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Chariots of Fire

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United Kingdom · 1981
Rated PG · 2h 5m
Director Hugh Hudson
Starring Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Cheryl Campbell, Alice Krige
Genre Drama, History

In the class-obsessed and religiously divided United Kingdom of the 1920s, two determined young runners train for the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric, a devout Christian, sees running as a way to worship God and refuses to train or compete on the Sabbath. Harold overcomes anti-Semitism, but neglects his beloved sweetheart in his single-minded quest.

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What are critics saying?


TV Guide Magazine by

A pleasant, mildly inspirational movie but hardly worthy of all the accolades it received.


Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

Despite its blatant mediocrity, this 1981 British film knocked 'em dead everywhere, which makes me suspect that audiences weren't responding to the film itself as much as to the attitudes that underlie it.


Chicago Tribune by Gene Siskel

The beautifully told but predictable story of two athletes who competed in the 100-meter dash for England in the 1924 Olympics...The film has received choruses of praise prior to its nationwide opening this week. Although it is extremely well made, I frankly don't understand what the shouting is about. Good, yes; great, no. [25 Dec 1981, p.56]


ReelViews by James Berardinelli

There's barely a whiff of melodrama in Chariots of Fire, which makes the film-watching experience all the more effective -- director Hugh Hudson shows respect for the integrity of his material and the intelligence of his audience. The absence of mawkish moments provides the narrative with a genuine quality that supports its factual background.


New York Daily News by Kathleen Carroll

Chariots of Fire reasserts the importance of the so-called old-fashioned virtues of moral courage and personal integrity and, as such, it is a movie that, with the help of Vangelis Papathanassiou’s wonderfully stirring music, lifts the spirits to a new high. The actors seem to have been born to play their roles.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

A bold, intelligent, romantic film with all the lineaments of a classic, and a score by Vangelis as instantly hummable as the music for Jaws.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

Chariots of Fire is one of the best films of recent years, a memory of a time when men still believed you could win a race if only you wanted to badly enough.


The New York Times by Vincent Canby

Unashamedly rousing, invigorating but very clear-eyed evocat ion of values of the oldfashioned sort that are today more easily satirized than celebrated...It's an exceptional film, about some exceptional people.

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