Chariots of Fire (1981)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great soundtrack, memorable opening

Besides the opening, much of the picture is forgettable

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Chariots of Fire

Studio:  Allied Stars Ltd

Genre(s):  Sports/Drama

Release Date(s):  March 30, 1981

MPAA Rating:  PG


Ok guys, running on the beach in white clothing isn’t the best idea…

Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a man of God who believes he’s been given a gift to run.  Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) is a Jewish man feeling that he’s trying to prove himself to the world.  As the 1924 Olympics approach in Paris, both men feel they must win.  With the weight of their country on their shoulders, Abrahams and Liddell prepare to run the race of their life.

Directed by Hugh Hudson, Chariots of Fire is a semi-historical telling of the British Olympic running team of 1924.  It received positive reviews and its memorable soundtrack is still used today.  The film received Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score with nominations for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Film Editing.


Today’s student: I’m totally putting this on Facebook!

Chariots of Fire is one of those movies that feels memorable until you start watching it.  I had seen the movie before but mostly remember the running on the beach scenes…which only comprises a couple of minutes of the film.  Between the great opening and closing sequence, a solid (but forgettable) drama unfolds.

The story is semi-based on history and goes almost exactly like you expect it to go with little shocks or surprises.  The script took a lot of liberties with the true story and combined and traded certain aspects of characters.  Regardless of the accuracy, hardly anything surprising or shocking occurs.  The guys get their dreams and the glory…there is very little tension.


Ok…run faster…got it!

What saves Chariots of Fire is that all the actors involved are rather strong.  From the main cast to the supporting cast, the characters are believable.  It becomes pretty obvious early on that Ian Holm is trolling for Oscar bait as the rather eccentric trainer of Ben Cross’ character and he did receive a Supporting Actor nomination for the role (losing to fellow Englishman John Gielgud in Arthur).

The movie has a very memorable look and sound.  As mentioned the beach scenes are memorable but other scenes like the multiple races, the Cambridge Trinity Court run, and scenes from Scottish Highlands are well done.  They are accompanied by the classic Chariots of Fire music which has been reused over and over again…but sometimes, the synthetic music is a little distracting.


Wahoo! I love running!!!

Chariots of Fire is a nice, forgettable film.  At two hours, it is a bit shorter than some of the other long, bloated Best Pictures so it isn’t as big of a commitment.  It is interesting to watch Chariots of Fire and remember how different “professional” running was and how low-tech it was.  With modern Olympics having big budgets, grand opening ceremonies, and security issues, it is nice to revisit a simpler (but still political) time.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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