Chariots of Fire
Action / Biography / Drama / History / Sport
Chariots of Fire
Action / Biography / Drama / History / Sport
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It's the post-World War I era. Britons Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell are both naturally gifted fast sprinters, but approach running and how it fits into their respective lives differently. The son of a Lithuanian Jew, Harold, who lives a somewhat privileged life as a student at Cambridge, uses being the fastest to overcome what he sees as the obstacles he faces in life as a Jew despite that privilege. In his words to paraphrase an old adage, he is often invited to the trough, but isn't allowed to drink. His running prowess does earn him the respect of his classmates, especially his running teammates, and to some extent the school administration, if only he maintains what they consider proper gentlemanly decorum, which isn't always the case in their minds. Born in China, the son of Christian missionaries, Eric, a Scot, is a devout member of the Church of Scotland who eventually wants to return to that missionary work. He sees running as a win-win in that the notoriety of being fast gives him an added outlet to spread the word of God, while he sees his speed as being a gift from God, and he wants to run to honor God and that gift. This view does not sit well with his sister, Jennie Liddell, who sees his running as only taking away time from his work to God. Harold and Eric's lives do intersect in national races, but it is the one hundred meter track event at the 1924 Paris Olympics which the two men and their supporters most anticipate. Beyond the fact that Americans Charles Paddock and Jackson Scholz are favored in the event, the much anticipated head to head between Harold and Eric may be further shadowed by other issues, especially as it affects Eric's Christian beliefs. —Huggo.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 18, 2021 at 06:22 PM
grade Movie Reviews
This film addresses the trajectory and rivalry between two Olympic runners of the English racing team who participated in the 1924 Olympics, in Paris. However, its far from be a mere sports film and can be seen under different prisms and approaches. Harold Abrahams is a young Jewish athlete who is determined to win all the races he runs in order to prove his worth to everyone, and perhaps to himself in the first place. The subjects of anti-Semitism and social elitism are evident and greatly affect his character and personality. His rival, Eric Liddell, is a Protestant, son of missionaries and husband of a devotee of the Presbyterian Church. He sees race as a way to praise and magnify God, and is so strict with his faith that he refuses to participate in races on Sunday. One wishes to affirm himself, to show what he is capable of, while the other knows what he is capable of, wanting only to thank those who believe that he has given him these abilities. Both, however, are marked by society because they do not fit fully into it, one for ethnic reasons, the other for the religious fervor in which he lives. Hypocrisy also appears in this film: university rectors who rejoice over a student's achievements but are not able to show it openly, or the banned trainer who is forced to watch his pupil's run from a window. And we also have something that still happens in today's Olympics: exacerbated nationalism's turning healthy sporting into a matter of national pride, fueled by medals and ovations.From these considerations you may be thinking that the plot is the best thing this movie has to offer and that's true, but it's not bad if you think the essence of any movie is to tell a good story. But it's also true that it's not the only good thing in this movie. The cast has heavy names that worked furiously and played great. Ben Cross was great like Abrahams, being able to express very well the psychological and emotional fragility's of this character; Ian Charleson was equally good in the role of Liddell, especially when speaking or talking about religion. On the track the issue was different, for I hated to see the actor running so affected and artificial, with his mouth wide open and swallowing all the unsuspecting flies that came up on the way. Cinematography is very good, within the standards of the films of the late seventies and early eighties, without the quality that the current film and digital resources have already accustomed our eyes. Some camera shots are excellent and quite unique. As for the soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, it really has become an icon, although I do not like the sound of the synthesizer and prefer the same song in a totally orchestral version. But this is a matter of personal taste.Nominated for seven Academy Awards, this film only achieved four of them, among which "Best Picture" and "Best Soundtrack". I also have some doubts about whether it will age well and stay popular in the coming decades, since it has virtually disappeared from DVD store windows, as well as from TV channels (even those who are especially dedicated to movie broadcasting). In any case, it remains one of the best films of the eighties and is an absolute must for any connoisseur of the seventh art.
The biggest piece of Oscar bait to ever win Best Picture,
This is a vanilla piece of cinema - classic Oscar-bait. Every character is a blue- blooded bore apart from Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a zealous Scotsman who refuses to race on a Sunday. This, believe it or not, is the central conflict of this bland British classic, the dramatic peak.Many will enter Chariots of Fire expecting dramatic, slow motion running to that iconic score by Vangelis, and that is what they will get in the opening five minutes. However, they'll have to go through about 100 minutes of dinners, sermons and received pronunciation until Harold's Olympic sprint, which finally breathes some life into the film by skilfully wracking your nerves.Even if the slack narrative was tightened up, the importance or interest of this story is dubious at best. Where's the drama, where's the sacrifice? There is none.
