This is one of my all-time FAVORITE movies! Excellent cast, settings, story, music – it’s the kind of movie I watch again and again and again and never cease to be inspired. As a ‘2-miler’ in high school track, I found the runners’ struggles and achievements to be extra motivational, but they are just as inspiring applied to the ‘race’ of life, faith and our daily challenges.
This movie beautifully documents the stories of two athletes – Scottsman Eric Liddell and Cambridge student Harold Abrahams – who ran for Great Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Played by Ian Charleson, Liddell is the China-born son of missionaries who runs as an extension of his faith. When his faith is challenged by running a 100-meter qualifying heat on Sunday, he stands fast. Abrahams, played by Ben Cross, struggles with his Jewish heritage, using his track wins as a way to combat prejudice and ‘run them all off their feet.’
There’s a love story (“I’ve never seen anyone so smitten”), politics (“go cap in hand to the Frogs? Unthinkable…”), protocols (“you may wish to show off your new finery…”), friendships (Aubrey & Harold…), the pursuit of excellence (“I run to win!”), faith (“God made me fast…and when I run, I feel His pleasure”), LOTS of running, and an incredibly beautiful musical soundtrack by Vangelis…
This movie won a pile of Oscars in 1981, including Best Picture. If you have not seen this– it’s amazing.
If you are interested to learn more of Eric Liddell, he died during WWII in a Japanese internment camp while serving as a missionary to China. There’s an excellent biography by David McCasland entitled Eric Liddell: Pure Gold. During the Olympics in China a few years ago, NBC spotlighted Liddell as he is the only non-Chinese athletes to have a monument in his honor.