Oscars Project: Movie #15

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. SPOILERS BELOW. You've been warned!)

From 1981: Chariots of Fire

Summary: Olympic hopefuls and sometime rivals (not to mention rivals to their own personal demons) train and run for the U.K. in the 1924 games. It's very faintly a framework story, as it opens and ends at the funeral of one of the runners in the late '70s. The screenplay was based on a true story, and the soundtrack--or at least the song from the titles--is recognized, not to mention referenced, by many.

What I liked:

--It's a good story and the main characters are likeable. Harold is driven to prove himself both as a law student and as a Jew in the face of anti-semitism. Eric is torn up over what it really means to serve God and evangelize the faith: Should he put off being a missionary to China and use his talent for running to glorify God, much to the disapproval of his sister who thinks it's just to glorify the country?

--It's a good "sports movie" that doesn't require deep familiarity with the particulars of the sport (as often is the case with other sports like football, baseball, soccer). You've heard of the Olympics? You've seen people run a race before? You're good to go.

--It also had just enough of a love story between Harold and Sybil, an actress with whom he is smitten after seeing her onstage. When he finally works up the courage to ask her to dinner, it's another victory to cheer. It's also very romantic-sigh-worthy when they kiss, as Sybil wears these signature hats with just enough brim to sweep down and cover their faces when they kiss. Which they do, several times. **sigh**

--It was yet another low-budget movie to win "Best Picture." (The writer of Filmsite disagrees with the decision.) Sometimes I hear buzz about movies with huge budgets and how that alone should make it a good movie and/or deserve award nominations, and it's just not true. (I think the example most often held up to illustrate that is Waterworld, maybe?)

--Fabulous scenery. A lot of the movie was set in Cambridge. It's such a cool scene when Harold undertakes the challenge to run around the courtyard before the clock finishes striking noon.

What I didn't like:

--This movie has a bit of a slow start that I would attribute to exposition. It's kind of a necessary evil.

--In spite of the exposition, sometimes I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. Maybe if I had watched it on the big screen the increased amount of detail would have helped. I don't know.

--The distinctive soundtrack by Vangelis is both genius (yes, it did win Best Score) and a bit dated with some seriously overwrought synth moments. It does grate at times.

--Maybe it's just me, or once again the impact of watching on the small screen, but sometimes people look really goofy when they're running, especially in slow motion.

At the end of the day, I enjoyed this film very much. It did show, as Peske and West say, to "all of us weary runners in the marathon of life that. . . the will to win is more important than the skill to win" (p. 74), because in the end the races were just brief moments in time, but the character and relationships they develop last the rest of their lives.

Up next: Out of Africa. I am not exactly looking forward to this one, but I just want to see what all the fuss was about.


Annie Coe said…
Thank you for the review. I can not remember seeing this movie, but I know I did :-). xoxo
Kate P said…
You're welcome, Annie! It's one of those movies that I think was very popular in its time so you're probably right. :)

(If anyone is reading this Sunday or Monday, go over to Annie's blog and check out the sale at her etsy store. I am getting something beautiful.)

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