1001 Movies – Chariots of Fire (1981)

Chariots of FireTwo British track athletes, one a determined Jew, and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

Brief Thoughts

Before: I saw the stage play in 2012 and although I remember that one was better and the other was faster I can’t remember which way round it is. And I’ve never actually seen the film even though I know the story.

After: I found while watching the film I remembered more and more of the play and the story. But I quickly let that go and just enjoyed it. Also the music is so iconic and brought back happy memories of the summer of 2012


I love films based on real – often small parts – of history that would otherwise have been forgotten.
I feel like almost every Olympics and Paralympics has moments and stories behind each of the athletes that would be a great film and should be remembered. But for whatever reason it’s this story of the 1924 Olympics that is immortalised.


This story is of two athletes and what pushes them to run and to be good enough for the 1924 Olympic Games.
One (Eric) is a priest from Scotland with no formal training but feels God close to him as he runs. The other (Harold) is a Jew who has constantly been pushed down and is determined to use running to show everyone that he’s as good if not better than them – if he becomes the fastest man in the world (100m) then he can show everyone that they are wrong.
Both runners share skill and determination and talent, one is a better runner (Harold) but the other is faster (Eric).

The film is about how they push each other but is also about the moral stand they both take and what they are willing to sacrifice for what’s important to them.
Harold is kicked out of Cambridge for taking on a coach – it’s even more looked down upon when he explains that the coach is half Italian and half Arab – and Eric refuses to run on a Sunday.


Feels weird discussing these characters because it’s based on a real story so instead of talking about what I liked/didn’t like about each character I’m going to put my favourite quote from them on here that I think sums them up the most.

Eric: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Harold: Aubrey, I’ve known the fear of losing but now I am almost too frightened to win.


This music is iconic and amazing. The whole soundtrack is really good and pieces together well but it would be stupid to not spend this section talking about the theme.
It’s really simple in it’s composition – which I think is one of the reason it’s succeeded so much, it’s simple and complex and has a constant repetitive line which makes it hard to forget.
Plus it’s been taken on by a lot of the Olympic committees as their music too so it’s back in the public consciousness every 4 years. During the 2012 games it was played before every competition.

It’s just… awe inspiring because of what this piece of music has grown to represent. I can’t hear it without thinking of the games and I can’t think of the games without this piece of music. The two are so entwined now that I’m not sure if it’s ever going to be possible to separate them


BAFTAS – WINNER: Best costume design, best film, best supporting artist
– NOMINEE: Best cinematography, best editing, best Production Design/Art Direction, best screenplay, best sound, best supporting artist.
Oscars  – WINNER: best picture, best screenplay, best costume, best original score
– NOMINEE: Actor in a supporting role, best direction, best film editing
Golden Globes: WINNER – Best foreign film

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Am I glad I watched it? Yes
Would I watch again? Almost certainly
Would I have watched it if not for this challenge? Yes, as it’s an Olympic year I imagine this film will be on at some point over the summer – maybe in the gap between the Olympics and Paralympics. If so I’ll definitely plonk myself in front of the TV and enjoy it.

This is my 8th film review and while it’s potentially my favourite film so far I really struggled with this review because it felt like I was reviewing someone’s real life and actions. So my apologies for it being so short

Next week I return to my alphabetical list and the 1951 film – ‘Ace in the Hole’


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