Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire

4.3 25
Director: Hugh Hudson

Cast: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers


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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…  See more details below


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.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Two British track stars -- one a devout Scottish minister, the other a status-hungry English Jew -- compete in the 1924 Olympics in this celebrated drama, a winner of four Oscars, including Best Picture, in 1981. Ben Cross rose to considerable prominence thanks to his portrayal of Harold Abrahams, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant and a fiercely proud man whose painful experience of the British class system casts him in the underdog role. Ian Charleson is equally good as Eric Liddell, the son of missionaries stationed in China who is a decent man and a disciplined athlete. The rivalry between these two charismatic competitors drives Chariots all the way along to their fateful race at the Paris Olympics. And what a run it is: Director Hugh Hudson renders the period with sobriety and stateliness and avoids the usual clichés of sports-themed movies. Ian Holm lends worthy support as Harold’s Italian-Arabic coach, and Sir John Gielgud contributes an amusing cameo. Production-wise, the film is first rate in every way, and the evocative musical score by Vangelis -- an Oscar-winning effort that, for better or worse, long served Madison Ave. as the modern equivalent of Pachelbel’s Canon in D -- works perfectly with David Watkins’s cinematography. A truly inspirational story that unexpectedly captured the hearts of moviegoers, Chariots remains a career high point for all those involved in its making.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
As a handsomely realized and superbly acted story about the multi-faceted drive to win, it was perhaps all the more appropriate that Chariots of Fire (1981) overcame its dark-horse status to take the Best Picture Oscar. Based on the true story of two British runners in the 1924 Olympics, the experiences of Ben Cross' Jewish Cambridge student and Ian Charleson's devout missionary peel away the usual patriotic dross to reveal the complex motives that drive competition. The deeply personal victories at stake are rendered all the more dramatic by debut director Hugh Hudson's dynamic training and racing sequences, beginning with the oft-imitated slow-motion run along the beach to the famous strains of Vangelis' Oscar-winning synthesizer score. Along with Cross and Charleson, the ensemble cast shines, particularly Ian Holm as Cross' track coach; John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson, meanwhile, are the quintessential Cambridge Old Guard snobs. Hailed as an old-fashioned, yet unusually intelligent celebration of human spirit, Chariots of Fire became a much-needed international hit for the British film industry and a personal triumph for producer David Puttnam when it snuck past the favored Reds (1981) in the final 1981 Oscar race. Colin Welland's screenplay and Milena Canonero's exquisite period costumes won Oscars as well.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Commentary by director Hugh Hudson

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ben Cross Harold Abrahams
Ian Charleson Eric Liddell
Nigel Havers Lord Andrew Lindsay
Nicholas Farrell Aubrey Montague
Ian Holm Sam
Daniel Gerroll Henry Stallard
John Gielgud Master of Trinity
Alice Krige Sybil Gordon
Lindsay Anderson Master of Caius
Cheryl Campbell Jennie Liddell
Struan Rodger Sandy
Patrick Magee Lord Cadogan
Dennis Christopher Charles Paddock
Brad Davis Jackson Scholz
Robin Pappas Clare
Ruby Wax Bunty
David Yelland Prince of Wales
Peter Egan Duke of Sutherland
Carole Ashby Actor
Colin Bruce Taylor
Peter Cellier Savoy Head Waiter
Rosy Clayton Linda Wallis
Kim Clifford Sybil's Maid
Richard Griffiths Head Porter, Caius College
Andrew Hawkins Secretary, Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Paul Howard Actor
David John Ernest Liddell
Michel Lonsdale Actor
Alan Polonsky Paxton
John Rutland Caius Porter
Jack Smethurst Sleeping Car Attendant
James Usher Steven Ambrose
Ed Wiley Fitch
Yves Beneyton George Andre
Nigel Davenport Lord Birkenhead
Yvonne Gilan Mrs. Liddell
Gordon Hammersley President, Cambridge Athletic Club
Jeremy Sinden President, Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Benny Young Rob Liddell
John Young Rev J.D. Liddell
Philip O'Brien American Coach

