Film Review: Chariots of Fire

Hugh Hudson’s Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire gets a cinematic re-release just in time for the Olympics. Despite the three decades that have passed since the original release, Chariots of Fire holds up well.

Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student at Cambridge, is determined to excel in athletics. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian from Scotland, has similar goals. Despite their different backgrounds, both men train to compete in the 1924 Olympic Games, hoping to represent Great Britain…

Chariots of Fire is a well-crafted film that is deserving of its numerous accolades. Given that the film is based on true events, there are few real surprises in the narrative. Nevertheless, Chariots of Fire grips viewers throughout. The film generates tension tremendously effectively.

Both Abrahams and Liddell have compelling stories. The beauty of Colin Wellend’s Oscar-winning screenplay is the way these characters are set up. Although their backgrounds are divergent, the two protagonists share the same drive. Both are depicted as outsiders to a certain extent, something that propels Abrahams in particular on his mission for success.

Themes of the outsider, or going against the norm, are particularly pertinent when thinking about current British politics and the attitude to elitism. Both Liddell and Abrahams are relatable characters, even if they are not the typical heroes. Although a zealous Christian and a wealthy but discriminated against Jew are not everymen, they offer the underdog qualities that give the audience something to root for.

Performances throughout Chariots of Fire are good. Ben Cross as Abrahams and Ian Charleson as Liddell are very believable in their roles. Costumes in the film seem very authentic for the period setting. The only real giveaway that the film was made in the 1980s is the synth-heavy score by Vangelis. The score is incredibly effective; it is easy to see why it has gone on to become one of the most recognised themes in film history.

For those wanting to capture the Olympic mood, Chariots of Fire is a must-see film.

Chariots of Fire will be released in cinemas on 13th July 2012.