Chariots of Fire – Film Review

Chariots of Fire is a rare breed of film in that it is such a classic that I didn’t even know that I already had its most famous scene embedded deep in my brain. The opening scene of men running on a beach has transcended the film and entered popular culture on a cellular level. Now 31 years old Chariots of Fire has been polished up and is set for a re-release in cinemas ready for London 2012.

Chariots of Fire follows two athletes who compete in the 1924 Olympics. Both are struggling with more than just trying to finish first as religious concerns have a large impact on the film. One athlete, Eric Liddle as played by Ian Charleson, is a devout Christian who refuses to run on Sundays and his opponent/team-mate, Harold Abrahams as played by Ben Cross, is a Jew running to overcome prejudice.

I can’t say much about the restoration but the film looks incredible regardless, lots of grain and imperfections. Clear care and attention has been paid to the cinematography and the running scenes in particular have been given a real sense of raw energy that was somewhat lacking from the modern counterpart Fast Girls. Chariots of Fire is filled with great acting and this combined with the considered direction meant that the whole experience felt very real, no matter how predictable the ending may have been.

Presumably there are other people who haven’t seen Chariots of Fire yet and if this is you then here is the perfect opportunity to see a British classic. It has a young Nigel Havers in a major role, what more can you ask for? This is Fast Girls for the 20th Century and is all the better for it.

Chariots of Fire is a real classic and it is easy to see why this uplifting film has won so much acclaim. The film is surprisingly stylish for one made over twenty years ago, the running scenes have a real energy to them and “that music” has probably become more famous than the film itself. The plot doesn’t really hold any surprises but its tale of two rival athletes putting their differences aside for King and country finally put me in the mood for London 2012.