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 synthesised 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
Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, this internationally acclaimed motion picture recounts the poignant true story of two British sprinters vying for gold in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a driven athlete of Jewish ancestry, runs to overcome prejudice and to achieve personal fame; his rival, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Scottish missionary, competes for the glory of God. An inspirational story of spirit and strength in the face of enormous odds, the film combines the finest elements of athletic competition and human drama to create a compelling and timeless cinematic classic.