Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Chariots Of Fire (1981)

Chariots of fire

Starring Ben Cross, Ian Charleson & Nigel Havers

Rating 5/10

There’s no doubt this film is a classic. I’m sure the theme song pops up in many a trivia night. Sport films tickle something in us! Hard work paying off, justice, overcoming obstacles, victory.

We meet most of the ‘boys’ as they enrol at the prestigious Cambridge University. Harold Abrahams (Cross) is a Jewish student with something to prove. He is tired of the anti-Semitism that rages all around him and is ready to show the world that he is a powerful person with a great pair of legs! He romances the local opera singer, Sybil Gordon (Alice Krige) and she falls for him and his legs.

Eric Liddell (Charleson) is a different kind of runner. He is an ex-Rugby player and devout Christian who runs for God. Though he is impressively fast, his equally devout sister doesn’t think running is important. But he sticks to his guns and seeks out selection on the British Olympic team. First he has to race our mate Harold who, up until now, has never lost a race.

Harold’s world comes crashing down when the angelic Eric beats him. Abrahams then has a childish tantrum, buries his face in his hands and says that if he can’t win then he doesn’t want to race. Sybil advises him to suck up his dangling lower lip and grow up. He does and uses the disappointment as inspiration for the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

While on the boat across the Channel, Eric learns that his heat is to be run on a Sunday. He realises that his faith will not allow this and drops out of the race, to the dismay of the British head honchos. One of the Cambridge boys offers him his place in a different race later on in the week and Eric agrees. Then they race, anthems are sung and I won’t spoil the end for you!

This mighty famous film is a little boring in parts. The slow-motion sequences don’t help this at all. The story is powerful but it lacks punch. Modern films have spoiled this one for me I’m afraid. There was no real tension at the end and the ending was sweet but not unexpected.

I love the music, which is a mixture of gospel and 80’s xylophone sounds. Kinda cool but not really appropriate to the period of the film. The performances are well done but, for an Best Picture winner, this one fell a little flat… for me! What did you think?

Chariots of Fire Triva:

  • Budget – $5.5 million
  • A US coach, not Jackson Scholz,  was the one who handed a note to  Eric Liddell before the big race.
  • Kenneth Branagh, Steven Fry and Ruby Wax are extras
  • The Lord was the one who actually succeeded in finishing the Great Court Run in time.
  • The beach running scene was filmed at St Andrews and most of the runners are golf caddies.
  • The title of the film was thrust upon writer Colin Welland when he was listening to the hymn, ‘Jerusalem’ – “Bring me my chariot of fire”
  • The funeral service is that of Harold Abrahams who became a Christian later in life.
  • Harold also unsuccessfully competed in the 1920 Olympic Games.
It looks like the 80’s were the decade of inspiration. Next time we’re watching Ghandi starring Ben Kingsley, Candice Bergen and John Gielgud.


2 comments on “Best Picture – Chariots Of Fire (1981)

  1. Pingback: Elektrische Zahnbuerste

  2. Pingback: 1981 Oscar Winners | Guide to be a winner

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