1981 • Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire, 1981Sunday night, Lauren and I ordered some sushi and Pad Thai from Mt. Fuji, then parked ourselves in front of the TV for the viewing of 1981’s Best Picture winner, Chariots of Fire, which is largely based on a true story.

The movie takes place in 1924 as two European speedsters prepare for the Olympic games in Paris. These two runners, though both very gifted athletes, face very different challenges. One, Eric Liddell, is running because he thinks that it’s his way of honoring God for giving him such speed. The other, Harold Abrahams, runs to overcome Jewish prejudice. The movie goes back and forth between the two and their preparations for the Olympics, and on one occasion the two come together to race.

Abrahams’ biggest challenge comes when he chooses his track career over his girlfriend Sybil, who must wait in the wings until he achieves his dreams of winning the gold. The real obstacle for Liddell comes at the Olympics, when he realizes the first heat for his 100-meter race is on a Sunday. Because of his devout Christianity, he refuses to race on that day, seriously jeopardizing his pursuit of a medal. Can the two put their troubles aside and bring home the gold medals for Britain?

I was only mildly entertained by the movie. I didn’t think either runner’s story was terribly compelling. Neither had to overcome any wildly difficult circumstances, and both were fairly unlikable characters.

The movie’s biggest moment of glory is the opening and closing sequences showing the runners jogging through a foot of water along the ocean shore in slow motion, to the electronic soundtrack by Vangelis. The song by the same name as the movie is of course extremely well-known, oftentimes used in other slow motion sequences on TV or movies.

I ranked Chariots of Fire #39 of 50 so far. Next up, 1982’s Gandhi, the last Best Picture winner produced before my birth!

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1 Comment

  1. […] Pictures More Best Picture reviews are up after Lauren and I watched 1981′s Chariots of Fire and 1982′s Gandhi this week. Find out which one ranked #10 on my list and which one ranked […]


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