Chariots of Fire is the rare successful film that portrays Christian values yet is not inherently made for a Christian audience, such as the Kendrick Brothers films or for KING & COUNTRY’S Priceless.
The 1981 film was nominated for seven Oscars and won four for Best Picture, Best Writing, screenplay written directly for the screen, Best Costume Design and Best Music, Original Score.
Overall, the film is hailed as one of the best British films ever made. Its music is its most memorable attribute, by Vangelis, who won the Academy Award, and it is one of the most recognizable scores in cinema history.
Chariots of Fire tells the true story of two opposite men competing in the 1924 Paris Olympics — Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian who refuses to run on a Sunday, and Harold Abrahams, a fiercely competitive English Jew trying to overcome racial prejudice.
Liddell’s story, especially, is the most engaging and emotionally uplifting because of his dedication to do what he believes is right. The fact that it is a true story makes it even more powerful. Not only is Liddell’s testimony impactful, but it is also inspiring to see how he felt closer to God when he was running because he realized that God gave him the gift to run fast.
The film does a stellar job of telling a Christian story without it being overbearing. The viewer does not have to go in thinking that he or she is soon to watch a Christian-based film. Rather, the viewer experiences a film that is about sports, with the intention of telling a true story — therefore, a story that seems real.
Compared to a story such as another Christian sports film such as Facing the Giants, it far excels in quality. Noted, Facing the Giants, was not intended to win big awards. Rather, it was focused on a specific audience, mainly even so specific as a church-youth-group-type audience. Not to say that I personally didn’t enjoy Facing the Giants; in fact, I quite enjoy Facing the Giants each time I watch it — but not for its cinematic quality.
Last week’s film, Priceless is in-between Facing the Giants and Chariots of Fire in film quality. Priceless exceeds the typical Christian film in its cinematography, and even its story. Generally, most Christian-message-focused films tend to feel unrealistic and at times a bit sappy. They do always have a good message to share, but the great thing about Chariots of Fire is that it shares a good message while at the same time providing a good story (a true story, making it seem even more real, because it is) and excellent acting.
Priceless moves the Christian film genre in the right direction, as its story and cinematography is an improvement for the genre, and its message is very pertinent and important in today’s society. Of course, the acting in Priceless is not as outstanding as Ian Charleson and Ben Cross’ performances as Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams, respectively, but it is not bad, and it is definitely not distracting.
Chariots of Fire is a must-see for sports-lovers and classic movie-lovers. While it may be a bit slow for younger viewers, it can captivate an older viewer with its inspiring true story.