Laurels, amusement of the crowd, spirit of fair play, reverence, honor. Sport in its purest, amateur and non-profit form is a topic of Hugh Hudson’s film produced in early 80’s. Man as a chariot, able to cover a distance with unusual speed and style.
It’s a portrait of young individuals for whom running is much more than exercise or training. They run to prove something, to prove themselves, to release an element that lurks in them, even to praise God. Losing or winning a race is a matter of life and death. It’s always deeply personal. An effort put into running seems to be mental not physical.
Viewer is about to witness a dramatic participation in 1924 Olympic Games in Paris of two of the greatest athletes at the time. Eric Liddell, Scot who hesitates if he should follow his religious calling and depart to China to join the mission or focus on chasing an Olympic privilege. In the crucial moment he decides to abandon his pursuit of a lifetime dream in the name of principles.
Second character is Harold Abrahams, an Englishman with Jewish background. His descent is his an imprint that bothers him and holds him back from being treated normally. He runs against himself, against being Jewish. His approach to his passion is so serious that every failure gives him a very difficult time. In an hour of pessimism he claims: “If I can’t win, I won’t run”. Immediately the other voice responses: “If you don’t run, you won’t win”, which after all, appears to be the final message of the movie.
"Chariots of Fire" is an inspiring, touching and beautiful film that is a pleasure to watch for demanding and sophisticated audience, which becomes speechless because of hypnotic music created by Vangelis.
"Chariots of Fire" (1981), directed by Hugh Hudson, starring: Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Ian Holm.