Continuing my streak of past Best Picture winners, I took the opportunity to watch (for the first time) CHARIOTS OF FIRE. While it's about as unchallenging and "white bread" as you can get for this type of fare, it still remains an inspirational sports drama and character study that explores the reasons behind wanting to achieve greatness. The two points of comparison are Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), the former a British Jew and the latter a Scottish Christian. Both have intensely personal reasons for wanting to win the gold in the 1924 Olympics. Harold is in it for personal achievement as a way to transcend the anti-Semitism he experiences, while Eric runs for God. Although the film sets them up as rivals, they only ever compete against each other once, and not in the Olympics (they are in separate events). This actually works in the film's favor, though, as this allows the audience to root for the success of both. It goes without saying that the acting is all top-notch, and the cast contains a who's-who of famous British actors. Aside from the two leads, you have John Gielgud and Ian Holm in supporting roles as the Master of Trinity and Harold's coach, respectively. Then there's the iconic theme by Vangelis which is certain to inspire you. Even if this film isn't too well remembered, the theme music is, and it's one of the most stirring ever composed. There is also the excellent use of slow motion during the racing scenes. Although it's been parodied and spoofed dozens of times since, here it remains free of irony and is a brilliant way to showcase the physical form of the competitors. The only thing I can think of that really dampens the experience is how simplistic and "safe" the film is. It's not really a surprise that the Academy chose it as the Best Picture for its year, but it could have explored its themes of patriotism and spirituality with a little more depth. The story itself was also very predictable (as sports dramas often are) and its resolution a foregone conclusion. Still, what really makes the film worth watching is what happens in between, the journey to the Olympics that its two leads embark upon. Overall, it's not necessarily the best sports movie I've ever seen (nor the most memorable), but it's a wholesome and endearing film that should appeal to all ages.