Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Celebrating the Olympics

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Chariots of Fire” (1981):

There have been a lot of good sports movies over the years. Mostly about baseball. Football does get quite a few movies. Usually those are about going out and winning “one for the Gipper”. There’s basketball and hockey and soccer and cricket movies. There’s a rugby movie, “Invictus”. Clint Eastwood directed that one. And how about those bowling movies, “King Pin” and “The Big Lebowski”. Even jousting got into the act with “A Knight’s Tale”.

The Olympics too have done pretty well in the movies. The two I most remember are Leni Riefenstahl’s documentary of the 1936 Olympics, “Olympia” and Burt Lancaster’s portrayal, “Jim Thorpe, All American”. But for me, the one that often comes to mind is “Chariots of Fire” when I think movies about the Olympics.

“Chariots of Fire” is a case for the Academy Awards having a purpose. They can call attention to a high-quality film that deserves a wider audience. Like “Spotlight”, “Chariots of Fire” won Best Picture. Out of seven Academy Award nominations, it won four.

There’s something about “Chariots of Fire” that makes it stand out. Like so many other sports movies, it’s not about the victory. It’s about the struggle to achieve the victory. But “Chariots of Fire” is also about the cost to two athletes who go for the gold. Specifically the 1924 Olympic gold in Paris.

Two young men, one Jewish, one Christian, one English, one Scot, had only two things in common. They were fast and they challenged the establishment. Harold Abrahams hired a professional trainer. Eric Liddell would not run on Sunday.

Occasionally I watch a movie and one short scene makes an impact on me. If I remember nothing else about the movie, it’s that scene. The scene that always comes to mind is not the opening running scene with the music, though that is powerful. It is the scene where Eric Liddell is getting ready to compete. Another runner had agreed to change races with Liddell. An American steps up to Liddell and hands him a note. The note says, “It says in the Old Book, ‘He that honors me, I will honor.'” That runner was Jackson Scholz.

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