Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #58

58. Chariots of Fire (1981)

One of the most memorable film scores in history was by Vangelis for this movie. His syntesized composition gives the intensity of the races run in the film. This movie tells the story of the British runners who made their way to the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Specifically, the story focuses on two of the athletes. One is Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross), an English Jew who, despite discrimination, runs faster than anyone at Cambridge College. And the other is Eric Liddell (played by Ian Charleson), a Scottish Christian missionary who feels running is what God meant him to do. Both athletes stay true to their convictions, even though they come up against opposition from those in power. It is an inspiring and powerful story beautifully directed by Hugh Hudson. The slow-motion pace of the Olympic races (combined with the music) are so moving that the audience roots for the British runners to beat the favored American team. The ensemble cast is quite good especially Ian Holm as Harold's coach, John Gielgud as the snobbish Dean of Cambridge, Patrick Magee as the Lord of the British Olympic Committee and Alice Krige as Harold's actress-girlfriend. The movie was produced by David Putnam (who would later produce The Killing Fields and #73: The Mission) and the executive producer was Dodi Fayed (who was killed in the car crash with Princess Diana in 1997). The film has been considered and hailed as one of the best British films ever and went on to win a handful of Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Next Post: #57

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