Technical Credits
Hugh Hudson Director
Jonathan Benson Asst. Director
Matthew Binns Asst. Director
Milena Canonero Costumes/Costume Designer
Dodi Fayed Executive Producer
Louise Frogley Costumes/Costume Designer
Roger Hall Art Director
David Puttnam Producer
Terry Rawlings Editor
Vangelis Score Composer
David Watkin Cinematographer
Colin Welland Screenwriter
Clive Winter Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Chariots of Fire
1. Praising Famous Men [4:02]
2. Abrahams and Montague [2:16]
3. Cambridge Backroom Law [1:57]
4. Campus Society [4:18]
5. College Dash [4:12]
6. Scotlansd's Finest Wing [3:44]
7. 200-Yard Event [1:20]
8. Run in God's Name [3:52]
9. Running a Straight Race [2:01]
10. Run Them Off Their Feet [3:04]
11. He Remains An Englishman [1:50]
12. Bravest Victory [4:16]
13. Mussabini's Watchful Eye [2:21]
14. Smitten With Sybil [2:17]
15. Smitten With Harold [4:08]
16. Olympic Trials [3:00]
17. "I Run to Win." [3:12]
18. Mussabini Takes the Job [2:18]
19. Training Montage [1:57]
20. Feeling God's Pleasure [4:07]
21. Hurdles Obsessive and Bubbly [2:36]
22. Archaic Masters and a Semite [3:25]
23. Paris-Bound [1:06]
24. Crisis of Conscience [3:28]
25. Yanks Arrive [4:36]
26. Parade of Nations [4:30]
27. Lindsay's Heat [2:42]
28. Royal Pressure; A Solution [1:38]
29. Sunday Heats [8:02]
30. Forever in Pursuit [4:16]
31. Charmed Victory; 100 Meters [2:01]
32. Winners Circle; Hats Off [7:35]
33. Triumphant - For Keeps [2:05]
34. 400 Meters; Divine Pleasure [3:36]
35. Toast of England; Coda [4:35]
36. Cast and End Credits [3:18]

