Chariots of Fire (1981) Script

Let us praise famous men... and our fathers that begat us.

All these men... were honoured in their generations... and were a glory in their days.

We are here today to give thanks... for the life of Harold Abrahams.

To honour the legend.

Now there are just two of us... young Aubrey Montague... and myself... who can close our eyes... and remember those few young men... with hope in our hearts... and wings on our heels.

Carlton Hotel, Broadstairs, Kent.

28th June, 1924.

Dear Mum. I'm most awfully sorry about your cold and the general dreariness.

We're also having quite bad weather here, too.

Thanks for your letters. I'm sorry you and Pa are disappointed...

I should be letting the Olympic Games interfere with my shorthand.

But if you were my age, with a chance to win the World Championship in Paris... you would be just as big a fool as I am.

By the way, it's awfully kind of Pa to finance me here, in spite of my idiocy.

It's marvellous for esprit de corps. Most of the chaps have managed to get down.

Cricket, Montague, in the ballroom. Now!

No ball!

Come on, Aubrey, the old leg break.

Howzat! Not out.

What? You could hear it in bloody Bournemouth!

Come on, Liddell, my innings. I didn't touch it.

You heard the crack of my wrist. I saw the bloody thing bend! Andy!

No tickle for me.

He's out, I tell you. You're all deaf and bloody blind.

Aubrey, I ask you, for God's sake!

It's not fair!

All right.

Harold's here. As intense as ever.

Just as he was on our very first day at Cambridge.

I remember we shared a taxi together.

I'll take these.

See you inside, Aubrey. Right.

Thank you.

Name, please. We're new.

I can see that, laddie. What's your name?

Abrahams. HM.

Top of the list. Repton. That the one? That's it. Left a year ago.

Been doing your bit, 'ave you? France? No. Joined too late.

Bad luck, lad.

Many a dead man would have liked a share of it.

You're right there, son.

Welcome to Caius.

Sign here. Thank you.

It's across the courtyard, top right-hand corner, up the stairs.


By the way, what are your names?

Rogers, head porter, and this is Mr Ratcliffe, my assistant.

Well, Mr Rogers, Ratcliffe...

I ceased to be a "laddie" when I took up the King's commission.

Is that clear? Yes... Mr Abrahams.

Quite clear. Thank you.

I'd be obliged if you'd remember it.

See you later. Fine.

What's your friend studying, then, son?

Barrack-room law?

I've no idea.

One thing's certain.

A name like Abrahams, he won't be in the chapel choir, now, will he?

Name? Montague.

What? Montague.

I take the war list... and I run down it.

Name after name which I cannot read... and which we, who are older than you... cannot hear, without emotion.

Names which will be only names to you... the new college.

But which to us summon up face after face... full of honesty and goodness... zeal and vigour... and intellectual promise.

The flower of a generation.

The glory of England... and they died for England... and all that England stands for.

And now by tragic necessity, their dreams have become yours.

Let me exhort you. Examine yourselves.

Let each of you discover... where your true chance of greatness lies.

For their sakes... for the sake of your college and your country, seize this chance.

Rejoice in it... and let no power or persuasion deter you in your task.

Thursday, October 10th, 1919.

My first day at Cambridge was rounded off... by the freshmen's dinner, a sumptuous affair.

The master gave us a moving speech... and I'm now eagerly awaiting the start of term proper.

Rugby club, golfing society, tennis... squash club, flora and fauna, philately.

Is that all? You're an idle man!

I've got to work some time. Try bird-watching. You can take a book.

How can I watch if I'm reading a book?

Follow in the footsteps of WG. Any Yorkshiremen here?

I can't bat for toffee.

♪ Upon the battle scene

♪ They fight the foe together

♪ There every mother's son

♪ Prepared to fight or fall is

♪ The enemy of one the enemy of all is

♪ The enemy of one the enemy of all is Abrahams, HM. Can you manage a tenor?

We're desperately short of tenors. Only under torture.

