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Chariots Of Fire: Re-Release Premiere – With Video

Euro 2012? Done. London 2012 Olympics? Coming up. 31st anniversary re-release of Hugh Hudson’s British drama CHARIOTS OF FIRE? Check, my friends! Yesterday afternoon at London’s Leicester Square Empire theatre, I had the privilege of mingling with some of England’s best thespians, including Nigel Havers, Ben Cross and Alice Krige.

The fact-based film, set in 1924, stars Ben Cross as Harold Abrahams, a Jewish student studying at Cambridge University. When Abrahams completes the university’s Trinity Great Court Run, it looks as if he has a great athletic career ahead of him. Although he struggles against antisemitism and prejudice at college, Abrahams is accepted onto the British team for the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, accompanied by devout Christian Eric Liddell (played by late actor Ian Charleson), Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers), Aubrey Montague (Nicholas Farrell) and Henry Stallard (Daniel Gerroll). If you haven’t seen the film you can probably guess the (triumphant) ending, which proudly stamps the film – deservedly – in many Greatest Films lists. It also won 4 Academy Awards at the 1981 ceremony, bringing British film very much to the forefront.

Although yesterday could just have been considered the mark of a re-release, I think it was more a celebration of such an enduring film – and the stars came out to prove it. While speaking to Hugh Hudson (the director) he said his greatest achievement from the film was ‘making the actors become runners’ and – contrary to popular belief – the film hasn’t been released to coincide with the Olympics: ‘We’re just doing something at the same time’. He also mentioned that the theme of selflessness was crucial: ‘It’s a very important thing to tell young people’. Here, here!

Shortly after Hudson left, the timeless beauty that is Alice Krige approached and there was one question we wanted an answer to: what was it like being the only female in such a male-driven film? She said:

‘Well there were two of us. There was Cheryl Campbell…um, I didn’t think about that, I was so busy trying to get it right! It was the first film I ever did and I was absolutely on the tips of my toes. I was actually very lucky because I shot my role almost entirely in sequence. I seemed to do scenes in 10-day intervals; so I’d do a scene, go away, think about the next one, come and do it and go away. So I actually had a relatively easy shoot – I didn’t have any running to do…I’m not a good runner! And also I met my husband on the film!’

Although Mr Cross was the man of the hour (and a bit busy), Nigel Havers managed to squeeze in some question answering, including what he thinks of the Leicester Square remodel, why he thinks CHARIOTS OF FIRE is so inspiring and whether he’s got any tickets for the Olympics. Check out the video below.

Apart from the sponge-like red carpet, the flash flooding and my soggy socks, a good evening was had by all!

CHARIOTS OF FIRE, directed by Hugh Hudson, is released in selected cinemas from Friday.

Considering Jazmine grew up watching CARRY ON SCREAMING, THE LION KING and JURASSIC PARK on repeat for weeks on end, it made sense for her to study film at London South Bank University. It’s also a good thing that her course requires a lot of sitting down because she’s very accident-prone. When she’s not examining her bruises, she likes pretending that she doesn’t live in Southend-On-Sea and spends hours mindlessly blogging. Favourite films include BLUE VALENTINE, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND and TOY STORY 2.

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