"Chariots Of Fire" Is Released

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British film loosely based on historical events surrounding the British athletic team before and during the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris.

The story follows Harold Abrahams, a Jew out to overcome prejudice, and Eric Liddell, a devout missionary running for the glory of God.

The film, which was written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson, was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture.

The title is a reference to the line, "Bring me my chariot of fire," from the William Blake poem adapted into the hymn Jerusalem. The Blake poem was influenced by several Bible verses, most notably 2nd Kings 2:11 regarding Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. The film's working title was "Running" until Welland saw the scene with the singing of the hymn and decided to change the title.

Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man's life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires. As compelling as the racing scenes are, it's really the depth of the two main characters that touches the viewer, as they forcefully drive home the theme that victory attained through devotion, commitment, integrity, and sacrifice is the most admirable feat that one can achieve. (Ian Holm was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Abrahams' coach), and this powerful film ended up with four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. ~ Don Kaye, All Movie Guide