Chariots of Fire - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Chariots of Fire Reviews

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June 19, 2016
People in the 1980s and 2010s have different taste in movies
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 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.
½ April 12, 2016
When a film is criticised by one of its actors, who called it 'propagandist' and expressed disbelief that it won the Best Picture Oscar, you can't help but be tempted to see it for yourself. Chariots of Fire was very much the Forrest Gump of its year, in that it certainly wasn't the best film, but its unabashed sentimentality won over those who voted with their hearts rather than their heads. The opening and closing shots of athletes running on the beach to a legendary musical score are great, and the fact that the leads use sprinting as a means of expressing themselves and fighting for what they believe in is very relatable, but the whole thing is too slow, too ponderous and too insubstantial to receive such acclaim, or warrant repeat viewing. Vast stretches of it play like a lacklustre TV soap episode, and drawing it out over the span of 2 hours make it a chore to get through. We're supposed to be on the side of the main character, but when he is on the verge of giving up when he gets beaten once, it undermines how much of a fighter he's supposed to be. Watch it once if you must, it's all you'll need.
½ March 26, 2016
False advertising. There were neither chariots nor fire.
½ March 26, 2016
Chariots of Fire is a well made film with good directing and great acting. The musical score is the best part of the film and this is an entertaining film with lots of great British actors, with the stand out being Ian Holm. The problem is this is a very slow paced film and it does get quite boring at times, also this isn't a very memorable movie. While the opening scene is an iconic scene in all of cinema the rest of this film is very forgettable. I don't hate this movie, it's a good movie with some tense running scene but this is an overrated movie that didn't deserve to win best picture at the oscars over Raiders of the Lost Ark. Chariots of Fire is a good film with some great elements but is overall very forgettable and fairly overrated. B
½ March 20, 2016
Chariots Of Fire is a Best Picture winner that deserves the Oscar, unlike so many others (e.g. The Social Network). The biographical story is very true to fact, unlike so many others (e.g. The Social Network).

Well acted, well scripted, great cinematography and great soundtrack by Vangelis, including the theme song hit. Why can't films use synthesizers in the score as they did in the 70s and 80s? They often sound so good with films.

A great historical story deserves a great film to preserve it for eternity. This film does the events and characters justice. This film was a huge critical and box office success. As you can see, today's "groupthink" critical minions no longer think so. Fair to them, the film has not held up well 35 years after its release. This is not as complex and sophisticated as many movies of today, but still provides a perfect cinematic viewing every time.
½ March 9, 2016
You would think a movie about fast runners wouldn't be this slow.
½ March 1, 2016
Chariots Fire 1981

The film begins in London in 1978

Score done completely on the key board
Beside authentic period music not part of the score.

June 24, 1924

This is about running athletes trying for their Chance to win championship to run in the Paris 1924 Olympics. Two athletes a Jew and Catholic go to Cambridge.

Cambridge 1919

Boys choir sing in front of a list of names of the dead from World War I in England at Cambridge. 1914-1918

Cariots of Fire has a authentic historical period look to the film credited to the language, locations, sets, and costumes.

The two factors that make you identify that the film is made in the early 1980's is the musical score and the slow motion running that immediately tell you when the film is made and know it is not a period film.

What I like is the historical period locations and authentic period cloths that sell the believability of the film.

I am not sure if I would watch the film all the way through again. I was not into the story because it was not that interesting. There were no challenges that were obviously stood in the way. The film it went a little too long.
February 28, 2016
Being the Best Picture Oscar-winner and featuring an iconic soundtrack, Chariots of Fire sounded like an absolute classic.


