Hugh Hudson’s ‘Chariots of Fire’, 1981

DW on set of ChariotsDirected by Hugh Hudson
Written by Colin Welland
Cinemtography by David Watkin
Executive Producer: Dodi Fayad

Chariots of Fire is a 1981 British film loosely based on historical events surrounding the British athletic team before and during the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. The story follows Harold Abrahams, a Jew out to overcome prejudice, and Eric Liddell, a devout missionary running for the glory of God.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture.

The title is a reference to the line, “Bring me my chariot of fire,” from the William Blake poem adapted into the hymn Jerusalem. The Blake poem was influenced by several Bible verses, most notably 2nd Kings 2:11 regarding Elijah being taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. The film’s working title was “Running” until Welland saw the scene with the singing of the hymn and decided to change the title.

Chariots of Fire

The famous beach scenes associated with the theme tune were filmed at West Sands, St. Andrews (the last scene of the opening titles crosses the 1st and 18th holes at St. Andrews Golf Course); a plaque commemorating the filming can be found there today. The scene at Trinity College, Cambridge was actually filmed at Eton College. Liverpool Town Hall was the setting for the scenes depicting the British Embassy in Paris. The Colombes Olympic Stadium was represented by The Oval Sports Centre, Bebington, Merseyside. The nearby Woodside ferry terminal was used to represent the scenes set in Dover. The railway station scenes were filmed at York. Other scenes were filmed at Birchington, Kent. One of the final exterior scenes at the end of the film to commemorate the life of Harold Abrahams was shot at St. Mary-le-Bow Church in the City of London.

Camera and Electrical Department

Graham Attwood: unit still photographer
Michael Connor: focus puller (as Mike Connor)
Dennis Fraser: grip
Derek Gattrell: electrician (as Derek Gatrell)
Alan Grosch: electrician
Dewi Humphreys: camera operator
Brian Kemp: electrician
Eddie Knight: electrician
Billy Merrell: electrician (as Bill Merrill)
Ray Potter: chief electrician
Peter Robinson: camera loader
Brian Ellis: focus puller: “b” camera (uncredited)

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