Chariots of Fire

Nigel Havers as Lord Lindsay

I have been running barefoot on the beaches of Fire Island  for the past weeks.  It’s been transforming to my practice of running and just an absolute pleasure.   I park my car at Robert Moses Beach  Field 5 and have gotten as far as Cherry Grove, over 7 miles away–that day I took a few hours off before heading back. (Bronx 1/2 marathon end of the month–I hope I can do it!)

I kept being reminded of the iconic beach running scene in CHARIOTS OF FIRE which I had seen the year it came out.  I was definitely not a runner at that time, so since the film had been flashing  through my mind on every single run I took, I decided to Netflix it..

Talk about ‘running and praying’

I can’t believe how much I loved seeing this film again.  This time, I understood the elation and pain.  Although I am decidedly not a sprinter or a competitor, the actual visceral experience of running is best communicated in this film above others I have experienced–just look at this picture and see Lindsay’s runner’s high..everything about this film is gorgeous, the guys, the women , the clothes, the scenery.

I was about 20 years old when the film came out.  I really loved the Harold  Abraham story, the angst filled Jewish gentleman who ran to prove himself to the powers that were, and who agonized over every slight and defeat.  Now almost 30 years later, I very much more loved Eric Liddell, the man of God and conviction who refused to compete in the Olympics on a Sunday.  Two lines in the dialogue blurred Liddell’s strict observance of Christianity–one line (written by the actor who portrayed him, Ian Charleson) suggested that humans find God and strength within (perhaps a reference to the Holy Spirit?).  The second line, delivered by an American competitor, suggested that his choices were “something personal.”  I thought the writers portrayed this character in a way that could be generalized to all audiences, and it probably added to the appeal of the story.

The film I came to understand, was riddled with inaccuracies, but it led to such a satisfying story, I was quite alright with it.

The film inspired me to get on wikipedia and find out everything–very saddened to know that Ian Charleson who played Eric had died at age 40.  And of course,  I was reminded of the death of my old favorite, Brad Davis who played Jackson Sholtz, the American champion.  All that youth and beauty..gone too soon.

Last night when  I came home from running on the beach under purple skies at sunset my feet were nothing short of ecstatic about walking on the carpet, waves of pleasure rode through me…a runner’s high smile crossed my face, and the Vangelis score rang in my ears..


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