivation are healthy and what kinds are not.

9/10
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10/10
Special Edition Is Special!
blue-71 February 2005
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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9/10
It IS A Big Deal, In More Ways Than One
ccthemovieman-12 November 2005
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 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.
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10/10
Still a wonderful film!
Syl2 March 2004
I loved the soundtrack to this film and I was glad to watch it on Oscar Sunday. It is worthy of its' Oscars and is based on a true story. The music can be haunting and beautiful at the same time. Vangelis is a musical genius. The cast is stellar with some new faces of actors and actresses like Alice Krige and even Ruby Wax if you look closely. The 1924 Olympics is the climax of the film. It's still a beautiful and wonderfully entertaining and educational film to be seen. I loved the cast including Sir Ian Holm, Sir John Gielgud, and the young aspiring Olympic athletes including Brad Davis, Ian Charleson, and Ben Cross. The story is beautifully told in writing and the direction is brilliant to convey the beauty of the story. This is a feel good classic film from 1981.
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10/10
Good family film
rushmanw10 July 1999
We watched it with our children aged 8 to 16. Everybody enjoyed it, but for different reasons. It prompted much discussion about conscience, peer pressure, resistance to authority, and prejudice. A historical note: the Prince of Wales depicted in the movie later became king, only to abdicate his throne to marry the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. His speech on "duty" (to Liddell) is especially ironic given his later actions. Both Abrahams and Liddell are characters with depth. Abrahams struggles with his identity and desire for acceptance, while Liddell struggles with his duty to God. I could relate to both. The pace is a bit slow, but this allows us to digest what we have experienced. There is no violence or sex, despite the PG rating. For Star Trek fans, look for the "Borg Queen."
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Sheer Beauty
Paul Halsall16 February 2002
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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Harold Abrahams...dynamite
joseph t23 January 2003
The strength of this movie is the study in character contrast and development, with the added attractions of a historical setting and the soaring, ethereal musical score of Evangelos Papathanassiou.

The film is anchored in the character study of the introspective, brooding, and complex persona of Harold Abrahams, wonderfully portrayed by Ben Cross. Here is a man with all of the outward trappings of success: academic achievement, unexcelled athletic ability, wildly popular with his peers, yet tortured by an inbred inferiority complex and driven to lash out at the world in response. In the end, he conquers his inner demons through hard work, sacrifice, understanding of his fellow man, and the love of a good woman, to whom he opens his heart. I found myself thinking that Harold Abrahams is the kind of man I would want as my best friend, yet at the same time would find hard to become close with and relate to.

Ian Charleston's character (Eric Liddell) is a bit more one-dimensional. He is the archetypical Good Man, faithful to his family, his country, his friends, and his God. And in the end he triumphs through sheer force of will and by tapping that reservoir of inner strength that sustains him. As the crusty coach Sam Mussambini says, "He's a gut runner. Digs deep...".

It's a bit of a pity that the movie, long though it is, could not have delved more deeply into the other characters' background. Lord Andrew Lindsey is particularly appealing as Harold's and Eric's faithful friend who gives up his spot in his specialty race (the 400 m) to allow Eric a chance at the gold. Sybil Gordon is wonderful as Harold's love interest who tries to draw him out of his lonely world of bitterness and resentment and self-hatred ("You ran like a God. I was proud of you...", even after Harold loses a race for the first time in his life to a more determined Eric). Even some of the American competitors, who are only peripherally portrayed in the concluding segments, lend some color. Jackson Scholtz' reaching out to Eric Liddell gives one the sense that he knows the greatness of spirit that quietly resides in this unassuming Scotsman.

Its a wonderful story wonderfully told, and when its over you find yourself longing for it to continue, to see how these characters we've come to know over the previous two hours will turn out in the rest of their lives. Alas, the story of their lives is noted only in subtitles as the film closes.
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10/10
A masterpiece
celebes21 October 2005
I am going to come right out and say that I love this film- it is so important to me, that its one of those rare few films that don't want to see too often, so I can preserve some of the original wonder that I felt when I first saw it. It nourishes me as an artist and a human being.

This film is what I think great cinema can be. It has terrific acting, a beautiful simple story, wonderful production values, and of course that score- certainly one of the most beautiful and haunting scores in the history of film.

What it has that is most important, however, is heart. This movie has a wonderful message about what it means to be human, to be alive. What better metaphor for the sheer passion of living than the exhilaration of simply running as fast as you can.

