Chariots of Fire (1981) – Encore Review

“God made countries, God makes kings, and the rules by which they govern. And those rules say that the Sabbath is His. And I for one intend to keep it that way.” – Eric Liddell

Number of Times Seen – at least 5 times (a few times on cable in the 80’s, 25 Aug 2001, Apr 2011, 17 Feb 2014 and 17 Dec 2020)

Link to original reviewHere

Brief Synopsis – Five aspiring Olympian runners compete for spots on the British team for the 1924 Olympic in Paris.

My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing numerous times on cable as a kid and obviously didn’t understand it as well then as I do now.

They do a wonderful job depicting the various obstacles and achievements that these men encountered as they strive to win glory at the Olympics.

WE get to see how rivalry, friendship and ambition factor in to these aspirations.

The way that these men do all that they can to stick to their convictions along the way is quite impressive to watch unfold as they strive for the ultimate sporting achievement.

The film’s opening running scene has become so iconic over the years and the score by Vangelis is so well known due to this scene itself.

It truly is quite effective in showing what kind of film this is meant to be especially given how it is based on real people and events.

The film has a very talented lead and supporting cast led by Ben Cross, Ian Charleston, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers and Daniel Gerroll.

Ian Holm gives an Oscar nominated performances in a powerful supporting role.

They all are able to make the running scenes seem more plausible and thrilling to watch.

The supporting cast has a few small scenes with John Gielgud and Richard Griffiths, which are fun to see.

The biggest problem with this film is the fact that they try to focus on too many characters and fail to develop any of them on a deep enough level.

Despite this, they still are able to show us the drive and ambition of each of these characters as they do all they to achieve Olympic Gold.

They are very detailed in the way of training these runners and the musical score enhances that feeling throughout.

The film was able to win Best Picture that year which is both understandable and inexplicable at the same time.

I believe that this film ended up winning due to various splits in the votes between some of its biggest competitors.

It may not be among the very best films to have won Best Picture, but it still is able to give us a very inspirational and powerful story about the bonds of friendship along with the way men deal with competition in a fair way.

We also get to see what they are all willing to do for glory to themselves, their country and their religion along the way.

Bottom Line – Great film that manages to show how rivalry, friendship and most importantly ambition while sticking to your own convictions can all affect aspirations for greatness. The iconic opening running scene has been much parodied over the years, yet it’s quite effective in establishing the kind of film that this is. The cast is quite talented with Cross, Charleson, Farrell, Havers and Gerroll doing fine jobs as these runners and allowing things to feel so realistic. The film’s biggest problem tho is that it tries too hard to focus on too many characters which leaves almost all of them far too underdeveloped. Despite this, we get a clear idea of the drive that each of these characters have in trying to win Olympic Gold. The film is quite detailed in the training of these runners and the score by Vangelis has helped make this story so memorable.  The fact that this film won Best Picture is both understandable and inexplicable at the same time and I think that splits between the other nominated films led to this one being able to prevail. It might not be the best Best Picture over the years, but it still gives us an inspirational and powerful story of the bonds of friendship along with the things men will do for glory to themselves, their country and their religion along the way. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – When Colin Welland completed his first draft, the only title he could think of was “Runners”. Then, one Sunday evening he turned on BBC’s religious music series Songs of Praise (1961), featuring the hymn “Jerusalem.” The chorus including the words “Bring me my chariot of fire”. The writer leapt up to his feet and shouted to his wife, “I’ve got it, Pat! ‘Chariots of Fire’!” (From IMDB)

Rating – ?Globe Worthy (8/10) (no change from original review)


Check out my *updated* movie stats here

To see my reviews of Oscar Winning Performances check out this link

To see my reviews of all Oscar Best Picture Winners click here (now complete)

Here is a link to my movie index A-Z

One thought on “Chariots of Fire (1981) – Encore Review

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1981 | MovieRob

Let me Know what you think!!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.