movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Chariots Of Fire

 (U)
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  Chariots Of Fire Review
Tookey's Rating
7 /10
 
Average Rating
8.17 /10
 
Starring
Ben Cross , Ian Charleson , Ian Holm
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: Hugh Hudson
Written by: Colin Welland (AAW, LONDON FILM CRITICS' AWARD - SCREENWRITER OF THE YEAR)

 
 
 
Released: 1981
   
Genre: ACTION
DRAMA
SPORTS
COSTUME
BIOPIC
   
Origin: GB
   
Colour: C
   
Length: 123
 
 


 
Still stirring stuff.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Just in time for the Olympics is a re-release of Chariots of Fire, the 1981 Oscar-winner about two British athletes attempting to win medals at the 1924 Olympics by running in slow motion.

Colin Welland's script about the Olympic spirit, God and the class system has little perceptive to say about any of these topics. It also contains anachronisms, inaccuracies and continuity errors, many of them to do with flags – which is odd in a film that is itself a flag-waver.

I have a sneaking sympathy for the jaundiced view of its leading actor, Ian Charleson (pictured centre), who described it as "a tedious, propagandistic film. How it ever won the Oscar is beyond me. I think if one watches Chariots of Fire a second time, one realises there is less there than meets the eye."

However, Americans, perhaps surprisingly in view of their must-win ethic, warmed to it as a parable about the importance of having a code of honour or a religious belief which transcend the notion of winning at all costs.

And, of course, the reason it succeeds with audiences around the world is that it's a stirring tale about inspiring people. Both Charleson, playing a Scot with fervent Protestant ideals, and Cross, (pictured right) playing an abrasive Jew who’s very aware of anti-semitism, use running as a way to assert their dignity. Nigel Havers (pictured left) also makes an impact as a decent, self-sacrificing representative of the English aristocracy.

The running sequences, helped by Vangelis’ remarkable, deservedly Oscar-winning score, achieve a kind of poetry rare in cinema. Watching it just before this year’s biggest sporting event is both an exercise in nostalgia and a foretaste of things to come.


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