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Chariots of Fire [VHS] (1981)

Ben Cross , Ian Charleson , Hugh Hudson  |  PG |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (500 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Daniel Gerroll
  • Directors: Hugh Hudson
  • Writers: Colin Welland
  • Producers: David Puttnam, Dodi Fayed, Jake Eberts, James Crawford
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: April 1, 1992
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (500 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6300271498
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #277,206 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The come-from-behind winner of the 1981 Oscar for bestpicture, 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 Fire was the debut film of British television commercial director Hugh Hudson (Greystoke) and was produced by David Puttnam. --Jim Emerson

Product Description

An amazing true stroy of 2 british marathon runners in 1924 who brought britian a most memorable moment by winning the olympic gold medal

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
265 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT MAKES LIDDELL AND ABRAHAMS RUN... March 3, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This is a beautiful film, well directed by Hugh Hudson in his theatrical film debut. It features the true life story of two Olympic runners, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Olympic Games and brought home the Gold.

The film tells the story of these two individuals, who are as different from each other as different can be, and explores their personal drive and reasons for running. Eric Liddell is a staunch Scot and a fervid Presbyterian (He would put John Knox to shame!). The son of a missionary and himself a missionary by avocation, he runs because "God made him fast for a reason". His running is a reconciliation of his faith and his passion, which is running. He runs for the glory of God. His faith always remains constant and pre-eminent in his life. His devotion to it causes some controversy during the Olympics, as a consequence of the stance he takes when he discovers that the preliminary mete for the 200 metre race would be held on a Sunday. Liddell simply refuses to run on the Sabbath! Luckily for Great Britain, Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers), a gentleman and fellow competitor, graciously steps in and, as he had already won a gold medal in the hurdles, gives him his place in the 400 metre dash, which would take place on a Thursday. This would never happen today in the dog eat dog world of competitive sports, much less in the Olympics of today!

Harold Abrahams is completely different. A secular Jew and Cambridge scholar, he studies in the bastion of upper crust British society, struggling to fit in but always remaining the proverbial outsider. He has a passion for running that is motivated by his passion for winning. In his world, God has nothing to do with it.
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65 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Compromise is the Language of the Devil." July 20, 2005
Format:DVD
Chariots of Fire, no matter what I view in the future, will always be in my Top 10 list of movies. The setting, the actors, and the plot are incomparable. However, what I treasure the most are the values intrinsic to the tale. How often does film concern infidelity, murder, hatred, deceit or the pathological need to dominate others? Well over 80 percent of the time I would guess, but here, in this masterwork, man is depicted at his finest. In Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, we are presented with exemplars of our species. These are the adults you dreamed of being when you were a small child. Their lives showcase a grandeur seldom seen in our own.

The film is set in the years immediately following the first world war, when feelings of grief and despair were ubiquitous. Upon their arrival at Cambridge, Abrahams and Montague are assisted by two former wounded soldiers, and one of them could best be described as "mutilated." Such a fate, the two young athletes were quite lucky not to have shared.

Societies that experienced the caldrons of the Somme and Paschendale were not as quick to dismiss the existence of God as we are today with our spoiled affluence and inflated life expectancies. To be saved from the carnage raging around you is not something to take lightly. Given the solemnity of their era, the seriousness and devotion integral to Liddell and Abrahams is not surprising. Competition was undertaken for more important reasons than money or fame.

Eric Liddell eventually concludes that missionary work in China will have to wait until he fulfills his athletic promise. He believes that God did not give out gifts without a purpose. The Lord's intention was that what Liddell was given must be used.
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104 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With hope in our hearts and wings in our heels! July 7, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
The athletes of the British running team who went with hope in their hearts and wings in their heels in the VIII Olympiad in Paris in 1924 is the focus of this movie, but there's also the dynamics of what it means to be English, and the reconciliation of one's soul and religious convictions in the Modern Age. Three of them are students from Cambridge. There is the quiet and soft-spoken Aubrey Montague, Lord Andrew Lindsey, and Harold Abrahams. As the head of Caius (pronounced Keys) College tells them when they first attend in 1919, they are the first post-war generation who have inherited the dreams of a generation that perished on the fields of France, a generation embodying "goodness, zeal,...and intellectual promise."
The two main athletes here are a contrast from one another. One is Harold Abrahams, a Jew who wants to be seen as English as the fellow next to him. Hence his enrolling in all these clubs and fraternities in Caius College, from track, tennis, and even the Gilbert and Sullivan glee club-he wants to enter the Christian, Anglo-Saxon corridors of power, i.e. the old school tie. He succeeds in getting to an English girl in the form of Sybil Gordon, who doesn't mind he's Jewish. He can run like the wind, and nothing would fulfill his dream of being English more than winning so he'll be accepted, but he's so driven, hinging so much of his success on his winning, that he acts like its his own funeral when he loses in a race. He engages Sam Mussabini, a private and professional coach, which is contrary to the implied rules of Cambridge.
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