Chariots of Fire

  • PG
  • Hugh Hudson (1981)
  • UK
  • 118 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
5 out of 5

Unfairly dismissed by some as an empty exercise in cheap schmaltz, this has an old-fashioned innocence that celebrates the human spirit with a lot of careful detail. It's a powerful tale about two British athletes - one a contemplative Scottish missionary, the other an anxious Jewish student - aiming for glory in the 1924 Olympics, and it contains a compelling study of their characters and those of their competitors. Their experiences are drawn in thoughtfully by Hugh Hudson's direction and Colin Welland's Oscar-winning script. Indeed, it was Welland who exclaimed at the Oscar ceremony that "the British are coming!". The performances of leads Ian Charleson (as the missionary) and Ben Cross (as the student) prove that, at a time when British cinema had such talent to fall back on, Welland should have been right.

Plot Summary

Sports drama based on a true story, starring Ben Cross, Ian Charleson and Nigel Havers. Among the British athletes aiming for glory in the 1924 Paris Olympics, two in particular come under the spotlight. Scot Eric Liddell runs for his religion, while Jewish Harold Abrahams races against prejudice. Both men are driven to prove themselves, on and off the track.

Cast and crew


Harold Abrahams
Ben Cross
Eric Liddell
Ian Charleson
Lord Andrew Lindsay
Nigel Havers
Aubrey Montague
Nicholas Farrell
Sam Mussabini
Ian Holm
Master of Trinity
John Gielgud
Master of Caius
Lindsay Anderson
Lord Birkenhead
Nigel Davenport
Jennie Liddell
Cheryl Campbell
Sybil Gordon
Alice Krige
Charles Paddock
Dennis Christopher
Jackson Scholz
Brad Davis
Lord Cadogan
Patrick Magee
Duke of Sutherland
Peter Egan
Sandy McGrath
Struan Rodger
Prince of Wales
David Yelland
Head Porter, Caius College
Richard Griffiths
Henry Stallard
Daniel Gerroll
Ruby Wax


Hugh Hudson

Other Information

Theatrical distributor: 
20th Century Fox Film Co. Ltd
Some swearing and brief nudity.
Available on video, DVD and BluRay
Released 13 Jul 2012
Certificate PG