Chariots of Fire (1981)
Genre: Sport Drama (UK)
Starring: Ian Charleson (Ghandi), Ben Cross (First Knight; Exorcist: The Beginning)
Directed By: Hugh Hudson
Overview: Once upon a time (1924) there were some runners (a Jew and a devout Christian) who went to the same English school (Cambridge) and they raced in the Olympics (in slow motion) to inspirational new wave music.
Acting: This huge movie and then this director goes and makes nothing I've ever heard of since. His career didn't go directorial, that's for sure, and for as much as the actors did well and were all inspirational in their speeches, when you have high-class young men chewing a pen nub pensively while writing a letter to their Mum that is being narrated in their head, you tend to want a bit more. It's better than good but I didn't think it genius.
Cinematography: The grand vast halls of Cambridge and the long stretches of road with well manicured groves of trees along it, the old Fords and the flapper costumes, the courtyards and opera houses, all beautiful. The training montages very reminiscent of Rocky, the scenes of gorgeous rolling hillsides... I have no idea why with all that I was pretty much bored throughout the whole thing.
Script: Speeches good, motivations good, honest devotion, lots of spirituality... Perhaps the whole 1924 period piece in highborn British accents is what left this lacking for me, but it's well written enough to have helped make this a classic. I just wasn't moved by it myself is all.
Plot: I told my girl that I was watching a movie about a foot race and some Brits competing in the 8th Olympiad, and she said, "that sounds boring". I said, "Come now dear, it's Chariots of Fire. You know it!" I hummed the tune that everyone knows from it. She looked at me like I was crazy. I sat there, alone, crying because she was right. Booooorinnnnng. I don't care if you won't run on Sunday cause you love Jesus. I really, really don't. It seems like a cop out to have the two rivals end up not actually racing against each other, even if it IS a true story. I also like the love interest for the simple sake of LCDF. Nice time-adding touch.
Mood: Music by sweet, sweet Vangelis. The only good part about the soundtrack is that it made me reminisce on Blade Runner. Nothing kicks a movie set in 1920 in the teeth like some new-wave syth playing in the background. Why was this movie so famous?! For a film about two people running like the wind, it seemed really damned slow. Also, they're British.
Overall Rating: 66% (Uh, I Smell Burning)
Aftertaste: For as much as I tried, I just could not get into this movie. For years I've been looking at the box at the video store, knowing that I would eventually get around to seeing it and that it would be this great inspirational tale of man overcoming adversity or himself or whatever, and it turned out to be a chore. I should have been cleaning my bathroom, cause that would have improved my quality of life far more than this did. Another garage sale purchase well worth the buck, cause I'm glad I didn't rent it.