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Chariots of Fire Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Brilliant true story of 1924 Olympic footrace.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this true story of British Olympic runners has very little mature content -- drinking and smoking mostly -- but may be too hard to follow for younger fans of sports movies. The two runners it features are worth discussing with kids, though. One runner is Jewish and fights prejudice through competition. The other is a Scottish missionary and refuses to run an Olympic race on Sunday, even when the Prince of Wales tries to appeal to his love of country. As a side note, a lone Lipton Tea billboard shows up along a racetrack -- a great reminder of just how littered with advertising most sporting events are today.

  • Families can talk about why running was so important to these men. Was it different for different athletes? Why does Harold Abrahams think of quitting when he loses to Liddell? 
  • Why doesn't Eric's sister want him to race? Why does he race despite her objections?
  • Why don't the teachers at Harold Abrahams' school think it is appropriate to have a coach? Would anyone think that today?

The good stuff
  • message true4

    Messages: High ideals are explored here through the athletic achievements of two men: sticking to principles (most notably here, religious ones), honoring family and country, and overcoming prejudices to make your mark on the world.

  • rolemodels true4

    Role models: Two men race for very different reasons. Harold Abrahams fights against racism and religious intolerance as well as to honor his family. Eric Liddell, a missionary Christian, believes that God has given him a gift and preaches to others after races to spread the word. When one of the Olympic races is on a Sunday he refuses to run -- even when the Prince of Wales urges him to do so. Sticking to his principles endears him to many. Abrahams' Italian-Arab coach Sam Mussabini is a good role model for the restless Abrahams, reminding him of what's important in life.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Tense moments of competition. A mention at the end of the movie that Eric Liddell was killed in China during World War II. Former runners attend Abrahams' funeral in 1978.

  • sex false1

    Sex: Some kissing and a mention of a performer at the Savoy Theatre who gets pregnant and has to quit.

  • language false1

    Language: The French are called "frogs" more than once by the British, plus "bloody" and "hell."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Lipton Tea is the only billboard visible at a race.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Lots of social drinking plus smoking of cigarettes and cigars, even by athletes before races. Glasses filled with champagne are propped on hurdles.

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