Aubrey. Sing, do you? School choir, that's all.

You, Stallard?

They kicked me out of Ring-a-ring o'Roses.

Sorry about that. We can't all be gifted.

♪ If everybody's somebody

♪ Then no one's anybody Put my friend here down as well. Steady on.

Splendid! Rehearsals start on Monday. Iolanthe.

I was a boy alto. Perfect! You can be Queen of the Fairies.

Where were you when your country needed you?

We have a duty, a solemn duty, to those millions of lives needlessly slaughtered!

♪ When the boys are far away

♪ They dream of home Well, glad to have you, Stallard.

Good middle-distance men don't grow on trees.

I can't vouch for those times.

Taken with the school alarm clock, most of them.

Give or take a second, they're good enough for me.

Have you come across a fellow called Abrahams? HM Abrahams?

He's challenged for the college dash.

What's so special about that?

In all the 700 years, nobody's ever done it.

Right, what do you do?

Right, chaps, thank you! Thank you.

Let it be known that HM Abrahams of Gonville and Caius... has formally made challenge for the college dash.

You show 'em, Harold!

For those not familiar with the rules...

The challenger will attempt to run around the court perimeter... to and from a point beneath the clock... within the time taken by the clock to strike midday.

A distance traditionally recognised as one of 188 paces.

I say, Abrahams, what have you got on your feet? Rockets?

The challenge will commence on the...

Abrahams, you haven't got a chance! Do it for Israel!

The challenge commences on the stroke of one.

The challenger must finish before the stroke of 12.

Come on, Abrahams, you swank!

Will the challenger make himself ready?

This Abrahams. What do you know about him?

Repton chap.


His father's a financier in the city. Financier?

What's that supposed to mean, I wonder?

I imagine he lends money.


And what do they say about the son?

Academically sound. Arrogant.

Defensive to the point of pugnacity.

Mm. As they invariably are.

Yet possessing a keen sense of duty and loyalty.

Do they say he can run?

Like the wind.

Gentlemen, would you draw back, please? Away from the course.

Thank you.

Mr Abrahams, your position, please.

Owing to the absence of any other challenger...

Mr Abrahams will run alone.

Not so, Mr Starter!

Your name and college, if you please, sir.

Lindsay. I race beside my friend here.

We challenge in the name of Repton, Eton and Caius.

- I didn't know you ran. Nor I you.

Some chap just told me about this. I thought I'd come and push you along.

Delighted. Splendid.

Good luck.

Gentlemen, to your marks, if you please.

Now remember, on the first strike of 12.

Come on!




Eleven! Go on! Go on!

Did they both do it?

I think not.

Young Lindsay failed by a whisker. Pity.

Well, it's been done. And by a Caius man! You must be very proud.

The first man in seven centuries.

Perhaps they really are God's chosen people, after all.

I doubt if there's a swifter man in the kingdom.

Get to your marks.

Get set.

He may be your best friend, Sandy, but he's my best brother.

I'm thinking of him and not your blessed athletics team.

His heart's set on following Father in the mission.

Do you not think he's busy enough without taking up racing?

He's fast, Jennie. You've seen him with a ball in his hands.

I've seen him with a Bible in his hands.

And I know which is the most important.

You can't deny him the chance.

Get him on the track, I'm telling you...

Don't tell me, Sandy. I don't want to hear.

Eric's special to me. Precious.

I don't want his work spoilt with all this running talk, do you hear?

There you are. Well done.

You know, ladies and gentlemen... one of the compensations of achieving a certain notoriety... if only as a rugby player... is that occasionally you're asked to give things away.

It's often said that giving beats receiving.

Let me tell you... the look of delight on those little boys' faces... was worth ten of the tin pots gathering dust on my Edinburgh sideboard.

When we were in China, my father here... was always waxing lyrical about his wee home in the glen.

But being oriental-born myself... like my brothers and my sister here...

I suffered from a natural incredulity.

But looking about me now... the heather on the hills...

I can see he was right.

