Chariots of Fire

Synopsis: It's the post-WWI era. Britons Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell are both naturally gifted fast sprinters, but approach running and how it fits into their respective lives differently. The son of a Lithuanian-Jew, Harold, who lives a somewhat privileged life as a student at Cambridge, uses being the fastest to overcome what he sees as the obstacles he faces in life as a Jew despite that privilege. In his words to paraphrase an old adage, he is often invited to the trough, but isn't allowed to drink. His running prowess does earn him the respect of his classmates, especially his running teammates, and to some extent the school administration, if only he maintains what they consider proper gentlemanly decorum, which isn't always the case in their minds. Born in China the son of Christian missionaries, Eric, a Scot, is a devout member of the Church of Scotland who eventually wants to return to that missionary work. He sees running as a win-win in that the notoriety of being fast gives him
Director(s): Hugh Hudson
Production: 20th Century Fox
  Won 4 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 19 nominations.
 
IMDB:
7.2
Metacritic:
78
Rotten Tomatoes:
83%
PG
Year:
1981
125 min
5,685 Views


MAN:

"Let us praise famous men...

...and our fathers that begat us."

All these men were honored

in their generations...

...and were a glory in their days.

We are here today to give thanks...

...for the life of Harold Abrahams...

...to honor the legend.

Now there are just two of us.

Young Aubrey Montague...

...and myself...

...who can close our eyes...

...and remember those few young men...

...with hope in our hearts...

...and wings on our heels.

[DOG BARKING]

[HORN HONKS]

AUBREY [IN VOICEOVER]:

Carlton Hotel, Broadstairs, Kent.

June 28, 1924.

Dear Mom, I'm most awfully sorry about

your cold and the general dreariness.

We're also having quite bad

weather here, too.

Thanks for your letters.

I'm sorry you and Pa are disappointed...

...that I should be letting the Olympic

Games interfere with my shorthand.

But if you were my age, with a chance

to win the championship in Paris...

...you'd be just as big a fool as I am.

By the way, it's awfully kind of Pa

to finance me here, in spite of my idiocy.

His marvelous esprit de corps.

Most of the chaps have managed to get down.

- Cricket, Montague, in the ballroom.

Splendid. - Now. Come on.

MAN:

No ball!

HAROLD:

Come on, Aubrey, the old leg break.

- How's that?

MAN:
Not out.

What do you mean?

You could hear it in Bournemouth.

- Come on, Liddell, my innings.

- I didn't touch it.

Must've been the crack of my wrist.

HAROLD:
I saw the bloody thing bend. Andy!

- No tickle for me, I'm afraid, old chap.

He's out, I tell you. You're all deaf.

Deaf and bloody blind.

Aubrey, I ask you, for God's sake.

It's not fair.

[ALL LAUGHING]

All right.

AUBREY:

Harold's here, as intense as ever.

Just as he was

on our very first day at Cambridge.

I remember we shared a taxi together.

I'll take these.

- See you inside, Aubrey.

- Right.

- Name, please.

- We're new.

Yes, I can see that, laddie.

What's your name?

Abrahams, H.M.

Top of the list. Repton. That the one?

That's it. Left a year ago.

Oh, been doing your bit,

have you? France?

- No. Joined too late.

ROGERS:
Bad luck, lad.

Many a dead man would've

liked a share, bad luck or not.

RADCLIFFE:

You're right there, sir.

Welcome to Caius.

Sign here.

Thank you.

It's across the courtyard,

top right-hand corner...

- ...up the stairs.

- Thanks.

By the way, what are your names?

Rogers, Head Porter,

and this is Mr. Radcliffe, my assistant.

Well, Mr. Rogers, Radcliffe...

...I ceased to be called laddie

when I took up the king's commission.

- Is that clear?

- Yes, Mr. Abrahams. Quite clear.

Thank you.

I'd be obliged if you'd remember it.

- See you later.

- Fine.

ROGERS:

What's your friend studying, then, son?

Barrack-room law?

AUBREY:
I've no idea.

- Mm.

One thing's certain.

Name like Abrahams, he won't

be in the Chapel Choir, now, will he?

- Name?

- Montague.

- What?

- Montague.

[CHOIR SINGING IN LATIN]

I take the War List and I run down it.

Name after name which I cannot read...

...and which we who are older than you...

...cannot hear without emotion.

Names which will be only names to you,

the new college...

...but which to us summon up

face after face...

...full of honesty and goodness...

...zeal and vigor...

...and intellectual promise.

The flower of a generation,

the glory of England.

And they died for England

and all that England stands for.

And now, by tragic necessity,

their dreams have become yours.

Let me exhort you: Examine yourselves.

Let each of you discover

where your true chance of greatness lies.

For their sakes...

...for the sake of your college

and your country, seize this chance.

Rejoice in it.

And let no power or persuasion

deter you in your task.

AUBREY:

Thursday, October the 10th, 1919.

My first day at Cambridge was rounded off

by the Freshmen's Dinner...

...a sumptuous affair.

The master gave us a moving speech,

and I am now eagerly awaiting...

...the start of term proper.

Rugby Club, Golfing Society,

Tennis, Squash Club...

...Flora and Fauna, Philately. Is that all?

- You're idle, man. Idle.

- Can't join everything.

- I've got to work sometime.

- Birdwatching? You can take a book.

How can I watch if I'm reading?

Follow in the footsteps of W.G.

Any Yorkshire men here?

- You are, Stallard.

- I can't bat for toffee.

[MEN SINGING

"THE SOLDIERS OF OUR QUEEN"]

Upon the battle scene

They fight the foe together

There ev'ry mother's son

Prepared to fight and fall is

The enemy of one

The enemy of all is

The enemy of one

The enemy of all is

HAROLD:
Abraham, H.M.

- Can't manage tenor, can you?

- Desperately short of tenors.

HAROLD:
Afraid not, except under torture.

How about you, Aubrey? Sing, do you?

AUBREY:
School choir, that's all.

HAROLD:
You, Stallard?

STALLARD:
Not on your life. They kicked

me out of Ring a Ring of Roses.

Sorry about that. We can't all be gifted.

[SINGING]

If everybody's somebody

Then no one's anybody

- Put my friend here down as well.

AUBREY:
Steady on.

MAN 1:
Excellent.

MAN 2:
Splendid.

- Rehearsals start on Monday, Iolanthe.

- But I was a boy alto.

- Perfect. You can be Queen of the Fairies.

MAN 3:
Brought us to the brink!

Where were you

when your country needed you?

We have a duty, a solemn duty to those

countless millions of lives needlessly...

MEN [SINGING]:

Afar away they dream of home

Glad to have you. Good middle-distance

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Colin Welland

Colin Welland, born Colin Edward Williams, was a British actor and screenwriter. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his script for Chariots of Fire. more…

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