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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Sprinters on Display

Chariots of Fire (1981) on IMDb

Plot Overview

“Chariots of Fire” (1981) is based on the true story of two British athletes competing in the Summer Olympics in Paris, 1924. The time­line jumps around among the athletes' early years, their time together at Cambridge after the Great War, and a future commemorative event.

Scottish Presbyterian Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) has missionary aspirations but feels “that God … also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” His devout sister Jennie (Cheryl Campbell) has trouble accepting his priorities.

Angst-ridden Israelite “laddie” Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) thinks winning at track will force acceptance of his Jewishness in a hostile Gentile world. He is supported by his pretty girl­friend, Gilbert & Sullivan soprano, Sybil Gordon (Alice Krige).

Having a professional trainer Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm) improves Mr. Abrahams's performance, although that might in itself give rise to Gentile envy for whom amateur running does not include such money men. The chance to glorify God in a Sunday heat can be self-defeating, as well, for a strict Sabba­tarian like Mr. Liddell.

In the movie all should turn out well in the end, of course.


The lesson from Eric is along the lines of, (Psalm 118:8-9) “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confi­dence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.” He's better off, it seems, trusting in God than placing his confidence in a trainer as did Abrahams or in the Prince of Wales (David Yelland) who wants him to run on Sunday (“In my day it was King first and God after.”)

For Abrahams, though, running is a violent act to assert his place in society, akin to, (Psalm 118:10-12) “All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them. They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.”

Production Values

Chariots of Fire” (1981) was directed by Hugh Hudson. Its original screenplay was written by Colin Wel­land. A historical drama film, it stars Ben Cross and Ian Charleson along with Nigel Havers, Cheryl Campbell, Alice Krige and Ian Holm.

This film is certified PG. Music includes. “The Skater's Waltz” played for a dance, “L'Enfant” playing in the background of a beach running sequence, and for the film's main theme the now-familiar “Chariots of Fire” theme. The wonderful music composed by Vangelis was executed with synthesizers, very progressive for a story that takes place in the 1920s but som­how fitting. Colorful and evocative cinema­tog­raphy by David Watkin was filmed on location in Edinburgh, Scotland, Liverpool, Cambridge University, Eton College, Eton, and Berkshire, England.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I thought this film was a piece of fluff redeemable only by its running sequences and the music. It takes too much liberty with history, geography, and philosophy for a movie tied to true events. In particular the Jewish question was handled ineptly, I'd say akin to the Negro question suggestion in a Walter Mosley novel where to call attention “to our low intelligence, our aberrant sexuality, our criminal nature, and our primitive instincts” (92) as scandalously described in such and such books, a well-meaning Negress reader requests that the librarian dedicate a section of the library to retain them. The librarian replies, “that that wouldn't be any help for anyone” (93). I don't think this movie helps anyone regarding anti-semitism. It is well executed, though, for a shallow reader living in the moment, not caring about the fine points.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Several suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: two stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Mosley, Walter. Fear of the Dark. New york: Little, Brown and Company, 2006. Print.