It's very special.

Thank you for welcoming us home.

And thank you... for reminding me that I am, and will be whilst I breathe... a Scot.

Mr Provost, sir.

Before you allow Eric here to go...

Is it not true that the main event of the meeting is still to be run?

It is. Aye.

The 200-yards open championship.

It's the last event of this gathering, by tradition.

Do you not think, if we can find him some kit... we might persuade Scotland's finest wing to show us his paces?

What do you say, Eric?

To your marks!

Get set!

Didn't I tell you, Eric? Didn't I tell you?

Surely a touch of liberality would do no harm.

Sandy, the kingdom of God is not a democracy.

The Lord never seeks re-election.

There's no discussion, no deliberation... no referenda as to which road to take.

There's one right, one wrong... one absolute ruler.

A dictator, you mean. Aye, but a benign, loving dictator.

So much for your freedom of choice.

You've still got a choice, Sandy.

Nobody's forcing you to follow it.

Hey, hey!

Do you know what day it is? Yeah.

Tell me, then. Sunday.

The Sabbath's not a day for playing football, is it?


Are you up early in the morning? Me ma gets me up at seven.

We'll have a game then, then. OK?

Mr Liddell, is it OK if me da comes?

Sure. Bring your whole family.

I'll give ye a five-goal start.

You've got a train to catch at nine.

There's plenty of time.

Do you want the kid to grow up thinking God's a spoilsport?

If I may, I'd like to propose a toast.

To the Liddell family... whom I'm fortunate enough to call my friends.

The Reverend JD, Mrs L, young Ernest.

Bon voyage and safe journey back to China.

May the years ahead be happy and content.

For those who remain, may God protect them... inspire them... and lead them to glory.

Thank you, Sandy. That was very nice.

I'm relying on you now to keep them all out of mischief.

That I will, Mrs L. If they do transgress, I'll pop the details on a postcard.

You can read all about it before you can say Marco Polo.

Cost you a fortune in postage stamps.

Don't worry. I shall protect my investment.

I'm going to rule you with a rod of iron.

We're going to have to watch ourselves!

You're a very lucky young man, Eric.

You're the proud possessor of many gifts.

And it's your sacred duty to put them to good use.

Dad's right. Run like we know you can, strong and true.

The mission cannot but gain by your success.

What we need now is a muscular Christian.

To make folks sit up and notice.

How good are you, Eric?

Sandy reckons he'll run for Scotland before the month's out.

Then after that... the sky's the limit.

Meaning what?

The Olympic Games, maybe?

Eric, you can praise the Lord by peeling a spud... if you peel it to perfection.

Don't compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil.

Run in God's name... and let the world stand back in wonder.

♪ Lean and his mercy will provide

♪ Trust and thy trusting soul shall prove

♪ Christ is its life and Christ its love

Run the straight race

Through God's good grace

Lift up thine eyes

And seek his face

Life with its way before us lies

You came to see a race today.

To see someone win.

It happened to be me.

But I want you to do more than just watch a race.

I want you to take part in it.

I want to compare faith to running in a race.

It's hard.

It requires concentration of will.

Energy of soul.

You experience elation... when the winner breaks the tape... especially if you've got a bet on it.

But how long does that last?

You go home. Maybe your dinner's burnt.

Maybe you haven't got a job.

So who am I to say believe... have faith, in the face of life's realities?

I would like to give you something more permanent... but I can only point the way.

I have no formula for winning the race.

Everyone runs in her own way... or his own way.

And where does the power come from to see the race to its end?

From within.

Jesus said...

"Behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

"If with all your hearts ye truly seek me... ye shall ever surely find me."

If you commit yourself... to the love of Christ... then that is how you run a straight race.

Cheers. Thanks for coming.

It's an ache.

A helplessness.

And an anger.

One feels humiliated.

Sometimes I say to myself, "Steady on, you're imagining all this."

Then I catch that look again.

Catch it on the edge of a remark.

