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Oscars Challenge #21: Chariots of Fire (1981) Movie Review


Chariots of Fire (1981) Poster

Seriously, two minutes into the movie and the opening theme that I am familiar with is present. At last, I knew where that theme song originated. Combining it with men running on the beach in slow-motion is a blast.


But honestly, only the theme song is above average in this movie. Everything else is just plain okay I think. At least from my perspective.


Set during the 1920s in the United Kingdom, we follow the true story of 2 young track-and-field runners, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) as they overcome their adversities and challenges to compete in the 1924 Olympics. Harold, a Jew, was trying to overcome anti-Semitism and class bias. Eric, on the other hand, was a Christian who was born to Scottish missionaries in China and views running as part of his life mission with God. Both of them had different views on why they chose to run but in spite of this, they wanted to prove to their doubters and themselves that their stand in society won't get in their way and achieve the prestigious Olympic gold medal.


Harold Abrahams running inside the school

I think the one thing that really confuses me is the back-and-forth perspective of the 2 main characters in the film. If maybe they had done 2 separate movies telling the story of each of the runners I think that would be great. Unlike running, the movie's pace also moves slowly which made some parts of it quite boring in my opinion. But the climax is great though and it keeps your heart racing. The ending as well will tell you what happened between the 2 racers after their stint in the Olympics which gives a nice touch of history.


However, it is still a good biopic movie and you can't deny the athleticism, respect, and glory those 2 runners contributed to history. They are definite Hall-of-Famers and the fact that their stories were turned into a movie truly means something. Their incredible achievements should be something to be inspired and learned upon. Plus, the message conveyed by the film is on point, especially the theme of commitment and sacrifice which is still present in our athletes today. If you really want to win, you will do everything.

Chariots of Fire epic beach run

There are also some things in the movie that fascinates me. The use of shovels to dig the ground by the racers before running, The unusual training and strategy in order to prepare for the race. The film's title is inspired by a line from a famous poem. The actor of Eric Liddell studied the bible intensively to prepare for his role as a devout Christian. And the runners really trained for a few months to prepare for this film. Now that's what you call 100% dedication and it's something that you take into consideration as well.


One thing to remember as well is the incredible shots this movie offered. Those are some wonderful sceneries that make you want to visit the United Kingdom. Maybe, some got inspired to travel to that country by this movie I am not sure.


On a side note, the actor who portrayed Harry Potter's uncle is in the movie though his role is just minor and you may miss him out if you are not paying close attention. It's quite an interesting piece of fact we got there.

Harold Abrahams preparing for the Olympic Run

Again, the epic running scene and the soundtrack that accommodates it is truly something. It really is unforgettable. Seriously, if ever I get the chance to run on the beach one of these days I would imagine that epic soundtrack playing in the background.


Since this is the 21st film in my Oscars Challenge, the biopic genre is not something new now. I have watched Amadeus and 12 Years A Slave and I believe both of those were pretty epic in my opinion that may be the reason why my standards for this genre are quite high. I believe that Chariots of Fire is pretty average.


If you dream to be a marathon runner or just love running, you might want to check this film out and be inspired.

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