7.2/10
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Chariots of Fire (1981)

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1:31 | Trailer
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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Popularity
4,306 ( 106)
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:

Two men chasing dreams of glory! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Hugh Hudson originally wanted Vangelis' 1977 tune "L'Enfant", from his 1979 "Opera Sauvage" album, to be the title theme of this movie, and the beach running sequence was 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 movie'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 this movie: 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' electronic "L'Enfant" track was eventually used prominently in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). See more »

Goofs

In 1924, the future Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor was Prince of Wales. At the meeting between "the committee" and Eric Liddell, Lord Birkenhead calls him "David". Some have assumed that this is a goof because he is played by David Yelland, but in fact the prince was known to his friends and family as David, and it is coincidence that an actor with the same name plays him. 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 Stiff Upper Lips (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Pas de deux (No. 14)
(1892) (uncredited)
from "The Nutcracker Op. 71, TH14"
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
(Melody Played When Eric Wins Race)
See more »

User Reviews

Somehow Crossed the Finish-Line First
29 July 2000 | by tfrizzellSee all my reviews

"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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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chariots of Fire See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$68,907, 27 September 1981

Gross USA:

$58,972,904

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$59,303,359
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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