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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.

Director:

Hugh Hudson

Writer:

Colin Welland (original screenplay)
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4,790 ( 179)
Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

This is the story of two men who run...not to run...but to prove something to the world. They will sacrifice anything to achieve their goals...Except their honor. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Carros de fuego See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$68,907, 27 September 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$58,972,904
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although it received a standing ovation when shown in competition at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival, this movie was mercilessly savaged by the French critics, because it called the French "the frogs" and "an unprincipled lot." In order to prevent the negative critical response from hurting its international distribution, Roger Ebert lobbied the other American critics in attendance to award it the "American Critics Prize", which they did in a 6-5 vote. This marks the only time in the sixty-year history of the festival that this award has been presented. See more »

Goofs

In the first race between Liddell and Abrahams the runner in the first lane (runner #6) is actually winning the race at the finish line and pulls up to ensure that Liddell wins. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Zaag (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Miserere Mei, Deus
by Gregorio Allegri
Choir Of New College Oxford
See more »

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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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