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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Chariots of Fire [Blu-ray]


(Hugh Hudson, 1981)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Allied Stars Ltd.

Video: Warner



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:04:07.481

Disc Size: 44,646,200,555 bytes

Feature Size: 33,589,567,488 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.88 Mbps

Chapters: 36

Case: Digibook Blu-ray case

Release date: July 17th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3880 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3880 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, none



36 pages of behind-the-scenes photos, production art, history and more -2 all new documentaries:
Paris, 1924: Birth of the Modern Games David Puttnam (27:21)
A Cinematic Champion (25:40)
-New interview with director Hugh Hudson (14:06)
-Commentary by Hugh Hudson
-Additional documentaries:
Wings on their Heels: The Making of Chariots of Fire (27:18)
Chariots of Fire: A Reunion (19:00)
- 8 Deleted scenes (13:27)
- Screen tests (4:14 + 4:34)

- Famous Opening Shot (1:06)

- Theatrical Trailer (1:34)
- Soundtrack sampler; 4 songs from the Oscar-winning compilation





Description: Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture! The inspiring true story of British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics. Ben Cross and Ian Charleson head a sterling cast of newcomers and veterans. The story, told in flashback, of two young British sprinters competing for fame in the 1924 Olympics. Eric, a devout Scottish missionary runs because he knows it must please God. Harold, the son of a newly rich Jew runs to prove his place in Cambridge society.



The Film:

''Chariots of Fire'' is a celebration of a number of things, not the least of which is a kind of highly committed, emotionally involving drama that knows the difference between sentiment and sentimentality. It also introduces more a than half-dozen talents, mostly English, and celebrates the British film industry, which, with ''The French Lieutenant's Woman'' and now ''Chariots of Fire,'' is quite evidently in top form once again.

''Chariots of Fire'' was conceived by David Puttnam, its producer, who commissioned the excellent original screenplay by Colin Welland and then assigned a man new to feature films, Hugh Hudson, to direct it. The film, virtually a succession of smashing debuts, is the story of the 1924 Olympics, particularly of two British track stars who helped win glory for God, King and country - one furiously competitive young English Jew, a Cambridge stude nt named Harold Abrahams, and one dedicated young Church of Scotland preacher, Eric Liddell, who says at one point to explain why he runs, ''God made me devout and - He made me fast.''

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men... who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith. Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior. The film crosscuts between each man's life as he trains for the competition, fueled by these very different desires. As compelling as the racing scenes are, it's really the depth of the two main characters that touches the viewer, as they forcefully drive home the theme that victory attained through devotion, commitment, integrity, and sacrifice is the most admirable feat that one can achieve. (Ian Holm was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in his role as Abrahams' coach), and this powerful film ended up with four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Chariots of Fire appears quite impressive on Blu-ray from Warner.  The dual-layered transfer supplies a high bitrate and the resulting image is thick and dark. I see hints of green which I suspect may be a failing telecine but can't state with any certainty. Detail is strong - a function of the adept contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels. The extensive outdoor scenes showcase the crispness. Overall this Blu-ray has few visual inconsistencies - it is clean (a very few minor speckles) and supports the film's magnificent period art direction showing costume fibers, substance texture and minor grain. The 1080P has benefited the film's presentation value to a very high level.

















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 is at a capable 3880 kbps and sounds flawless from the iconic Vangelis score to the subtle effects. It has seething depth and surprising range with the film infrequently testing its sonic limitations. The audio is crisp and even and sounds... absolutely perfect. At times the score has a tinny edge but I recall this theatrically as well. There are optional subtitles and  my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

The Blu-ray package is stacked and comes in a 36 page, handsome, thick, Digibook with behind-the-scenes photos, production art, historical data and more. Firstly is the commentary by Hugh Hudson - there are gaps but a lot of production information is covered - Hudson is an intelligent chap - and for those keen on the film I suspect they will find this commentary interesting. There are 2 all new documentaries. Paris, 1924: Birth of the Modern Games runs shy of 1/2 an hour and discusses the importance of the 24' games. A Cinematic Champion is about the same length covering accolades of the film and production. There is a new, 14-minute interview with director Hugh Hudson. Most of the rest has been available on previous SD editions including the Wings on their Heels: The Making of Chariots of Fire, 00) 8 Deleted scenes, Screen tests, a reunion and trailer. The package contains a 2nd disc - a CD Soundtrack sampler; 4 songs from the Oscar-winning compilation.



Chariots of Fire remains such an impressive film. I wasn't particularly in the mood when I saw it but it won me over with ease after the first 15-minutes. This amounts to another essential in the digital library. There aren't many films I can think of about athletics that are so artistic and, at the same time, intelligent. The Blu-ray is marvelous - offering a brilliant a/v presentation and substantial extras including the commentary. It is all housed in a beautiful package that gives immense value to all cinema fans. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 8th, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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