Chariots of Fire (1981)

(On Cable TV, July 2017) It brings me no joy to say it, but: Wow, Chariots of Fire is a dull movie. The opening sequence sets the tone, all slow motion running and Vangelis’s classical theme. Now, I’m not saying that it’s a bad film, but it’s so clearly addressed at another kind of viewer that I’m left pointing out how little appeal it has for the rest of us. What it does well is giving us a glimpse at the psyche of the British immediately following the First World War: The film sombrely begins with reminders of the fallen soldiers and their absence still being felt in British universities. It keeps going with a sober exploration of the role of faith and religion at the time, setting up the dilemmas facing our two running protagonists as they make their way to the 1924 Paris Olympics. Ben Cross and Ian Charleson do good jobs in the lead roles. That’s all well and good (and an early sequence had me reading about the Trinity Great Court Run) but the film itself moves at a snail’s pace, with comparatively low stakes and a subject matter that does quite manage to reach me. Fortunately, Chariots of Fire doesn’t need my critical appreciation, not when it’s an Oscar-winning classic with thirty-five years of acclaim. But I’m surprised at how uninteresting it is, when so many of its contemporaries can be watched with interest even today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *