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


Hugh Hudson


Colin Welland (original screenplay)
4,299 ( 1,629)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nicholas Farrell ... Aubrey Montague
Nigel Havers ... Lord Andrew Lindsay
Ian Charleson ... Eric Liddell
Ben Cross ... Harold Abrahams
Daniel Gerroll ... Henry Stallard
Ian Holm ... Sam Mussabini
John Gielgud ... Master of Trinity (as Sir John Gielgud)
Lindsay Anderson ... Master of Caius
Nigel Davenport ... Lord Birkenhead
Cheryl Campbell ... Jennie Liddell
Alice Krige ... Sybil Gordon
Dennis Christopher ... Charles Paddock
Brad Davis ... Jackson Scholz
Patrick Magee ... Lord Cadogan
Peter Egan ... Duke of Sutherland


It's the post-World War I 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 ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


With Wings on their Heels and Hope in their Hearts See more »


Biography | Drama | Sport


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


This was the seventh most popular movie at the U.S. and Canadian box offices in 1981. See more »


In the scene where Harold Abrahams's coach is showing him Charles Paddock winning gold in the 1920 Olympics and why Jackson Scholz only got silver, the coach had it wrong. Scholz only came fourth and was not successful in winning silver. He did however win silver in 1924 at the Paris games. 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 »

Alternate Versions

There is at least one slightly different version of the movie, issued in Europe on homevideo. The beginning is different - shorter - and introduces Harold Abrahams while playing cricket with his colleagues. The scene in the train station, where Monty meets Harold is absent, as well as the loading of the baggage in the taxi they share. We simply see Monty writing a letter to his parents, mentioning that "Harold is as intense as ever" (cut to the cricket scene, maybe 30 seconds long), and then continues with "I remember our first day... we shared a taxi together" (cut to the two students unloading their stuff from the car). This alternate version also have slightly different end credits, and does not mention Harold marrying Sybil. The differences are minor (the U.S. version provides a more shocking memento of WWI, when it shows crippled baggage handlers in the station); one of the reasons the cricket scene was dropped in favour of the station one was due to the distributor's worry that the American market would not understand it. See more »


The Lord's My Shepherd
Text: Psalm 23
Music ("Crimond") by Jessie Seymour Irvine
(playing as Eric Liddell tips his cap to the statue of John Knox at New College, Edinburgh, and runs up the church steps)
See more »

User Reviews

Engrossing and humbling
19 May 1999 | by nomercySee all my reviews

'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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English | French

Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chariots of Fire See more »


Box Office


$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$68,907, 27 September 1981

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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