This movie is as close to pure perfection as any movie made in the last twenty-five years. As one woman wrote, watch it with your children. Mine loved it, and it became my son's favorite film as he reached adulthood.
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10/10
Excellent film!
poto_alw_moses77713 February 2002
"Chariots of Fire" highly deserves all of the awards it won. It is a true story which captures the viewer's heart. It's a story of not giving up and striving for the best. And it's a story of enduring faith. With wonderful scenes (including the memorable opening scene when the runners are on the beach and the main theme is playing), outstanding acting, and a phenomenal music score by Vangelis, "Chariots of Fire" is one of the most overwhelming, passionate, and dramatic movies ever made.
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Chariots of Fire
tedg14 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

This minor drama becomes a powerful because of one element, the score (and the filmmakers understanding of its importance).

The score is based on one device: two layers of sound. One is rythmic and athletic. The other emotes soaring asperation. One reason film is such an important art is that it is so forgiving. Many elements of a film can be mediocre or even broken if some other element is strong.
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This is why I run
lhseaglerunner8 December 2001
Perhaps the most moving of all movies that I have ever seen, Chariots of Fire is purely amazing. I must admit that when I first saw it back in '97, I was bored silly by it, but then again, all the movies that I was watching then were your typical fare for a young teen--Adam Sandler comedies (how asinine they are now). Now, I have a great respect for CoF, since I discovered the joy of running and the feel of the race. Before every cross country and track season, I force my teammates to sit down and watch this to help learn what teamwork means and the glory of striving your hardest. Oh and that soundtrack is also pretty good.
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10/10
A fresh view on sports
happiscotsman15 March 2002
To me, a movie is only as good as the number of times you can watch it, and still feel entertained. Suffice it to say that I have watched "Chariots of Fire" many times, and will continue to do so. The film takes us to the most unlikely of places; The 1924 Summer Games, and the focus is on runners from the British team! The central characters of Abrahams and Liddell are well portrayed, but the best performances come from the old pros Sirs Anderson, Holm, and Gielgud. Amongst the other "Young Turks" from Cauis College, I favor the performance of Nigel Havers the most.

Many others have mentioned how the richness of the score lifts the film to another level, and I heartily concur. While the story is good, I could not imagine the movie flowing with such a mystical quality if the music had not been there to guide along the scenes. In fact my two favorite scenes have no dialogue at all, but instead just focuses on the actions of the athletes and the music that captures their movement. It almost seems like ballet, with a beat!

Another strong scene is when Abrahams discusses the driving force behind his running with the two college masters. Amateurism is hardly given a thought nowadays, what with the exorbitant salaries that athletes earn in the professional arena. But in 1924, there was still a belief held that the more glorious road was "the way of the amateur". You can hear the scorn on Anderson's lips when he says "You've hired a professional coach, you've adopted a PROFESSIONAL attitude". This ideology was the accepted stance of most upper-class members of society concerning sports at this time.

To see this film is to understand the glory and fear that is the Olympics, and how a viewer can appreciate the magic of cinema to bring it before our eyes. A deserving winner of the title, "Best Picture".
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10/10
A Timeless Film
Desertman8420 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Chariots of Fire is a historical drama film.It stars Ben Cross and Ian Charleson together with Nigel Havers,Cheryl Campbell,Alice Krige and Ian Holm.It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams.The film was written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson.

Eric Liddell, a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams, is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man's life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires. As compelling as the racing scenes are, it's really the depth of the two main characters that touches the viewer, as they forcefully drive home the theme that victory attained through devotion, commitment, integrity, and sacrifice is the most admirable feat that one can achieve.

The film manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.Like every element in this picture, the actors look right and they excel in their great performances.And to fully appreciate it,one does not have to a deep appreciation of sports but merely an understanding of human nature.And although this it has been released more than 30 years ago,it has proved time and again that this is a timeless story.
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10/10
Awesome
RNMorton12 September 2010
If someone told you they saw a great movie about the contrasting approaches taken by two runners for the 1924 Great Britain Olympic track team you might think they were pulling your leg. But in fact this is a titanic movie which simply exceeds the sum of its parts. Charleson plays Eric Liddell, a Scots runner who must choose between his belief in keeping the Sabbath holy and his desire for Olympic success. Cross plays Harold Abrahams, a Jewish competitor who has to decide whether to use a professional coach despite the misgivings of his prestigious university. Still doesn't sound like much? Then you just have to see the movie. As with all great movies, the moral dilemmas are presented without judgment and you get to decide. Plus the presentation is as important as the message, the feel of the 1920's permeates this movie. A very deserving Best Picture Oscar winner, far better than the ratings given it by IMDb visitors.
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9/10
A fabulous film achievement
Maddyclassicfilms30 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Chariots of Fire is directed by Hugh Hudson,has music by Vangelis and stars Ben Cross,Ian Holm, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers and Alice Krige.

