a/perture Cinema, AFI, Aubrey Mantague, Ben Cross, Chariots of Fire, Daniel Gerroll, David Yelland, DVD.com, Eric Lindell, Harold Abrahams, Henry Stallard, Ian Charleson, Ian Holm, IMDb, Lord Andrew Lindsay, Netflix, Nicholas Ferrell, Nigel Havers, Rotten Tomatoes, The Less Desirables, Vangelis, WSNC
Per IMDb: “Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.”
The film is based on a true story of two Cambridge University track athletes who compete in the 1924 Olympics.Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) is a devout Scottish Christian whose family are missionaries in China. He runs for the glory of God, deeming that his talents were given to him as such. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is an English Jew who runs to overcome the prejudice of those who dislike him and seek to oppress him because he’s Jewish.
After Eric and Harold race and Eric wins, Harold hires a professional coach (Ian Holm) to the chagrin of the university heads who say it’s ungentlemanly for an amateur to hire a professional coach. Harold contends they’re objecting for anti-Semitic and class-based prejudice. Eric misses a church prayer service because he was running and his sister accuses him of no longer honoring God. He states he plans to return to the mission and to not run would truly be dishonoring God since he got his talents from him.
Both Eric and Harold are accepted to compete, representing Great Britain, in the Paris Olympiad VIII (8th Olympic Games) along with three other Cambridge students: Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers), Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell), and Henry Stallard (Daniel Gerroll). While on the boat to France, Eric learns that the 100 meters race that he’s slated to compete in is on a Sunday and he refuses to run it because it’s the Sabbath. This ticks off the British officials who with the help of the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII, played by David Yelland) try to convince him to run the race, saying they all sympathize with him, his convictions. He still refuses. Lord Andrew Lindsay, who had won a medal already at this point, offers to switch races with Eric to give him his spot in the 400 meters race. He accepts that position; they all accept that position. How does this race turn out. What happens with Eric and Harold? You’ll have to watch to find out.
This movie dragged like a 4 ton block of steel on the back of a 2 ton pickup truck. It’s not a bad film, it just went on and on and on when it could have just gone. It’s not completely accurate but that’s okay; it’s a work of historical fiction. The actors were quite good at what they do, but I just found it hard to stay focused. I’ll admit, too, that I fell asleep twice and had to rewind to catch what was going on. The storyline about Eric Liddell’s refusal to run was a good one and was the only part that I really grasped onto.
I’ll say the best part of the film for me was Vangelis’ theme which I learned to play when i was 15 and moved to WSNC. I knew no one and was too young to drive so I learned to play a lot of stuff. I don’t know if I could still pull it off, now. I always thought it was an awesome piece of music, though, just like the “Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire.” Good stuff.
The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four of them: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score (yay, Vangelis!). It was nominated for both the 1998 and 2007 versions of AFI‘s 100 Years… 100 Movies list (neither time making the list) and is the reason I watched the film. Rotten Tomatoes rates the film 83% Fresh with an Audience Score of 80%. IMDb rates it 7.3 stars out of 10.
I can’t, in good conscience, give you a recommendation to either watch it or not. The story is a good one, but I think it could have clipped a quarter of the film to tell it. The visuals were great and the period portrayal was good, even if the accuracy wasn’t. The young, unknown actors were good. I just can’t say you should watch it. It is available via Netflix‘s DVD.com but I own a copy on DVD, so I watched that. I rate the film a very generous 3 stars out of 5, just because of the theme music. Have you seen it? Am I completely off? Let me know.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“That was the miscalculation of my life.” – Harold M. Abrahams