Inspirational sporting movie a highlight for Film Club

August 28, 2015

August’s Film Club offering, to be screened at the Roxy this Sunday at 4pm, is the 1981 Academy Award winning Best Picture “Chariots of Fire”- an inspiring look at how the strength of the human spirit can overcome the most amazing challenges.

“Chariots of Fire” uses the backdrop of the 1924 Paris Olympic Games to tell the story of how two very different athletes, both driven by strong personal circumstances, were able to triumph on the running track. The film is based on the true story of Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice.

The origins of this wonderful film classic are most interesting. Producer David Puttnam was searching for a story about someone who followed their conscience to achieve great things, along the lines of “A Man for all Seasons”, and felt that sport would provide the perfect medium for this. He discovered Eric Liddell’s story by accident in 1977 when he happened upon a reference book on the Olympics while housebound with the flu in a rented house in Los Angeles. He then commissioned screenwriter Colin Welland to do the background research, and Welland unearthed not only the story of Eric Liddell, but also Har old Abrahams. The rest is history, and led to the making of one of the great sporting films of all time.

“Chariots of Fire” was immediately a sensation when released in 1981.The film, shot on a 3 million pounds budget, went on to recoup more than 60 million at the box office, won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score (the musical theme throughout the film is very recognizable), and also won many other international awards for Best Picture of the Year. The film was particularly well cast – Ben Cross as Abrahams , Ian Charleson as Liddell and with a supporting list of outstanding actors like Brad Davis (“Midnight Express”), Dennis Christopher (“Breaking Away”) and Ian Holm , Nigel Davenport , Nigel Havers and Sir John Gielgud.

To direct the film, Puttnam chose Hugh Hudson – a multi-award winning advertising and documentary filmmaker who had never directed a feature film. What a debut – an Academy Award nomination for Best Director with your first motion picture! Among his initiatives was to have all actors portraying runners take part in an intensive three month training camp with a leading running coach. This training and isolation created a strong bond and sense of camaraderie among them.

“Chariots of Fire” runs for 124 minutes, and is rated G for the whole family.
Membership of the Film Club is always a great option for all who love movies.
For only $24 there are still 5 films remaining for the year – as well as Sunday’s film, “Monsieur Lazhar”, “Topkapi”, “The Artist” and the December “President’s Pick” remain for 2015. Joining is simple – see Jen Mead at the Bingara Information Centre, or just rock up at the door at 4pm on Sunday.

See you at the movies!