The come-from-behind winner of the 1981 Oscar for Best Picture, Chariots of Fire either strikes you as either a cold exercise in mechanical manipulation or as a tale of true determination and inspiration. The heroes are an unlikely pair of young athletes who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics: devout Protestant Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a divinity student whose running makes him feel closer to God, and Jewish Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a highly competitive Cambridge student who has to surmount the institutional hurdles of class prejudice and anti-Semitism. There's delicious support from Ian Holm (as Abrahams's coach) and John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson as a couple of Cambridge fogies. Vangelis's soaring synthesized score, which seemed to be everywhere in the early 1980s, also won an Oscar. Chariots of Fire was the debut film of British television commercial director Hugh Hudson (Greystoke) and was produced by David Puttnam. --Jim Emerson
Chariots of Fire is the excellent story of two runners (Eric Liddell, portrayed by the late Ian Charleson and Harold Abrahams who is played by Ben Cross)in the 1924 Olympic Games.
It is an understated epic showing the dichotomy of faith and self determination. It is also two fine character studies of men blessed with as much courage and fire as they do athletic prowess.
The overall effect of the film is inspirational. The stories of these great men inspire me and I believe countless others to always live life to its utmost. Two scenes stand out in my memory that illustrate this effect.
The first takes place at a track meet between Scotland and France. Liddell takes a bad spill in the 400 meters event and somehow manages to not only get back up but catch up with the field and win the race as he falls to the ground utterly exhausted form his ordeal.
When Sam Mussabini (Abrahams' Coach) comments "It's not the prettiest 400 I've ever seen Liddell but it is certainly the bravest" the audience is given words with which to process the exhilarating feat they just witnessed.
The second scene takes place after Abrahams loses a race to Liddell. Abrahams is devastated as he has never lost before. He comments to his girl friend that he won't race of he can't win. She counters back: "You can't win if you don't race."
Whether it be in words or pictures Chariots of Fire communicates to the viewer that life is a race worth running full out to the end.
I am glad that I have a wide screen edition of this DVD, however this is a region 3 and cannot play in a regular DVD player, as they play only the region 1 version. It is similar to the version released in UK. Even this version does not have a good audio and video transfer. There are dots in the video and the audio should be better considering the outstanding score by Vangelis. The widescreen edition is farbetter than the one released in US though. I am sad that they are not releasing this one here. I got this one in US through another website, thanks to my enhanced DVD player. So, I would give 5 stars for the movie and 4 stars for the transfer (I am being very generous here).