This tells the true story of the British Olympic team of 1924.It's main focus is on the men training for their respective events and the strong desire of Jewish runner Harold Abrahams(Ben Cross),to beat Scotlands fastest man Eric Liddell(Ian Charleson)in a marathon. The main story revolves around Liddell and Abrahams and Harolds best friend Aubrey Montague(Nicholas Farrell),Lord Andrew Lindsay(Nigel Havers)and Henry Stallard(Daniel Gerroll).

Standout performances for me include all the above as the pride of England,and Ian Holm as Abraham's trainer Sam Mussabini,Alice Krige as stage actress Sybil Gordon who claims the heart of the driven Abrahams,Cheryl Campbell as Eric's sister Jennie afraid of losing her missionary brother to track events and press attention and John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson as the Masters of the Trinity and Caius colleges.

There's also fine support from Nigel Davenport as Lord Birkenhead who tries to persuade Liddell to run on Sunday(which he won't because of his beliefs),David Yelland as Edward the Prince Of Wales(who'd later abdicate the throne of England to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson)and Dennis Christopher as American Charles Paddock and Brad Davis as Jackson Scholz the fastest men in the world at the time.

Not just a superb sporting film this is a good look at a generation of people that will never come again(manners,optimism and breeding)trying to claim back England's pride following the horrific events of World War One. Moving and inspirational and featuring that sweeping and well known score by Vangelis,Chariots Of Fire is one to watch if you like costume dramas with great acting and a good story.
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8/10
Two Men Who Ran
bkoganbing18 July 2009
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 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.
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9/10
Beautiful movie!
Abhimanyu Kohli5 February 2009
What an amazing movie it is... amazing is the word! I saw the movie today - on the 5th of Feb '09. What a pity that i couldn't experience the movie's aura earlier!

Chariots of Fire is an outstanding piece of work which may be easily, and deservedly so, termed as LEGENDARY! Watch this movie and you'll know what is inspiration and dedication...

The characterization is such exemplary that each and every character tell their own little story... The two main characters - Lindell and Abrahams - are such that you'll only want to know them better as you go on watching the movie... especially that of Lindell. The guy is so so dedicated and truthful that i for one would just feel honored to know him closely.

