Friday, May 20, 2011

Chariots of Fire (1983)

Chariots of Fire felt very long but its scenes were gorgeous. The director, Hugh Hudson, really took advantage of his surroundings in the United Kingdom and from the courtyard of the college to the training sequences in Scotland and Ireland. Every shot could be a painting, aside from the men running through it. I like the idea of two minorities in England competing for their countries glory in the Olympics.

One man, a Jew called Aubrey Montague (played by Nicholas Farell), tries to overcome the stigma attached to his religion, behaving like an English playboy by eating out and dating the prettiest actress. His friend, Henrey Lidell (played by Ian Charleson) is a pillar of Christian strength and believes he runs for god as does most of Scotland.

I think the most surreal part of this film was the Olympics. The only visible countries were the United States, France and Britain in both the opening events and the races. They also played the star spangled banner when the races were won despite the nationality of the winner and the games being held in Paris.

There were actually a few other surreal moments in the movie. Often runners in the background who were losing the race would be smiling. These men trained just as hard to be at the Olympics, shouldn’t they take the moment more seriously. It’s probably very hard to run as fast as you can while grinning and thrusting ones chest out like a bird to try and hit the end line. The dialogue also felt a bit planned, like we got all the information about the actress and the Jews background and struggles in a four minute dinner conversation. The lines feel rehearsed and almost to perfect.

(Montague thrusting his chest in the final race)

The movie is timeless in its attention to detail, historical accuracy for the period (not so much the story but it’s a sports movie so I’m not as picky), and cinematography, but its dialogue and acting do get rather draggy around the middle, both the opening and climax are wonderful though, it is only the attempts at building drama through time that fall short

Iconic opening sequence:

1 comment:

Vladigogo said...

Oh that soundtrack by Vangelis. It was everywhere. It actually made me not want to go see the film. I eventually saw it a few years later.