The iconic sports film, Chariots Of Fire, is being re-released to coincide with an expected surge in enthusiasm for athletics across Britain this summer. When I first saw the title on the Hailsham Pavilion listings, my heart sank - surely Hollywood hadn't tried to remake this classic? Breathe easy, they haven't! Instead, the original footage has been remastered and it is hoped that the strong patriotic message of the film will strike as much of a chord with audiences today as it did thirty years ago.
Written by Colin Welland and directed by Hugh Hudson, the film was nominated for seven Oscars and won four: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design and Best Original Score. Vangelis' electronic theme is now just as famous in its own right and is an almost essential accompaniment to any slow-motion sequence used on television.
Based (fairly loosely, apparently) on a true story, Chariots Of Fire tells of two male athletes, a devout Scottish evangelical Christian, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), and a Cambridge-educated English Jew, Harold Abraham (Ben Cross), who compete against each other in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell is sure that he must win in order to prove his religious faith and Abraham is desperate to win to prove that Jews are not an inferior race and to cement his right to be English.
The two leads were perfectly cast and other notable actors include Ian Holm, Patrick Magee, John Gielgud and Nigel Havers. Also, for the eagle-eyed, I believe a young Stephen Fry can be spotted in the background of one scene but, as I write, I can't remember exactly when.
Hailsham Pavilion, Tue 7th & Thu 9th Aug, 19:45.
Wed 8th Aug, 14:15.