Run-up to the Olympics: Chariots of Fire (1981)

Continuing on the Olympic theme I started yesterday, I have decided to spotlight a couple of Olympic-themed films.

Let’s start in the location of this year’s games – the United Kingdom, or rather England to be exact. The first film I will highlight is the multiple Academy Award winning feature, Chariots of Fire. 


Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British film. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. (Source: Wikipedia)

This is a film I have only seen within the past five years – as a youth I always felt that this film was always inaccessible to me. It always seemed a bit cold and remote to me.

After having seen it, I can honestly say that the needle has shifted, if only slightly. Do not get me wrong it is a well-crafted film, but the performances in particular felt a little stilted and stagey for my tastes. One would think that a film about running would have some “pace” to it; instead, I feel like the film was dragged down as a result of it. You certainly felt all of the 124 minute running time.

On the positive side, I did like the framing device by which the story was told – and oh yeah and that musical score (Vangelis) is iconic.


  1. Great write-up Iba. I appreciate this film despite the slow pacing like you said, the spirituality aspect appeals to me, it makes it more than just a movie about running. That musical score is definitely very iconic, I always picture the running scene every time I hear it.
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    • Yeah the former (and hopefully) reinvigorated runner in me was primarily thinking about the sport 🙂
      But you are spot on about the spiritual aspect of it. In fact that Wikipedia synopsis I provided says it all really.

  2. Haven’t seen it yet, thanks to ur suggestion may just catch-up with it this Olympic weekend.. 🙂

  3. Ever since I saw the Opening Ceremony, when I heard the score and saw Mister Bean parody it, now I want to see it…I will try to get a hold of it!
    Diana aka Aziza recently posted..The Olympic Games and the Opening CeremonyMy Profile

  4. I loved this movie when I first saw it in the theater years ago but my daughter who was 11 was bored. Ah, what does she know. Ha!

    Sometimes I like to watch the opening credits just for the wonderful photography and the music. Thrilling.

    I liked this more than you did, Iba though admittedly it was not a fast paced film. I found it fascinating for its historical value since I had not been aware of the events presented in the story. I loved the music of course. The photography too and the acting. And I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the Brits have a knack for fantastic casting. In my view, everyone in this is absolutely top-notch.
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