Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chariots of Fire

1981, 2 hours, UK, Academy Award (best film)

This is a film in the tradition of splendor of visual imagination that reminds us of Lean and Attenborough. From the lush greenery of Scottish highlands to the hallowed halls of Caius College of Cambridge University and the pomp and ceremony of 1924 Olympics attended among others by British and Japanese royalty, it is feast likely to linger in memory.

The movie is about two British runners and their training and participation in the games. More than about sport it is about self transcendence and the wellsprings from which heroic efforts emerge. Harold Abrahams is the son of a Jewish financier of Lithuanian origin. His commitment to win the gold medal springs from the antisemitic prejudice he has been exposed to all his life and which is even present in the echelons of Cambridge faculty. Eric Liddel is the child of Christian missionaries working in China and for him winning is an action to proclaim the glory of his faith. Both make considerable personal sacrifices and overcome opposition to fulfill their goal. In one interesting incident, Liddel adamantly refuses to run on a Sunday, being the sabbath, even when entreated by the future sovereign.

 Those were different times and the shattering tragedies to follow were yet in formation. It's a picture of the upper strata of British society and their ethos, the old-fellow bond centered around the titular head of state  which perhaps provided part of the inspiration for the achievements of this small nation on the field of battle and elsewhere.

It is a film full of light and hope, youth and idealism. This is a world where life is full of great possibilities. Here is an uplifting movie which bears you up on it's wings and makes the heart soar.


Anonymous said...

The opening and closing scenes are so wonderful and memorable that they are still remembered(or parodied) nowadays, but the movie is more than that. Like others, I found it a very moving tale about the triumph of determination. Vangelis' synthesizer score sounds dated in our standard(many people think his Oscar win was a big mistake), but the main theme works great with the scenes I mentioned.

S. M. Rana said...


Movies these days so often glorify the dark aspect of human nature. But human nature has a noble side too. Cinema is more than just an industry or art for art's sake. Cinema molds the minds specially of the impressionable generation. Evil is much easier to show than evil, and does better at the cash registers too.

I too lved this film.