Chariots of Fire
(1981) 118 mins
Director: Hugh Hudson
Writer: Colin Welland
Cinematography: David Watkin
Art Directon: Jonathan Amberston, Len Huntingford, Annd Ridley, Andrew Sanders
In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the early 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian born to Scottish missionaries in China, sees running as part of his worship of God’s glory and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) overcomes anti-Semitism and class bias, but neglects his beloved sweetheart Sybil, in his single-minded quest. Also starring Ian Holm, Nigel Havers and Cheryl Campbell.
Winner of 4 Oscars and 3 Baftas.
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“It’s to the credit of both Mr. Hudson and Mr. Welland that Chariots of Fire is simultaneously romantic and commonsensical, lyrical and comic. David Watkin’s photography is very fine, and the track sequences – even to someone who has no real interest in track – are charged with poetry. Though Chariots of Fire is mostly about the very privileged, it is so carefully balanced that it doesn’t deny the realities of lives less privileged. It’s an exceptional film, about some exceptional people.” New York Times 1981
“Hudson, working with the great DP David Watkin, has crafted an exquisite glass house in which to witness this uneasy, irrefutably well-meaning, and quite physical drama. There are running sequences of stunning power, as well as several scenes of hearty, worn-in humor, largely involving the invaluable Ian Holm as Sam Mussabini, Abrahams’s half-Arab, part-Italian running coach. And there’s great intimacy to Abrahams’s romance with soprano Sybil Gordon (Alice Krige), whom he first spies during a performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.” Slant Magazine 2012