Chariots of Fire

This 1981 movie is perhaps the best known cinematic depiction of the Olympic Games. Based on actual events, the story follows two British athletes, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, who both manage to win an Olympic gold medal at the 1924 Olympics after overcoming various difficulties. As most historical movies tend to, Chariots of Fire used artistic license to change events and persons, to the annoyance of some (Olympic) historians. The most notable departure from reality concerns one of the film’s pivotal moments, when Liddell, boarding a ship to leave for France, learns he cannot contest his favored 100 metres as the heats are scheduled for a Sunday, and as a devout Christian Liddell never competed on Sundays. While this was indeed the reason Liddell did not compete in the event, he knew this well in advance, rather than just before shipping off to France.

The movie was a critical and financial success, and earned seven Academy Award nominations, of which it won four: Best Picture, Original Music Score, Writing Original Screenplay and Costume Design. The film’s title track was also notable, with the composition of Vangelis (1943-2022) reaching the number one position in the US single charts.