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Director Hugh Hudson's absorbing drama, based on a true story, deals with the personal struggles faced by two very different long-distance runners competing for Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a devout Christian who sees victory as a testament to the glory of God, while the other, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Cambridge student who sees victory as a challenge to anti-Semitism and his ongoing struggle for acceptance by Britain's elite. Eric, a hometown Scottish hero to the people, gives rousing sermons after victory and works at a local missionary. Harold runs with a zealous commitment, upsetting Cambridge's educational upper crust (played with enjoyable wit and candor by Sir John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson) while enjoying social life with his university chums and his beautiful showgirl girlfriend (Alice Krige). But when faced with such a competent challenger, Harold hires trainer Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm) to further his dreams of winning the gold. Ultimately, the two runners meet in Paris to run for British victory in a rousing finale. Featuring an unforgettable soundtrack by Vangelis, this Academy Award-winning film is an inspirational story of athletic excellence and spiritual awakening that captures the zeal of post-WWI Britain and the glory of the Olympics.
1981 - Academy Awards - Best Costume Design Winner
1981 - Academy Awards - Best Picture Winner
1981 - Academy Awards - Best Original Score Winner
1981 - Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay Winner
Hugh Hudson - British Director
Nigel Havers - British Actor
Cheryl Campbell - Actress/"Greystoke"
Ben Cross - British Actor
Bernard Cross - British Actor
Ian Charleson - British Actor
Vangelis - Composer
Ian Holm - British actor, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (2001)
Ian Holm Cuthbert - British actor, THE LORD OF THE RINGS (2001)
This Academy Award-winning film, based on a true story, follows the rivalry between two long-distance runners competing for Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games.
CHARIOTS OF FIRE was the official British entry in the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. The film is the directorial debut for Hugh Hudson. The film also features one of the first film roles of Ben Cross. CHARIOTS OF FIRE was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture, Best (Original) Screenplay and Best Original Score.
"...Strong script values and top-notch performances....The casting is pin point..." - 04/08/1981 Variety
"...Unashamedly rousing, invigorating....Splendidly performed..." - 09/25/1984 New York Times, p.C14
"...There are some excellent character turns from the likes of John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson..." - 09/01/2001 Sight and Sound, p.58
"[C]ompelling....An extraordinary study of individualism and class conflict..." - 02/04/2005 Entertainment Weekly, p.118