If you haven’t caught Olympic fever yet, you can swiftly infect yourself by grabbing some popcorn and settling in for a screening of the 1981 Oscar-winning Best Picture film, Chariots of Fire.
Century Fox and the British Film Institute are re-releasing the film on more
than 100 screens across the UK about the
same time as its newly released on Blu-ray there and
in North America. Visitors to London can also watch a theatrical version at the Gielgud
Theatre in the West End through October (though performances are selling
out). But it’s been three decades since crowds in the UK have been able to
watch the film in theatres, and the timing has
never been better.
If the famous slo-mo opening of the
runners on the beach (filmed in St Andrews in Scotland, by the way) or the synthesised
theme doesn’t swell your chest with Olympic pride and yearning,
perhaps the story will. Based on the true tale of Eric Liddell and Harold
Abrahams, two runners racing for Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, the
film pits these teammates as rivals. Yet the movie is more than a sports story
about winning and losing. Abrahams is an English Jew who is motivated to win in
order to counter anti-Semitic criticisms of athletic inferiority as much as to feed
his own ego. Liddell is a Scottish Christian who runs in ecstasy for the glory
of God. The beautiful, funny and riveting film is about honour, integrity and
ambition -- the drama that underlies all the Games and makes the Olympics (and
the film) worth watching again and again.
you’re in London to see the Olympics, you shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to
see another rare event -- the screening
of the greatest movie ever made about the Games.