This is the story of two men who run to prove something to the world . They will sacrifice anything to achieve their goals , except their honor . Two young men fighting for their objectives , one a determined Jew Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) and the other a devout Christian (Ian Charleson) . In a warmup 100 meter race, Scottish Eric defeats Harold, who hires a pro coacher (Ian Holm) to prepare him . After that , both compete in the 1924 Olympics where their courage and determination to be tested . Eric Liddell , whose qualifying heat is scheduled for a Sunday, denies to run despite pressure from the Olympic committee formed by high authorities (Nigel Davenport , Patrick Magee , David Yelland as Prince of Wales) . Eric and Harold win their respective races and go on to achieve fame as missionary and businessman/athletic advocate, respectively . In fact , during the Japanese occupation of China, Eric as a missionary was taken into the Japanese Weihsien internment Camp, where he was to die from a brain tumour just before the camp was liberated.
This is is a sensitive as well as riveting story, being told in flashback , dealing with two young British sprinters , competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics , both of them compellingly performed by Ben Cross and the early deceased Ian Charleson . About six years after the film's release, Trinity College reenacted the quad dash with British Olympic athletes Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe taking part.
This marvelous film has an all-star-cast such as Ben Cross ,Ian Charleson , Nigel Havers , Ian Holm , Cheryl Campbell and Alice Krige . Great secondary cast formed by prestigious British players and with a number of well known USA and UK performers for the tiny cameo roles such as John Gielgud ,Nigel Davenport , Lindsay Anderson , Patrick Magee , Peter Egan , Richard Griffiths and uncredited Kenneth Branagh as Cambridge student , Stephen Fry and first cinema film of Nicholas Farrell . Brad Davis and Dennis Christopher appeared as a favor to producer David Puttnam, waiving their fees, in order to attract finance from backers who wanted "marquee names" . Besides the lead actors, most of the white-clad runners training on West Sands in St. Andrews during the title sequence are St. Andrews golf caddies .
Colorful and evocative cinematography by David Watkin filmed on location in Edinburgh, Scotland, Liverpool , Cambridge University , Eton College, Eton, Berkshire, England . When the athletes are running off the beach , in reality it results to be West Sands at St Andrews in Scotland , they run towards a large red building clearly marked as a hotel ; this is in fact Hamilton hall of residence, a student accommodation hall belonging to the University .
Lavishly and luxuriously produced by great producer David Puttnam , he was looking for a story in the mold of A man for eternity (1966), regarding someone who follows their conscience ; he felt sports provided clear situations in this sense, and happened upon the story by accident while thumbing through an Olympic reference book in a rented house in Los Angeles , then the screenwriter Colin Welland took out advertisements in London newspapers seeking memories of the 1924 Olympics.
Film debut by filmmaker Hugh Hudson , he originally wanted Vangelis' 1977 tune "L'Enfant", from his 1979 'Opera Sauvage' album, to be the title theme of the film, and the beach running sequence was actually filmed with "L'Enfant" playing in the background for the runners to listen and pace to. Vangelis, however, finally convinced Hudson he could create a new and better piece for the film's main theme - and when he played the new and now-familiar "Chariots of Fire" theme for Hudson, it was agreed the new tune was unquestionably better. But the "L'Enfant" tune still made it into the film : When the athletes reach Paris and enter the stadium, a brass band marches through the field, and first plays a modified, acoustic performance of "L'Enfant" . Vangelis's electronic "L'Enfant" track eventually was used prominently in the film The years of living dangerously (1982). The picture deservedly won Academy Awards for Colin Welland's screenplay , Vangelis' magnificent soundtrack , Mila Canonero's costumes and Best picture .