Chariots of Fire

1981

Chariots of Fire

Critics Consensus

Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.

84%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 67

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 37,105
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Movie Info

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. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

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Cast

Ben Cross
as Harold Abrahams
Ian Charleson
as Eric Liddell
Nigel Havers
as Lord Andrew Lindsay
Ian Holm
as Sam Mussabini
John Gielgud
as Master of Trinity
Cheryl Campbell
as Jennie Liddell
Alice Krige
as Sybil Gordon
Brad Davis
as Jackson Scholz
Nicholas Farrell
as Aubrey Montague
Lindsay Anderson
as Master of Caius
Dennis Christopher
as Charles Paddock
Patrick Magee
as Lord Cadogan
Peter Egan
as Duke of Sutherland
Struan Rodger
as Sandy McGrath
David Yelland
as Prince of Wales
Yves Beneyton
as George Andre
Daniel Gerroll
as Henry Stallard
Jeremy Sinden
as President, Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Gordon Hammersley
as President, Cambridge Athletic Club
Andrew Hawkins
as Secretary, Gilbert and Sullivan Society
Richard Griffiths
as Head Porter, Caius College
John Young
as Rev J.D. Liddell
Benny Young
as Rob Liddell
Yvonne Gilan
as Mrs. Liddell
Jack Smethurst
as Sleeping Car Attendant
Gerry Slevin
as Col. Keddie
Peter Cellier
as Savoy Head Waiter
Philip O'Brien
as American Coach
Ralph Lawton
as Harbormaster
Ed Wiley
as Fitch
John Rutland
as Caius Porter
Alan Dudley
as Caius Manservant
Tommy Boyle
as Reporter
Kim Clifford
as Sybil's Maid
Wallace Campbell
as Highland Provost
Pat Doyle
as Jimmie
David John
as Ernest Liddell
Teresa Dignan
as Schoolgirl
Ruby Wax
as Bunty
David Kivlin
as Scots Boy
Eddie Hughson
as Scots Boy
Rosy Clayton
as Linda Wallis
Sarah Roache
as Doreen Sloane
James Usher
as Steven Ambrose
Leonard Mullen
as Peter Jones
Dave Turner
as Phil Tait
Gayle Grayson
as Minor Role
Paul Howard
as Alan Lorimer
Sue Sammon
as Minor Role
Alan E. Lorimer
as Minor Role
Graham Brooke
as Paul Mahoney
Carole Ashby
as Linda Boyland
Michael Lonsdale
as Garth Jones
Linda Boyland
as Minor Role
Nigel Davenport
as Lord Birkenhead
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Critic Reviews for Chariots of Fire

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (17)

Audience Reviews for Chariots of Fire

  • Jun 09, 2016
    It is certainly overrated and doesn't justify the many Oscars it won/was nominated to, but still it is technically competent (especially Vangelis' music and the film's editing) even if it is also a bit too conventional and slows down in its second half almost to the speed of a turtle.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • May 13, 2013
    Depth is all you can count on for this historical drama to move you, religious or not.
    Max G Super Reviewer
  • Nov 07, 2012
    Okay, so I'm superficial, but the CLOTHES in this movie are breathtaking! As are all the vehicles--cars with wood paneling, sleeper cars in trains with same paneling and little servants who bring tea to that same sleeper car to wake you. It made me long for a world I've experienced only on PBS mini-series and made me long to dress like they do in this movie although I would probably be considered mad. Several social points I thought were brilliantly conveyed: the idea of immigrant as striver; the idea that aristocracy actually loathes outstanding achievement (the gentleman's C--see George W. Bush and all the Kennedys' report cards from Harvard and Yale); and the notion of sports--in this case field and track--as a physical way to prove something about your character, which must be why people get so upset when professional athletes do something that mars that character like take PEDs or give in to carnal urges. One particularly telling moment about class: the Prince of Wales invites the American runner (who is obviously of his class) to lunch at his club, but tells Abrahamson to "do your best, that's all anyone can expect." I found it actually chilling.
    Bathsheba M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2012
    On one hand soapy and fraught with bathos, on another superbly acted. And the music is pretty terrible in a modern context. But chariots of fire DOES work and is a pleasure to watch, albeit sprinkled with some intermittent grimaces.
    Jeff L Super Reviewer

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