7.2/10
44,752
223 user 92 critic

Chariots of Fire (1981)

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

Director:

Writer:

(original screenplay)
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Popularity
2,232 ( 2,545)

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Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Master of Trinity (as Sir John Gielgud)
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Jennie Liddell
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Charles Paddock
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Jackson Scholz
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Storyline

It's the post-WWI 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 gives him... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

9 April 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carros de fuego  »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 the film, and the beach running sequence was actually 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 film'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 the film: 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's electronic "L'Enfant" track eventually was used prominently in the film The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). See more »

Goofs

On the boat to France, Abrahams is playing the piano, but the notes we see him strike bear no resemblance to the music we hear. 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.
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Soundtracks

He is an Englishman
(1878) (uncredited)
from "H.M.S. Pinafore"
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by W.S. Gilbert
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This is one of the Oscar best pictures that actually deserved the honor.
18 February 2001 | by See all my reviews

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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