They then saw Scottish stage actor Ian Charleson performing the role of Pierre in the Royal Shakespeare Company 's production of Piaf , and knew immediately they had found their man. Unbeknownst to them, Charleson had heard about the film from his father, and desperately wanted to play the part, feeling it would "fit like a kid glove". In addition to having a natural pugnaciousness, he had the desired ability to sing and play the piano.
All of the actors portraying runners underwent a gruelling three-month training intensive with renowned running coach Tom McNab. This training and isolation of the actors also created a strong bond and sense of camaraderie among them.
A plaque now commemorates the filming. All of the Cambridge scenes were actually filmed at Hugh Hudson's alma mater Eton College , because Cambridge refused filming rights, fearing depictions of anti-Semitism. The Cambridge administration greatly regretted the decision after the film's enormous success. The film was slightly altered for the U.
A brief scene depicting a pre-Olympics cricket game between Abrahams, Liddell, Montague, and the rest of the British track team appears shortly after the beginning of the original film. For the American audience, this brief scene was deleted. In the U. Although the film is a period piece, set in the s, the Academy Award -winning original soundtrack composed by Vangelis uses a modern s electronic sound, with a strong use of synthesizer and piano among other instruments. This was a bold and significant departure from earlier period films, which employed sweeping orchestral instrumentals.
The title theme of the film has become iconic, and has been used in subsequent films and television shows during slow-motion segments. Vangelis, a Greek-born electronic composer who moved to Paris in the late s, had been living in London since It was a risky idea but we went with it rather than have a period symphonic score.
Hudson originally wanted Vangelis's tune "L'Enfant",  from his Opera Sauvage album, to be the title theme of the film, and the beach running sequence was actually filmed with "L'Enfant" playing on loudspeakers for the runners to pace to. Vangelis finally convinced Hudson he could create a new and better piece for the film's main theme — and when he played the now-iconic "Chariots of Fire" theme for Hudson, it was agreed the new tune was unquestionably better.
Some pieces of Vangelis's music in the film did not end up on the film's soundtrack album. One of them is the background music to the race Eric Liddell runs in the Scottish highlands.
Various versions are also included on Vangelis's compilation albums Themes , Portraits , and Odyssey: The Definitive Collection , though none of these include the version used in the film. Five lively Gilbert and Sullivan tunes also appear in the soundtrack, and serve as jaunty period music which counterpoints Vangelis's modern electronic score. These are: "He is an Englishman" from H. The film also incorporates a major traditional work: " Jerusalem ", sung by a British choir at the funeral of Harold Abrahams.
The words, written by William Blake in —08, were set to music by Parry in as a celebration of England. This hymn has been described as "England's unofficial national anthem",  concludes the film and inspired its title.
Since its release, Chariots of Fire has received generally positive reviews from critics. The site's consensus reads: "Decidedly slower and less limber than the Olympic runners at the center of its story, the film nevertheless manages to make effectively stirring use of its spiritual and patriotic themes.
For its re-release, Kate Muir of The Times gave the film five stars, writing: "In a time when drug tests and synthetic fibres have replaced gumption and moral fibre, the tale of two runners competing against each other in the Olympics has a simple, undiminished power.
From the opening scene of pale young men racing barefoot along the beach, full of hope and elation, backed by Vangelis's now famous anthem, the film is utterly compelling. Chariots of Fire was very successful at the 54th Academy Awards , winning four of seven nominations. American Film Institute recognition. Chariots of Fire is a film about achieving victory through self sacrifice and moral courage. While the producers' intent was to make a cinematic work that was historically authentic, the film was not intended to be historically accurate.
Numerous liberties were taken with the actual historical chronology, the inclusion and exclusion of notable people, and the creation of fictional scenes for dramatic purpose, plot pacing and exposition. Abrahams and Stallard were in fact students there and competed in the Olympics.
Montague also competed in the Olympics as depicted, but he attended Oxford, not Cambridge. The character of Lindsay was based partially on Lord Burghley , a significant figure in the history of British athletics. Although Burghley did attend Cambridge, he was not a contemporary of Harold Abrahams, as Abrahams was an undergraduate from to and Burghley was at Cambridge from to One scene in the film depicts the Burghley-based "Lindsay" as practising hurdles on his estate with full champagne glasses placed on each hurdle — this was something the wealthy Burghley did, although he used matchboxes instead of champagne glasses.
Another scene in the film recreates the Great Court Run , in which the runners attempt to run around the perimeter of the Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge in the time it takes the clock to strike 12 at midday. The film shows Abrahams performing the feat for the first time in history.
