Making the Grades
I live with a family of runners. At least annually they face off to see who is the fastest among them. So it's no surprise that around our house, the moving musical score from Chariots Of Fire inspires slow motion sprinting.
Set in post World War I, this film is based on the true-life story of two elite British athletes pursuing Olympic gold in 1924. Dark-haired and handsome, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), the son of a wealthy Jewish immigrant, attends Cambridge University while adding to his growing list of achievements on the track. Defeat is unknown to this young man until he challenges Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a young Christian missionary with an awkward gait and propensity for winning races. Crushed by the loss, Abrahams struggles to come to grips with the blow and find new purpose for his running. Engaging the expertise of professional trainer Sam Mussibini (Ian Holm), Abrahams refines his stride by rehearsing repeatedly the intricacies of his athletic art.
Eric Liddell, the renowned "Flying Scotsman," preaches on Sunday and dashes through the green rolling hills of his Scottish homeland during the week. Believing that God made him fast for a purpose, Liddell races to bring honor and glory to his Maker. His challenge lies in balancing the demands of his talent with the obligations of his religious service.
Chosen to represent Great Britain during the 13th Olympiad, Abrahams and Liddell are en route to France with their teammates when Liddell discovers that the heats for his100-meter race will be held on Sunday, leaving him grappling between achieving his Olympic dreams and honoring the Sabbath day.
While the use of alcohol and cigarettes are amply depicted in this movie, this story focuses on the internal struggles of gifted athletes and the mental and physical preparations that precede their feats. Unfolding at a gentle pace, this Oscar winning production filled with the music of Vangelis, and featuring excerpts of Gilbert and Sullivan, is worth a weekend run to the video store.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Chariots Of Fire.
Eric Liddell must choose between trying for his Olympic dream or following his conviction to honor the Sabbath day. After the race is over and everyone goes home, do you think it is easier to live with missing an opportunity to fulfill a dream or turning your back on your convictions?
Abrahams feels that his Olympic race is 10 seconds to justify his existence. Although competing at this level is an admirable achievement, does Abrahams puts too much emphasis on that one moment? Compared to a whole lifetime, how important is one event?