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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chariots of Fire: Inspiring Story of Commitment, Faith and Glory

Chariots of Fire (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Many great sports movies are about self-sacrifice for the sake of selfish goals. Rocky Balboa (Rocky Balboa: Movie About a Boxer, Could Have Been a Runner (review)) fought to prove something. Lou Gehrig wanted to persevere. Rudy Ruettiger just wanted to play for Notre Dame. They have obstacles, and by sheer will, overcome them.

Not Eric Liddell. Liddell wanted to glorify God. When he ran, he felt closer to God. When it came to winning, he wanted it to point toward God, not himself.

When questioned about his commitment as a Christian, and to his intention to return as a missionary to China, he replied, "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." "Chariots of Fire" shows him as a man who never compromised, and followed through as an athlete who happened to be a Christian.

The movie contrasts Liddell against the various concerns of others. Some ran for country, others ran for their king. Some ran for the good name of their school. Others ran so that they themselves would receive honor.

Parallel to Liddell's Olympic chase is the story of Harold Abrahams, another English runner who faces quiet prejudice as a Jew from a blue color background. Abrahams worked as hard as Liddell, but his commitment was for himself. This distinction flowed in and out of various scenes.

In a time when devotion to God is not considered fashionable, Liddell refused to change his position. His faith is not made an issue -- it is nice to see a movie that does not rest in snarkish cynicism, but tolerates Liddell's faith without whitewashing it.

Aspects of the movie are fictionalized, but the essence is accurate. The filming is beautiful, and the acting solid. The music is well known, and strong throughout.

The title refers to a line in William Blake's poem, "And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time," which, itself refers to Elijah's chariot as mentioned in 2 Kings 2:11.

I fully recommend "Chariots of Fire."

Anthony Trendl

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