Feel a cold reluctance in a handshake.

That's my father.

A Lithuanian Jew.

He is alien.

He's as foreign as a frankfurter. A kosher one at that!

I love and admire him.

He worships this country.

From nothing, he built what he believed... was enough to make true Englishmen of his sons.

My brother's a doctor.

A leader in his field.

Which one is he? That's me with the curls, on his back.

He wanted for nothing.

And here am I.

Setting up shop in the finest university in the land.

But the old man forgot one thing.

This England of his is Christian... and Anglo-Saxon.

And so are her corridors of power.

And those who stalk them guard them with jealousy and venom.

You're right to study law. You're quite an advocate.

A rare ethnic advantage. It's called the gift of the gab.

So what now? Grin and bear it?

No, Aubrey.

I'm going to take them on. All of them.

One by one.

And run them off their feet.

He is an Englishman!

He is an Englishman

For he himself has said it

And it's greatly to his credit

That he is an Englishman

England beckons for sprint blue.

From a special correspondent.

Clean sweep for Cambridge star.

Abrahams hat trick.

From a special correspondent.

But in spite of all temptations

To belong to other nations

He remains an Englishman

He remains an


For in spite of all temptations

To belong to other nations

He remains an Englishman

♪ He remains an

♪ Englishman


Bravo, Harold!

♪ L'étendard sanglant est levé

♪ L'étendard sanglant est levé

♪ Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

♪ Contre nous de la tyrannie

♪ L'étendard sanglant est levé

♪ L'étendard sanglant est levé

♪ Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

4-1 Liddell! What are you asking?

£25, Liddell to win.

Mr Mussabini, I believe.

My name's Keddie. Colonel John Keddie.

I'm... President of the Scottish Three A's.

I know, and I'm glad to know you, sir.

Monsieur Sam! Bonjour. - Bonjour.

How's the leg? OK.

Nasty fall you took.

Enchanté. Good luck.

You're very welcome here, of course.

But we do have a strict amateur code.

Colonel, don't worry your head.

I'm here spectating, that's all.

Good. I felt sure you would understand.

Well, to battle!

I hope you enjoy the games.

Games? You must be joking.

I've seen better-organised riots.

Come on, Scotland!

Vive la France!

Gentlemen, get to your marks.

Get set.

Get up, lad. Get up.


He'll never do it.

Don't you believe it. His head's not back yet.

Come on, Eric!

Get back! Give him air!

Well done, Eric, son. Well done.

He'll be right in a jiffy. I'll go away and get his clothes.

You take good care of this lad o' yours, Mr McGrath.

Because if you drop him, you'll never find another one like this.

It's not the prettiest quarter I've ever seen, Mr Liddell.

But certainly the bravest.

Get him up. Come on, gently.

Keep your arm around.

Mr Mussabini.

Mr Abrahams, is it?

So you've travelled 300 mile just to see me?

You and Liddell.

I'd heard you were both the best.

And what do you think now?

Eric Liddell?

I've never seen such drive, such commitment in a runner.

He runs like a wild animal.

He unnerves me.

So he should.

He frightens the living daylights out of me.

I want you to help me take him on.

Tell me, Mr Abrahams. Are you married?

No. Why?

Well... when the right girl comes along... how will you feel if she pops the question?

You see, Mr Abrahams... like the bridegroom... it's the coach that should do the asking.

Mr Mussabini...

I can run fast.

With your help, I think I can run even faster.

Perhaps faster than any man ever ran.

I want that Olympic medal.

Now, I can see it there.

It's waiting for me.

But I can't get it on my own.

Well, we've an old saying in my game, son.

You can't put in what God's left out.

Now, you leave it to me.

I'll watch you. I'll observe. And if I think I can help... if I can see the big prize hanging there... believe me, I won't waste any time.

When we meet again...

I'll be the one that does the begging.

So you will watch me?

Son, if you're good enough...

I'll take you apart piece by bloody piece.

Thank you.