In fact, Abrahams never attempted this race, and at the time of filming the only person on record known to have succeeded was Lord Burghley , in In Chariots of Fire , Lindsay, who is based on Lord Burghley, runs the Great Court Run with Abrahams in order to spur him on, and crosses the finish line just a moment too late.
In the film, Eric Liddell is tripped up by a Frenchman in the metre event of a Scotland—France international athletic meeting. He recovers, makes up a metre deficit, and wins. This was based on fact; the actual race was the yards at a Triangular Contest meet between Scotland, England, and Ireland at Stoke-on-Trent in England in July His achievement was remarkable as he had already won the and yard events that day.
Abrahams and Liddell did race against each other once, but not quite as depicted in the film, which shows Liddell winning the final of the yards against a shattered Abrahams at the AAA Championship at Stamford Bridge.
In fact, they raced only in a heat of the yards, which Liddell won, five yards ahead of Abrahams, who did not progress to the final. In the yards, Abrahams was eliminated in the heats and never raced against Liddell, who won the finals of both races the next day. Liddell's sister was several years younger than she was portrayed in the film. Her disapproval of Liddell's track career was creative licence; she actually fully supported his sporting work.
Jenny Liddell Somerville cooperated fully with the making of the film and has a brief cameo in the Paris Church of Scotland during Liddell's sermon. At the memorial service for Harold Abrahams, which opens the film, Lord Lindsay mentions that he and Aubrey Montague are the only members of the Olympic team still alive.
However, Montague died in , 30 years before Abrahams' death. In the film, the m bronze medallist is a character called "Tom Watson"; the real medallist was Arthur Porritt of New Zealand, who refused permission for his name to be used in the film, allegedly out of modesty, and his wish was accepted by the film's producers, even though his permission was not necessary. With the exception of Porritt, all the runners in the m final are identified correctly when they line up for inspection by the Prince of Wales.
Jackson Scholz is depicted as handing Liddell an inspirational Bible-quotation message before the metres final: "It says in the Old Book, 'He that honors me, I will honor. The events surrounding Liddell's refusal to race on a Sunday are fictional. In the film, he does not learn that the metre heat is to be held on the Christian Sabbath until he is boarding the boat to Paris.
In fact, the schedule was made public several months in advance; Liddell did however face immense pressure to run on that Sunday and to compete in the metres, getting called before a grilling by the British Olympic Committee, the Prince of Wales, and other grandees ,  and his refusal to run made headlines around the world. The decision to change races was, even so, made well before embarking to Paris, and Liddell spent the intervening months training for the metres, an event in which he had previously excelled.
It is true, nonetheless, that Liddell's success in the Olympic m was largely unexpected. The film depicts Lindsay, having already won a medal in the metre hurdles, giving up his place in the metre race for Liddell.
In fact Burghley , on whom Lindsay is loosely based, was eliminated in the heats of the hurdles he would go on to win a gold medal in the hurdles at the Olympics , and was not entered for the metres. The film reverses the order of Abrahams' m and m races at the Olympics. In reality, after winning the metres race, Abrahams ran the metres but finished last, Jackson Scholz taking the gold medal. In the film, before his triumph in the m, Abrahams is shown losing the m and being scolded by Mussabini.
And during the following scene in which Abrahams speaks with his friend Montague while receiving a massage from Mussabini, there is a French newspaper clipping showing Scholz and Charley Paddock with a headline which states that the metres was a triumph for the United States. In the same conversation, Abrahams laments getting "beaten out of sight" in the The film thus has Abrahams overcoming the disappointment of losing the by going on to win the , a reversal of the real order.
Eric Liddell actually also ran in the m race, and finished third, behind Paddock and Scholz. This was the only time in reality that Liddell and Abrahams competed in the same race.
Billboard Adult Contemporary  1 U. Retrieved 29 July Papathanasiou  E. High Court, Chancery Division. Retrieved 27 November Billboard Biz. Retrieved 24 August Sydney: Australian Chart Book. Archived from the original on 19 October Retrieved 4 August Retrieved 5 September Archived from the original on 3 June Retrieved 3 July Library and Archives Canada.
Government of Canada. Archived from the original on 11 August Archived from the original on 11 July BBC News. Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. Sports Canada. Retrieved 3 August International Business Times. Film score , theme Play Race. Liddell is not expected to do well at the metre distance, but he nonetheless goes on to take gold. After the team returns home, Abrahams reunites with Sybil, and Liddell takes up missionary work in China.
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