Based on real-life events that gripped the 1924 Olympics, this inspiring 1981 Oscar-winning film won four Academy Awards for best picture, best original music score, best original screenplay and best costume design. Nominated for best supporting actor – as a cigar-chomping professional coach barred from the games – is Ian Holm, who 25 years later would earn fame as Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings.
Chariots of Fire centers on devout, light-hearted Presbyterian missionary Eric Liddell, played by Ian Charleson, who is back from the mission field and delights in speaking at Bible studies and church picnics. He runs for the glory of God – and describes his sheer joy of running – how he feels divinely inspired on the track: "God made me for a purpose. He made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure."
But the world is stunned when at the Paris Olympiad VIII, Liddell refuses to run on a Sunday in his specialty, the 100-meter sprint – although he is certain to win, putting Britain ahead in gold medals. As Liddell declines to compete on the Lord’s Day, the line-up is shuffled and Liddell agrees to to run in Tuesday’s 400-meter race – a longer in which he ordinarily does not excel. Taking his spot in Sunday’s competition is intense Jewish sprinter Harold Abrahams, played by Ben Cross. As they battle impossible odds, have your heart lifted by the haunting strains of Vangelis’ Oscar-winning tubular bells theme as Liddell’s words resound from the Prophet Isaiah: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and be not weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
~ Rob Kerby
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