The inspiring true story of two runners from the United Kingdom, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. Contrasting the spiritual motives of one man versus the more selfish goals of the other, their fierce, personal competition ends up uniting them in a great victory in the 1924 Olympics.
The come-from-behind winner of the 1981 Oscar for best picture,Chariots of Fire either strikes you as either a cold exercise in mechanical manipulation or as a tale of true determination and inspiration. The heroes are an unlikely pair of young athletes who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics: devout Protestant Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a divinity student whose running makes him feel closer to God, and Jewish Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a highly competitive Cambridge student who has to surmount the institutional hurdles of class prejudice and anti-Semitism. There's delicious support from Ian Holm (as Abrahams's coach) and John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson as a couple of Cambridge fogies.
Vangelis's soaring synthesized score, which seemed to be everywhere in the early 1980s, also won an Oscar. Chariots of Firewas the debut film of British television commercial director Hugh Hudson (Greystoke) and was produced by David Puttnam.