With the Olympics rapidly approaching, Warner Home Video has re-mastered its classic movie Chariots of Fire for Blu-ray release on July 10, ahead of the London Games. In addition, the movie is being screened live across England. It even has a new stage adaptation.
Chariots of Fire is based on the true story of two runners, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, who competed in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Abrahams, played by Ben Cross, is an English Jew who proves his sense of religious equality by defying anti-Semitism throughout the film. Scotsman Liddell, played by Ian Charleson, is a devout Christian, driven by his faith in God.
The movie documents each man's journey through separate perspectives, revealing insights into their background and character. This technique allows the audience to understand both runners on their own terms before they head to Paris to represent Great Britain in the Olympics.
The plot takes a twist when Liddell refuses to run the 100m race because it is scheduled on a Sunday, a day his religion devotes to rest. Even the Prince of Wales cannot persuade him to run in the Sunday race. The situation gets resolved when Liddell's teammate Lord Andrew Lindsay, played by Nigel Havers, forgoes his place in the 400m hurdles and offers Liddell the opportunity to compete in his stead. This touching act allows Liddell to run on a Thursday, remaining faithful to his religious beliefs.
Another touching moment comes at the end of the movie when U.S. runner Jackson Scholz, played by Brad Davis, hands Liddell a note moments before his 400m race communicating his support of Liddell's religious convictions. This helps Liddell explode off the line with speed and power and sprint in his typical style—head facing up toward God.
This uplifting movie, originally released in 1981, was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. Over the years, it has served as inspiration for generations of runners, both on and off the track. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out the Blu-ray before the Olympics.
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