Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1981. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Allied Stars Ltd., Enigma Productions. Screenplay by Colin Welland. Cinematography by David Watkin. Produced by David Puttnam. Music by Vangelis. Production Design by Jonathan Amberston, Len Huntingford, Anna Ridley, Andrew Sanders. Costume Design by Milena Canonero. Film Editing by Terry Rawlings. Academy Awards 1981. Cannes Film Festival 1981. Golden Globe Awards 1981. New York Film Critics Awards 1981.
Inspirational, touching tale of underdog glory that managed to win Oscar’s heart (in a surprise victory at the 1981 Academy Awards) and enchant audiences for years (the score is still one of the most recognized instrumental movie themes ever heard). Consider that it also features a lead character who runs in a race for the glory of the Lord and you see why it’s been a favourite at church social events for years. Ian Charleson is excellent as a Scottish missionary who pursues his talent for racing in his belief that his running is for God. Ben Cross is equally compelling as a Cambridge student of Jewish background who competes to beat the feelings of social inequality and prejudice that come with his heritage and religion. Both men, as well as colleagues of the school Cross attends, make up the British running team for the 1924 Olympics in Paris, where their heart, dedication and speed will be put to the test for the world to see. Incredibly enjoyable film, a bit weak on the conflict angle but still beautifully shot and emotionally effective, with pristine acting and top-flight direction by newcomer Hugh Hudson.