The Fire Within
"Chariots of Fire", the 1981 sports drama, which stretches a time span from 1919 to 1978, where the two main characters of Harold M. Abrahams, played by Ben Cross and Eric Liddell, performed by Ian Charleson find redemption by winning gold metals at the Olympic Games 1924 in Paris. Director Hugh Hudson, former commercial co-producer and realisateur and English producer David Puttnam, known before for launching Ridley Scott's feature debut "The Duellists" in 1977, who kept tight connections to the Cannes Film Festival committee in his prime to realize some fine artful mainstream pictures in the 1980s, including "The Killing Fields" (1984) and "The Mission" (1986) for which eventually earned the Palme d'Or.The film directed by Hugh Hudson has everything what a dramatic picture should have. Compelling cinematography by David Watkin, who combines every possible instruments from precisely paced dolly shots over hand-held immersive character POVs, flooding Steadicam long tracking shots to the slow-motion running shots, which are beautifully merged with Vangelis Papathanassiou's score, which will win the Academy Award for the Best Score over John Williams' "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" soundtrack, including The Indiana Jones theme."Chariots of Fire" set the tone within 10 minutes of running time, embedding the picture in a death mass ceremony of character H.M. Abrahams in 1978 over to the dreamlike beach running scene in 1924 to the arriving students at Cambridge University in 1919. In the beginning the director keeps tight focus on the Jewish character of Abrahams, who continuously struggles to find recognition despite his genetic heritage. The watchful spectator will recognize that Abrahams is run by fear, not being enough in this world, visually manifested by disfigured by-standers at the train-station and amputated cripples in front of the University's registration office. The character's fore-leading punchline, "They show where water is, but they don't let me drink." will determine each and every step of Abrahams, who does not slip any opportunity to confront the present rigid organized lobby.The driving characteristic force of Abrahams finds his peak in a lunch with the University's Master of Trinity, played by Sir John Gielgud and his second half the Master of Caius, performed by Lindsay Ansderson, in which arrogantly states "I believe in the pursuit of excellence. And I carry the future with me." before excusing himself by showing himself out. The scene represents the harmonic collaboration between Director and Cinematographer by opening with a long slightly left panning dolly-in shot onto John Gielgud's character, breaking the tension with tense close-ups of all three characters before retreating into the full shot again. Hugh Hudson keeps close track that each scene of his picture is fluently connected to the next. A technique he borrowed from Masters as David Lean, who came before. This obvious circumstance might have cost the director the Academy Award for Best Directing, which eventually went to Actor/Director Warren Beatty for his mammut piece "Reds" (1981).As a kind of nemesis to Abrahams, rightfully Academy Award winning screenwriter Colin Welland developed the character of Eric Liddell living isolated and secured in the Scottish Highlands, pushed by his brother and local priest to become a hardcore Catholic. "Don't compromise. Compromise is the devil's companion" as the priest states in his short but decisive appearance. Liddell being set off does social work for native children's, holding lectures in churches and representing the so-called mascular Christian. Later the Abrahams supporting character of coach Sam Mussabini, brought to life by actor Ian Holm will say about Liddell that he is man to be a runner "He is all heart, running on pure nerves." The pacifistic rivalry between Liddell & Abrahams becomes the character-driven theme, which lets "Chariots of Fire" stand out of the dramatic competition.The timelessly designed setting by a handful of Art Directors and the simplistic, nevertheless neatly researched running outfits by Milena Canonero, leads the the picture at running time marker 46mins 00sec at a local sport arena, where Abrahams & Liddell have there uneventful showdown in the year 1923. Suspense is carefully risen in an Interior Locker room, where Liddell wins, before the race even hears its initiating gunshot, by the shaking Abrahams hand after a slowly fading synthesizer composition by Vangelis "May the best man win". At that moment everything in this picture stops in an blink of an eye and all departures from producer, director, cast, cinematography and designers become one - winning Best Picture for the year 1981 at the Academy Awards on March 29th 1982, but considered unworthy by the Cannes Festival's Jury around Jacques Deray on May 27th 1981 to gain momentum as a full circle cinematic achievement.© 2017 Felix Alexander Dausend
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