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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(1981), PG
Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
March 9, 2004
77 out of 100

By popular demand, my pict will be here for a while then moved to the end of the report pages.

Written/Prepared by:

T. Carder

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If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2004), PG --... this 1981 PG film. Brief but full rear male nudity plus ...

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Warner Bros.
Distribution (US): 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, The Ladd Company, Warner Bros., Warner Home Video
Director(s): Hugh Hudson
Producer(s): James Crawford, Jake Eberts, Dodi Fayed, David Puttnam
Written by/Screenplay: Colin Welland
Cinematography/Camera: David Watkin
Music: Orig9inal: Vangelis. Non-original: William S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry
Film Editing: Terry Rawlings
Casting: Esta Charkham
Production Design: Roger Hall
Viewed on: Warner Bros. Home Video

One would think a movie about Olympic sports would build up and rely upon fanfare and adrenaline. Not so with Chariots of Fire. This 128 minute sports film is less about fanfare and adrenaline than about human nature and character building with the winning of the 1924 Olympics almost as an after-thought or an unavoidable necessity. This "based on a true story" film is one of the those which earns the title a work of art if for no other reason it is not as saturated with sin to make its statement as are most modern films. Don't read that the wrong way. There are sins demonstrated in this 1981 PG film including brief but full rear male nudity plus six uses of foul language plus much drinking and smoking. If the language, the nudity and the drinking/smoking, were left out this film would be equivalent to a G-rated film. While this movie has what you (and God) feel is unacceptable behavior, I doubt that preteens would be able to fathom the story or would be interested in it.

The story opens in 1978 with an elderly 1924 Olympic winner Harold M. Abrahams (Ben Cross) giving an honorary speech to what appears to be a church group in London for legendary Eric Henry Liddell (Ian Charleson) who died on February 21, 1945. This sets the stage for telling the story of the intertwining of the lives of Abrahams, Liddell and other United Kingdom men who participated in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France.

Runners Liddell, a Scotsman, and Abrahams, an Englishman of Jewish descent plus Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell) and Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers) represented the United Kingdom in the 1924 Olympics. This is a story of their lives building up to that event. Indeed, it is a story more of building the relationship of Liddell with Abrahams rather than the Olympics.

Abrahams' self esteem and ego are fragile. To him, losing is devastating. Winning is the only reason he runs. If he loses, he doesn't want to run. However, in contrast Eric's ego is cast in concrete. Rather, his confidence is cast in Rock, the Rock of Ages: confidence that came from a joy and strength possible only in a Godly life. And Eric's sister, Jennie (Cheryl Campbell) worried so that all the fame of being a star athlete would steal Eric away from his duty to God, she would not let him forget that duty nor the danger to it. Eric revealed that God made him fast and that running made him feel God's pleasure. Except on Sunday. One of the heats of the 1924 Olympic games had Eric scheduled to run on Sunday. In honor of his allegiance to God's Word, Eric refused to run on Sunday, even when HRH Edward (David Yelland), the Prince of Wales himself argued with Eric to run, wanting Eric to place king and country before God. Fortunately, compatriot Andrew Lindsay switched events with Eric so Andrew could run the Sunday 100 meter heat for Eric so Eric could run in the later 400 meter heat, a run for which Eric had not been trained. This is not only a story of love of God but of teamwork and sacrifice AND unwillingness to compromise higher standards.

After the speech by Abrahams in 1978, the story leaps backward in time to a scene of the four central players plus a number of extras running the beach to Carlton Hotel, Broadstairs, Kent on June 28th 1924. Then the scene moves to Aubrey Montague writing a letter from his room to his parents, The scene then jumps back in time to Abrahams and Aubrey embarking to report to Cambridge University. After a session of social warfare with the head porter (Richard Griffiths), the four UK freshmen join all other freshmen at Cambridge, first honoring the war dead then welcoming and challenging the 1919 freshman class.

Soon, Abrahams challenges the College Dash. The College Dash is a 188- pace run around the perimeter of the courtyard that must be started on the first of twelve strikes of the courtyard clock and completed by the strike of the twelfth. In all the 700 years of Cambridge, no one has ever made it. Initially, Abrahams is unchallenged but Lindsay pipes up to run the course with Abrahams. Abrahams mentioned something to Lindsay like "I hate to lose. Don't you?" to which Lindsay replied"I don't know. I've never lost." Until now. Abrahams not only beats Lindsay, he completes the course around the courtyard before the twelfth stroke of the clock, the first time in the 700 years history of the University. Remember, Abrahams is the one who lives to win.

The rest of the show up to the Olympics in Paris is spent in quality character-building. We learn that Liddell is destined for missionary work for God in China; that he gave up playing rugby to pursue the Olympics before he undertook his calling in missionary work. We learn also that Liddell is first and foremost true to God. This film is most certainly not ashamed to give reverence and factual credit to the Father in Heaven and His Son. It repeatedly gives glory and credit to God and admits our subservience to him.

This Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1981 is an intricate weave of highly detailed character and story building. It is deep and rich in human nature while not ever losing the ability to keep the attention of the non-adolescent viewer. Faith in Christ and His Word are openly portrayed, upon which much of the film depends. One might go as far to say this might be a Christian film. The only sexual matters to this film were display of excessive cleavage (but not as severe as contemporary films), two instances of gaping face kissing between an unmarried heterosexual couple which were clearly lustful [1Cor. 7:2], and brief full rear male nudity [**]. There are six uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Titus 2:6 - 8] plus two uses of "fool" which God warns against sternly [Matt. 5:22] and two uses of God's name in vain but without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]. Smoking and drinking is rampant [Eph. 5:18]. Though rather short, the listing in the Findings/Scoring section reveals all that was noted.

Also note that if you rent the DVD (I don't know about the VHS), its subtitles (spoken words displayed on-screen) are most often inaccurate.

Regarding the full rear male nudity, to escape suffering it follow these instructions. When the scene shows a train arriving in London in 1923, shortly after that the scene is of Liddell in a locker room. At the first frame of Liddell in the locker room if you look away and fast-forward for about 15 seconds you'll be spared the nudity. For those of you with time display capability on your playback device (VHS or DVD) the nudity occurs (in Chapter 16 for DVD users) at 47 minutes and 31 seconds and is about four seconds long. You won't miss any key information to the plot or story. It is clear the filmmakers engineered that sequence just to get nudity into the film.

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If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. ** "Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation.
  • Titus 2:6 - 8 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
  • Matt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an expletive. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]
  • Eph. 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. ["Wine" can be any intoxicating substance. Though it is not a sin to drink, it is a sin to get drunk. A recent study has found an undeniable link between the presentation of alcoholic beverages and tobacco in and as entertainment and abuse of them by adolescents. And teaching/causing youth to abuse alcohol/tobacco by emboldening youth with them in and as entertainment invokes Luke 17:2]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences and present it to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it, submit to it. I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Rom. 5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Chariots of Fire (1981) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • none noted

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • six uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • excessive cleavage
  • two instances of gaping face kissing
  • full rear male nudity

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, frequently
  • drinking, frequently
  • drunkenness, two
  • use of booze to celebrate

    Offense to God (O)
  • two use of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive
  • "ran like a god"
  • "gods"
  • two uses of "fool" [Matt. 5:22]

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture

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