Hugh Hudson is clearly a passionate and patriotic director. It's clear from the first shot of men running along the beach that his main intention with Chariots of Fire will be to capture the brilliant achievements of the two central athletes, a notion which is supported by the rest of the film. But when it comes to the actual experience, there is only so much time you can spend watching a group of young European men running through a series of terrain. Chariots of Fire insists on making viewers sit through it for 120 minutes of it with a series of extensive upper-class conversations in between. The former boast stylish appeal, but the latter drags anchors the experience in an overly slow pace with an abundance of talking. There are some spirited moments of dialogue in the screenplay, but the majority of the dialogue is just endless conversations in which the main characters somehow get lost amid the countless generic supporting figures. Chariots of Fire would clearly be most influential in its homeland for how it depicts the achievements of its main characters, but looking at it from an Australian context I feel that the film is a little too esoteric in the modern day
One of the supposed themes of Chariots of Fire is how English Jew Harold Abrahams is running to overcome prejudice. I actually struggled to find this within the film since everything was so focused on emphasizing the accomplishments of its athletes that it forgets to truly capture the challenges they succumb to along the way, aside from some of the general physical aspects of training and running in general. The meandering attempts to make Chariots of Fire a character piece are too far and in between in favour of the larger scale of things, even though the film fails to capture international value in its cultural history. The political context in Chariots of Fire feels ignored as the entire feature seems like such a simple historical drama which is little more than a reconstruction of events without much touching drama to go with it. The central problem is really that Chariots of Fire idolizes the achievements of its characters too much to depict them as much more than upper-class sporting heroes. There is no denying that the physical accomplishments of the stars and that Hugh Hudson's eye for imagery captures this with energetic flair, but his grip on finding actual edge in the material fails to supply appropriate drama to suffice.
Frankly, Chariots of Fire is a film which just goes in circles with all its extended periods of boring dialogue. And for a film about such fast athletes, Chariots of Fire is ridiculously slow. The races depicted in the film are over in seconds, yet the film takes more than two hours to stumble through all its pompous banter. The only scenes I really valued were the stylish moments, and even they were too sporadic over the course of two hours. The opening scene highlights everything about Hugh Hudson's keen eye for imagery because it depicts the fast skills of the film's athletic characters and just how well director of photography David Watkin is determined to capture them. The running scenes themselves are very inspired, capitalizing on the full power of the visuals and the music. The cinematography itself works to capture both the magnificent large spectacle of the scenery in its wide-angle shots while zeroing in on the characters doing the running. This gives the film colour and powerful sporting spirit.
But of course, the musical work of Vangelis is the greatest asset to Chariots of Fire. The Academy Award-winning musical score evokes a real 1980's feeling during some of its more subtle moments, but this aspect becomes restrained in the face of the big-scale sequences of racing. Vangelis' musical score works powerfully with the slow-motion in these scenes to capitalize on the full extent of glory in the stylish achievement of Hugh Hudson's work. Since the low-budget of Chariots of Fire managed to end up as such a strong exercise in style that was able to churn out massive box-office returns and contemporary critical acclaim, it has been heavily credited with revitalizing the fading British film industry. In that sense I will certainly praise Chariots of Fire for the value of its influence, but as a standalone film it just lacked the necessary entertainment value.
And though the characters in Chariots of Fire are from deep enough, the cast manage to contribute their natural charms to the roles.
Ian Charleson is the most likable character in Chariots of Fire. With the intention of his character Eric Liddell being simply to run for the grace of god, Ian Charleson tackles the determination of his part with natural energetic spirit. Aware of his challenges in the role, Ian Charleson takes them on without fear. The scenes depicting him running show the full extent of his athletic skills, and it is hardly a performance for him since everything comes to him so naturally in terms of both running and grasping the dramatic mood of things. Ian Charleson delivers a top effort in Chariots of Fire.
Ben Cross is also great. With a character that faces a greater modicum of genuine drama that Ian Charleson while also battling a physical challenge of his own, Ben Cross captures a strong performance in the part of Harold Abrahams. Ben Cross captures the vulnerability and insecurity of the character while overshadowing it with a focus on plain ambition, to prove himself both as a runner and a human being. Ben Cross takes a strong stand in Chariots of Fire, and the major training scene depicting him working with Sam Mussabini depicts the full inspiration in his effort.
The actor in the role of Sam Mussabini, Ian Holm, is one of the greatest cast members in the film. Though perhaps lacking sufficient screen time to deserve an Academy Award nomination, Ian Holm's performance is bolstered by a brilliantly passionate spirit which the man is able to articulate entirely through his manner of speaking. He shouts words with such a great passion that the inspiration is clear, and his chemistry with Ben Cross illuminates the greatest extent of spirit in the film. Ian Holm's acting skills prove to be a great asset to Chariots of Fire.

Chariots of Fire is a patriotic film with a brilliant musical score on behalf of Vangelis, but it is too esoteric with its language and simplistic with its characterization to offer much contemporary appeal outside of its native land, leaving it as an overly long and slow-paced historical drama which lacks sufficient edge for a sports film.
½ February 27, 2016
good oscar winning drama in which images & music score melt together perfectly.
½ February 6, 2016
Quite good but dragged in places.
October 14, 2015
Great soundtrack, but that's it. Maddeningly slow. So boring. The acting is atrocious. Everyone has the same facial expression. Oscar winner my foot...
½ October 4, 2015
I hadn't seen this film since it ran in theaters, and frankly hadn't given it much thought except for the occasional mention as a Best Picture winner that nobody seemed to ever think about again. It's puzzling that this film was such a phenomenon in it's day. It's a perfectly fine, well-made film in the mode of a very dry, classy BBC production. The Vangelis theme music is extremely compelling, but is featured for all of 5-10 minutes of screen time. I can see why people would like the film, but can't for the life of me see why people LOVED it or why it won Best Picture.
July 9, 2015
Really seriously boring. How this won best picture is a mystery
½ June 28, 2015
Chariots of Fire tells an interesting story, but fails to make it as engaging as it should be, and modern viewers will have a difficult time understanding the dialogue through the actors' thick accents.
May 17, 2015
The inspiring,victorious real life story of champion in and out of the tracks.Check for Vangelis music score
½ May 10, 2015
With boring and flat characters, uninspired and weak story, awfully boring and dreadfully dull tone and overall bad approach, Chariots of Fire is a joke of a Best Picture winner and one of the worst ever to win the 'coveted' award. It is solidly made and the score is absolutely terrific with an extraordinary theme, but everything else in this movie falls apart, it is tedious to watch and it is one of the most overrated films of the eighties that proves how incredibly weak dramas were in this decade.
April 27, 2015
The action, the drama, the music, the costumes, and the fact that this is based on a true story always combine to give me a lump in my throat. Compulsory viewing prior to any Olympic Games. Inspirational. My favourite film of 1981. AAW 1001
½ April 11, 2015
"Chariots of Fire" may be slowly-paced, but it still holds up as the movie that every sports film aspires to be. It examines British society after the Great War through the eyes of Olympic runners Abrahams & Liddell and focuses on what drives both men to be greats. Ultimately Chariots of Fire is a look at two men who found ways to stay true to their beliefs in the face of what society expected of them.
April 9, 2015
S--------l------o-------w B-------u------Zzzzzzzzz-ahhh just forget it.
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