Guys, WATCH IT!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Maybe I missed the point
Bill-30831 January 1999
Here's a film that seems to affect some people profoundly, but which leaves me completely cold. I've seen it only once, and that was a long time ago. But I'll never forget my total disappointment in the film, coupled with my dismay that I had somehow completely missed the point. I expected to like it very much. That theme music by Vangelis is soul-stirring, and being familiar with the music before I entered the theater, I expected a story every bit as thrilling. But what I got was a lot of running, a glut of pained expressions, and a religious, won't-work-on-the-Sabbath prig, who didn't bother to check the calendar before leading his countrymen to believe he'd represent them in the Olympics. Great painters, poets, playwrights, inventors, mathematicians, teachers, (I could go on) leave the world a better place for their having been among us. Great runners leave us with records that get broken. The guys in this movie ran fast for their day and thought very highly of themselves, but they weren't the great heroes they were purported to be. Maybe I didn't completely miss the point after all.
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Somehow Crossed the Finish-Line First
tfrizzell29 July 2000
"Chariots of Fire" is a fine motion picture that won the Best Picture Oscar in 1981, even though it was the longest of long-shots. The film deals with two young Englishmen (Ben Cross and Ian Charleson) who have hopes of glory at the 1924 Olympics. We see that their struggles almost cost them the opportunity to achieve the greatness that they both desire. When they are both ultimately successful, Charleson feels that his win is due to God's glory and accepts the medal with the greatest of pride and admiration. However, after Cross wins the gold he feels somewhat disappointed and realizes that what he thought he wanted was not what he really wanted at all. The insight into this motion picture is amazing. Both athletes convey very common feelings that most people experience if they are serious enough in what they are doing, whether it be sports or something else. The main focus of "Chariots of Fire" is that the journey to get to the destination is more important and uplifting than the destination itself. Many question the fact that this film won the Best Picture Oscar over "Reds" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark". However, this is one time I cannot say anything negative about the Academy's decision. The fact that this film won in 1981 is testimony to the fact that the Academy is one of the greatest organizations in the world. Kudos to all involved here. 5 stars out of 5.
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A classic.
admco.c13 April 2000
On a basic level it is the ultimate British Oscar-winning period piece and influential, uplifting feel-good film. Its two chief qualities are its subsequently strong realism and the resonant Vangelis soundtrack that, as with 'Blade Runner', increases the strength and significance of scenes through sound. Although it has a specific setting or historical background, the music adds an appropriate timelessness to the powerfully relevant human themes. These include winning and losing, of having what it takes to run the race, and of the old gentlemanly values of religion, decency and personal honour. It is the determining of the self, the inner strength, by understanding and will. The real-life characters and events are brought to life with the engaging realization that a climax will arrive at the end. At its core is a rivalry, less of a personal one and more the dilemma of two men wanting to win the same race. However, the climax is not predictable for such a straight-forward competition cannot occur. That is to say, they are both dedicated and honest men, with completely different religions, and it is this combination of resolution and talent which enables them both to win their own race. Around this central thread of training and determination, the film-makers have recreated the world surrounding these university characters in the 1920s. Scenes are filled with the casual, graceful attitudes that are a very British ideal; sophisticated prowess, decency, honesty, religion and intellect, values which seem to be less respected in this modern time. It portrays a credible idealism.

One of the first scenes of the film shows the running students. It celebrates this stage in life of onsetting maturity, comraderie and destiny through this bygone group of individual characters, united by the shared realization of their strengths. Throughout there is also the vague impression of higher powers at work, not so much the embedded attitudes of the old generation, but the position of man's humility in experiencing the challenge of life's great race created for them, and not only feeling the love that can be found, but rising to shine in one's own glory, enabled because of the higher glory. Not many viewers, especially today, accept such adherence and orthodoxy to Christianity, that can be seen as the motivation for the character Liddell. This film reminds us of the prominence and influence it had over so many aspects of society and the beneficial, empowering effects it could give to individuals. Alternatively the character Abrahams is a jew, and relies more on the attributes of his character which include a desperate determinism that reaps a reward of its own, takes him to his limits - although of greater significance is the love of a woman which detracts from perhaps a too heightened focus on himself. Through him we must also realise that there will always be those greater than ourselves, the very fact of our losing, and ultimately swallow pride and feel awe and goodness for the victory of our rivals and our friends. At the end of the film, the race has been run; they have gloriously discovered and revelled in their talents, their time, the fruits of aspiring to something greater than themselves. 'For it says in the good book, he that honours me, I will honour'.
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Engrossing and humbling
nomercy19 May 1999
'tis been said that this movie is loved or hated, no middle ground.

I believe I know why.

It touches the most fundamental instincts and feelings in all of us.

The question it compels us to ask is, "Do I have a piece of greatness to offer to the world"?

Those of us who would answer yes, whether we believe is achievable or not, would love this movie, because it epitomizes the potential of our dreams, not just in running, but in any walk of life.

Those of us who would answer no, would hate this movie, because it highlights our acceptance of mediocrity, and of surrendered dreams.

Also, this movie touches those who have succeeded also.

It shows that there are two ways to succeed, the one not shown in the movie, and the one shown.

The one not shown is the one that motivates most truly successful people today. win at any cost, in sports, business, etc. and the consequences be damned.

The way to succeed shown in Chariots of Fire is probably naive by today's standards, but nonetheless noble and uplifting.

It tells us that success achieved through dedication, commitment, honesty and sacrifice is the noblest achievement a person can attain, and provides examples for others to emulate.

Liddell and Abrahams are not examples for runners, they are examples for people, true heroes of the spirit, not sport.

An unforgettable phrase, a torch to some and a knife to others,

" So where does the power to succeed come from?... It comes from within"

Those of us who have it, love it, those of us who do not have it, hate it.

If I live to be 100, I will still have my dreams stirred back to life by the message in this film
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