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Chariots of Fire 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I wandered into the theater at the Galleria Mall in Houston in 1981, I was just killing a few hours and saw from the poster that this movie was about runners. Well, was I surprised! This is one of the examples of what motion pictures can be at their highest level. No gratuitous sex, violence or special effects, just a true story told honestly about 2 great athletes and the many struggles they endured to excel. Fine acting by then unknown Ben Cross and the late Ian Charleson, visually stunning and a degree of suspense that sweeps the viewer into another time, when acheivement was measured by a different standard. This is one of the most inspirational movies that can be watched. A true treasure and deservedly the Best Picture winner of that year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BUYER BEWARE: This is a pan & scan release. It has been modified from its original widescreen format and will not look like the original film.  Why the studio released this version of an award-winning film is beyond anyone's guess as well as why this website is selling this corrupted version.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think there is no doubt that this film is an enduring classic. Especially so in the way that Vangelis' music lifts the events of a particular era completely out of time. Unfortunately this DVD is a Pan&Scan release with no significant extras. As such it is both disappointing and overpriced. I would personally hold out for a remastered widescreen release, with director's commentary and an isolated music score.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
CHARIOTS OF FIRE is the inspiring true story of Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, two men whose stories of striving for Olympic gold are reenacted with thematic accuracy. Abrahams, a confident Cambridge student, and self-conscious of his Jewish origin, is the ''toast of England,'' besting all runners with whom he competes. Convinced anyone who isn't first place is a loser, he hires professional trainer Sam Mussambini to assist him in his quest to be the fastest. Eric Liddell, son of Scottish missionaries, runs for God. While he intends to follow in his father's footsteps in returning to the mission in China, his sister believes his love for running will quench his desire to serve God abroad. And when he discovers that his Olympic event is to be run on a Sunday, the Lord's day, he must decide whom to honor. It is the timeless tale of two men, driven by different things, each of whom must triumph by following their own convictions and hearts, making the drama all the richer for it. A story of focus, principle, honor, glory, God-before-king mentality, and sportsmanship, Chariots of Fire will entertain fans from start to finish.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Chariots of Fire is a stirring, Academy Award winning film with marvelous photography which has been criminally transferred to DVD in a Pan and Scan format. Don't buy this version. There are no extras and you can't see all the director and photographer wanted you to see. Wait for the widescreen version. It'll be worth it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best movies I've ever seen. No violence, no foul language, great music score, and excellent acting. My main criticism, even though it's a minor one, is that the scenes of Eric Liddell (Ian Charleston) running are far from accurate. No sprinter (this includes up to 400 meters) would run with his arms flailing about as he runs......sort of like he's trying to fly by flapping his wings. A true sprinter keeps his elbows in close to his body.....if he doesn't, he will not run as fast AT ALL. Truly a great movie, though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gordon Hammersley plays a small but vital role in 'Chariots of Fire'. The young actor died soon after this great film was released, so it is all the more important that we remember his presence and ability. He is the one who sets everything in motion and starts the race- watch out for him!
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you saw the original movie in the theater, you won't like this narrow screen, low-fi DVD. Wait for someone with taste to release a decent version.
Guest More than 1 year ago
''Chariots of Fire'' is a movie that continues to inspire and move me whenever I think about it, and my first viewing was 6 years ago. I have to make a contention with the comment that Eric Liddell's running style in the movie was way off - it was, but the thing was, that's the way he ran in real life. Everyone who saw him race could never understand why he won so many times, since his running style was unorthodox. So, actually, the movie was entirely accurate, and the actor who portrays him had to go through rigorous training to adopt his running style. Plus, if you remember, Eric Liddell is not a true sprinter - he's a long distance runner. ''the old heart digs deep.'' So, that makes the fact that he won the 400 even more amazing, as the 400 is the most rigorous sprint in track and field. Just an interesting fact to keep in mind when you watch the movie - Liddell's excellence truly came not from only his own talent, but his devotion to God. ''Those who honor me, I will honor.''
Guest More than 1 year ago
An inspiring movie, and all the more so because it is based on the TRUE story of Eric Liddell - who, by the way, actually did sprint in that unusual fashion: arms flailing, eyes to the heavens. He ran fast, regardless of his style. Read a biography of him and find out for yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie inspired and thrilled me when it first appeared for all the reasons noted. Now I appreciate how well the film captures a particular moment in British history. It takes place just after the Great War's devastation, when to be 'grasping' (that is, ambitious) and 'Jewish' were still synonymous, and both traits were still disdained by the so-called 'gentlemen' who ran the British Empire -- shortly before World War II wrenched the empire away for good. It helps one understand why this rigid, class-ridden society was doomed even without Hitler's help; Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair would have fared no better in it than Harold Abrahams. Another sad twist: Its executive producer understood 'outsider' status in England quite well. He was scorned as an upstart interloper up to and after his death in a Paris tunnel with lifelong insider Princess Diana.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have seen the movie 5 times and it still inspires me today as it did over 20 years ago. Eric Liddle's faith and conviction captured my full attention as he sprinted across the screen all to the glory of God. As I watched the film I was also reminded of someone else who ran like the wind. His name was Elijah. The Old Testiment has an account of Elijah running faster than the chariots and he is the one the Lord took to heaven in "Chariots of Fire." There are not many movies of this high caliber. Most films with christian faith at the core don't capture the sincerity this one did. 5 star plus!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nothing like a running movie can keep your attention like Chariots of Fire and they are all white guys, not to be prejudicial, excluding Abrahams. WASPS, in fact. Eric Lydle is a man everybody should remember for his faith. Princess Diana's sweetheart Dodi Fayed financed this film by the way.
Dalav More than 1 year ago
Often sports movies sink under their own weight, as the sheer familiarity of sports figures makes it difficult to suspend one's disbelief when watching actors' portrayals. Through the use of unfamiliar actors, and by minimizing the actual sports scenes, Chariots of Fire escapes the trap and allows us to concentrate on the contrasting characters: the fierce intensity and individualism of Abrahams, and in Liddell, the devotion to faith. The beauty is that a sense of Team transcends those character traits on the ultimate sports stage, the Olympics, but only to a point. The characters remain true to themselves. The thoughtful screenplay, which won an Academy award, brings all of this home intelligently. Visually, the flavors and details of the University scene in England in the 1920s are perfectly captured, and the well-heeled, young scholar-athletes are portrayed with sensitivity. And let's not forget the famous slo-mo scenes and the groundbreaking modern synth score by Vangelis that meshed surprisingly well with the 1920s England. Tremendous acting throughout. For the supporting cast, honorable mention to Ian Holm for his portrayal of track coach Sam Mussabini. and for the Pitch perfect all around. It's the depth of the characters that makes me return to it over and over. An inspiring and beautiful film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent historical movie. The story of two UK sprinters at the beginning of the twentieth century. Focuses on two very different internal drives that bring both runners to the Olympic competition.
VirginiaVA More than 1 year ago
This has been a favorite since it came out (back in the day!) The movie weaves together the inspiring stories of two Olympic runners: Eric Liddell, a Scot who eventually becomes a Christian missionary in China, and Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student at Cambridge who pursues his Olympic dream with extreme dedication and determination. With an amazing cast (Sir John Gielgud, Ian Holm, Patrick Magee, Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers et all) it won 4 well-deserved Oscars, including Best Picture, in 1981. This edition includes excellent Special Features -- my sister lost my old (very worn) DVD, so she replaced it with this one from our local B&N. The digitally remastered widescreen edition looked & sounded oh-so-much-better (the excellent soundtrack from Vangelis is amazing!) and the documentaries on the 2nd disc are great. We enjoyed the interviews with the production team, director and actors who shared wonderful stories from the making of the film. One of the best inspirational films of all times - be sure to add this special edition to your collection!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was beyond awesome. a true story retold... it showed what it means to win for a person like eric liddle... a great movie for all ages