The true story of British track athletes Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell,
two men from different upbringings who competed at the 1924 Olympics.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
Directed by Hugh Hudson
Written by Colin Welland
Starring Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Ian Holm, Alice Krige,
Cheryl Campbell, John Gielgud, Lindsay Anderson,
Dennis Christopher, Daniel Gerroll, Nigel Havers
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay,
Best Costume Design, Best Original Score (Vangelis)
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Ian Holm),
Best Director, Best Film Editing
Chariots of Fire is one Best Picture winner that has not aged well at all. I don't understand what the Academy saw in it that persuaded them to award top honors to this film over Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Chariots is a dull affair with a story that doesn't feel worthy of a two hour sports drama. Apart from the strong performances and the iconic (some might say cheesy) score, I have very few positive things to say about this film.
Harold Abrahams (Cross) and Eric Liddell (Charleson) were two Cambridge men from different backgrounds. Abrahams was a Jew who sought personal satisfaction from running, while Liddell was a devout Catholic who sought to bring glory to God through his own victories. These two men represented Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics, and they both wound up taking home the gold. It's tough to build an entire film up to what is basically ten seconds of running, but even so the film just doesn't keep your attention. There are so many little subplots that are tough to follow, and the ending is extremely anticlimactic.
Chariots of Fire doesn't hold a candle to its Oscar competition, most of which have only gotten better with age. This film lacks a consistent story, any significant themes, and justification for the two hour buildup. Its only saving graces are the strong score by Vangelis and the decent performances by Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, and Ian Holm.