Chariots of Fire (1981)

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The problem with sports movies is that there’s really only two ways the story can go – either they win or lose, and if it ends in a loss, there’d better be a damn good reason for me to be watching a movie about a bunch of losers.

If you don’t care much for running, you might wonder how someone could stretch out a two-hour movie leading up to a ten-second long race and somehow keep it interesting.  If you learn the answer to this question, please let me know, because I feel like I would have happily watched the ten seconds and been done with it.

Okay, I’ll admit it – it’s difficult to sustain interest when the stakes are only as high as whether someone wins a particular arbitrary race.  Nobody’s life is at stake.  Any of the runners could have just as easily won an Olympic gold medal, and they could have made a movie about that person.  That’s why they always do those clips on reality TV shows or competition shows that show somebody’s life story and all the travails they’d encountered before they reached this Extremely Important Point in their life where they could put everything on the line.  And then they faceplant into a pool of dirty water – or have I just been watching too much American Ninja Warrior?

All I knew about this movie was the majestic theme song, which they totally wasted in the first few seconds of the film.  Build up a little anticipation, why don’t you?  What I didn’t realize is that Vangelis also composed plenty of other classical-electronica for the rest of the film, including a crazy synthesizer-heavy training montage (another absolute necessity in any sports movie – not just the training montage, but the 80s synth music).  In other Oscar-winning movie tropes, I can’t help but notice the “old people, possibly at a funeral, looking back on the era of past glory, exchanging some apparently significant-if-innocuous words about said glory which are repeated later in case you missed the Theme).

It’s not worth dragging this out – Chariots of Fire falls into that style of 80s movie that is a little too ponderous, about a topic that should be exciting but doesn’t quite pull it off.  I’ve seen them before in this quest, and I still have enough 80s movies to watch that I know I’ll encounter it again.  Such is the burden I bear.


Theme:  Chariot

First Time Watching?  Yes

Final Verdict:  Run for your life!


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