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Thursday, October 10, 2013

209 of 1001 Movies: Chariots of Fire (1981)

Vangelis for a movie set in the early 1900s. Who knew that Blade Runner music would mesh? Actually it doesn't really mesh at all with the tone of the movie. I've read from fans that at the time of the release the soundtrack was a huge hit with viewers. If you watch I'm sure you'll recognize the tune. I've never thought I was a huge fan of modernized music to a movie that completely sets itself into a different time. Chariots of Fire is old fashioned in appearance, the costumes have no fun modernization either, yet they've taken the soundtrack into the 80's. Had the movie underwent a less 1900s vibe then it might have worked. Instead the soundtrack was one of the huge reasons I just didn't like this one.

Summary: Two track athletes from different backgrounds compete in the 1924 Olympics. Harold is Jewish and he is the son of a rich father. His arrival at Cambridge leaves him trying to prove his place among his peers that he is more than a rich boy, but has real abilities to contribute. Eric is another runner, and is a devout Protestant. When discovering that one of the qualifying races is scheduled on a Sunday he must make a hard decision about whether to run or honor his faith. The two men would rise to fame after their participation in the Olympics and this movie chronicles that.


Acting: The actors do a good job at portraying the leads. They handle it smoothly and realistically in their portrayal. Ian Charleson is Eric, and he puts a lot of passion into the guy's beliefs and makes his role feel very real. He makes a Christian character seem like a real guy. Ben Cross is Harold, and I think Ben also makes his character feel very real. The guy has this quiet demeanor but the way he acts says a lot. I think it would be a huge task to portray someone who was once living, but these guys do it well.

Filming: The movie looks very pretty, and the shots are wonderful. It almost feels like the movie is modern because the director, Hugh Hudson, has used a timeless way of framing the shots. I also thought the movie was just very crisp. The restoration of the film is amazing. Plus, you have unique ways of transitioning in the movie that have clips of the guys doing athletics and then becoming photos in newspapers.

Plot: These guys did have interesting lives that they have chosen to show from the 1924 Olympics. What Eric was refusing to do also is rare, and makes for an interesting showing of loyalty to faith in the story. Harold's transformation is also intriguing. What happened to the guys after the movie is over and the way their stories played out seemed more interesting though. I think seeing Eric travel to China and his journey there would have been more interesting. I just didn't feel anything so astounding about their story leading up to the Olympics that kept me intrigued.

Chariots of Fire is a movie that when I mentioned to people I knew they would say they had heard of it and hadn't seen it. I can see why. It isn't anything I would be running out to watch. I think the portrayal of faith is unique and I enjoyed seeing Christianity being played out in a light that was less cheesy than it is now, but I struggled to find a connection with the people since they seemed sort of bland. I related to the loyalty that Eric had to his faith, but that was that. Also, the score is a classic, but so badly dated.

Rating 7 of 10.


Chariots of Fire (1981) on IMDb

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