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"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."—Eric Liddell
Chariots of Fire is based on the two Real Life athletes Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, who competed for Britain in the 1924 olympics. The film does have a large dash of Hollywood History, but was still impressive enough to win the best picture Oscar.
The film is largely notable today for its score, by Vangelis, who was famous for making incredible music with synthesizers, despite the hatred in the music industry for those devices.
- Artistic License: Several scenes were altered from Real Life to help the drama.
- Abrahams finished last in the 200 meters after winning gold in the 100. This was changed to before in the movie to make that win more of a triumph.
- Eric knew for months a heat for the 100 meters was on a Sunday, and had long since arranged to run the 400 instead. This just wouldn't be that interesting to play out on film.
- Sam Mussabini was allowed to train several runners for the Olympics.
- Sybil was never the lead singer for an opera company.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: A cricket match at the beginning was changed in the US release to a scene where Harold and Aubrey see some disfigured World War I veterans at a train stations, and someone swore.
- Badass Preacher: Eric
- Beam Me Up, Scotty: The title score was never played at the triumphant scenes, despite what parodies do.
- The Big Race
- Brilliant but Lazy: Lindsay is implied to be this. He's a very talented athlete, but never shows the same kind of dedication and self-abandonment that Eric and Harold do.
- British Stuffiness: With some of the old men of Cambridge.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Averted. Everything is seemingly set up to climax with Eric and Harold in the same race. But they never race each other.
- Determinator: Harold Abrahams - "I'll take them all on. One by one. And run them off their feet."
- So is Eric: "Don't you believe it--his head's not back yet."
- Heroic Resolve: Eric winning the race after being knocked down.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness : Eric. In his case it is better handled then many for he is also nice, friendly, and makes you think that Good Feels Good.
- Irony: The Prince who urged Eric to put country before God was Edward VIII who later flirted with fascism, and also disdained his royal duties at a time when British Patriotic Fervor was really needed to fight Nazi Germany.
- Notable Original Music: And this is turned into a Memetic Mutation, thanks to its use when someone is running in slow-motion.
- Opposing Sports Team: Averted. The American track team are reasonably decent people.
- Patriotic Fervor: a notably amiable form in which everyone was greeting each other's flags, etc and assuming themselves and everyone else was part of a True Companionship of nations.
- Period Piece
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech : Harold gives this to the Cambridge Masters.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni : Eric is red, Harold blue.
- The Roaring Twenties: Largely averted, even for a British film.
- Serious Business: For different reasons, running is a matter of life and death for the two leads. Lindsay, by contrast, takes it much less seriously.
- Technician Versus Performer: Harold is the technician, Eric the performer.
- Unfortunate Implications: Subverted In-Universe twice. Aubry and Sybil each accidentally seem to step on Abraham's toes about him being Jewish, but he laughs both times, knowing they mean no offense.
- Writer on Board: One of the producers was a socialist, and didn't like that a lord had completed the quad race at Cambridge, so he changed it to Abrahams. This understandably didn't sit well with David Burghley, the real life runner, so he didn't allow his name to be used in the film. The completely original character of Lord Lindsay was written instead.
- The X of Y
- Ye Goode Olde Days : Lots of nostalgia. Practically fuels the show.