♪ Three little maids who, all unwary

♪ Come from a ladies' seminary

♪ Freed from its genius tutelary

♪ Three little maids from school

♪ Three little maids from school

♪ One little maid is a bride, Yum-Yum

♪ Two little maids in attendance come

♪ Three little maids is the total sum

♪ Three little maids from school

♪ From three little maids, take one away

♪ Two little maids remain and they

♪ Won't have to wait very long, they say

♪ Three little maids from school

♪ Three little maids from school

♪ Three little maids who, all unwary

♪ Come from a ladies' seminary

♪ Freed from its genius tutelary

♪ Three little maids from school Didn't I tell you? Isn't she a peach? She's magnificent.

Bravo! Bravo!

I think it's going rather well.

I've never seen this sort of thing, but I am enjoying it.

And you, JB? I've done better shows myself.

Do you remember them offhand? - I don't!

So the stone heart's frail after all.

Abrahams is smitten, you say? Smitten? He's decapitated.

He won't listen to reason. The poor lad's in love!

He's only just set eyes on her. I've worshipped her for years.

By the way, where is he now? He's gone to ask her out to dinner.

Has he, by Jove! In the interval?!

Thank you. Mine, I take it? Harold.



Well what? Did you speak to her?


Is she coming? Yes.

To dinner? Yes.

Her kid brother is athletics-mad. Always talking about me!

Monty, you'd better have my glass. I've a terrible feeling you're going to need it.

Sorry, Monty.

Yes, thank you very much, sir.

Yes, of course I will, sir.

Good evening, Miss Gordon!

A triumph, I hear.

Who was that chap over there?

Music critic of the Star.

Boring old buffer, really. Well, he obviously enjoyed it.

I shouldn't think so.

They always say that. They save the poison for the print.

A bit off tonight, I thought. What? You were magnificent!

Thank you.

One of my little maids has gone and got herself preggers with a gondolier.

We had to shove her second on tonight. The trio...

Your usual, Miss Gordon? Thank you, Toffy.

And you, sir.

Thank you.

This is Mr Abrahams. He's a very famous runner.

He's trying your special for the first time tonight.

I hope you enjoy it, sir. I'm sure I shall.

Well, go on then!

It's a secret concoction of Toffy's... a sort of cocktail de maison... so you'd jolly well better enjoy it.

Excellent. There, Toffy!

You've won yourself a friend for life.

My favourite, please.

For two. My pleasure.

What have I ordered?


Cheerio. Cheerio.

Well... the great Harold Abrahams.

My brother will be insanely jealous.

So will mine.

You don't look very ruthless.

Should I?

According to my brother. Tim says that's why you always win.

Why running? Why singing?

It's my job.

No, that's silly. I do it because I love it.

Do you love running?

I'm more of an addict. It's a compulsion. A weapon.

Against what? Being Jewish, I suppose.

You're not serious?!

You're not Jewish... or you wouldn't ask.


People don't care.

Anyway, being Jewish hasn't done you any harm.

I'm what I call semi-deprived.

That sounds clever. What does it mean?

It means they lead me to water, but they won't let me drink.

You're a funny old stick, Mr Harold Abrahams.

Funny... but fascinating.

I'll settle for the fascinating.

Life isn't that gloomy, is it?

Not tonight.

You're so beautiful.

Like you.

Le pied de porc anglais, madame.

Pigs' trotters.

Oh, my God.

The train arriving at platform two... is the Flying Scotsman from Aberdeen.

7.30, Mr Liddell! 7.30 on t'dot.

There you are, sir. Hot tea and toast.


You sleep all right? Like a log.

Aye. Must have a clear conscience.

Far from it.

Are we here? Aye, sir. Just pulled in. King's Cross.

Oh, and here's the paper, with your picture in.

Expecting great things, from all accounts.

Are they indeed?

Here you are. Much obliged, sir.

Now, no hurry. You've got an hour before we kick you out.

And good luck for this afternoon. Thank you.

Come on, sir. Wake up. King's Cross.

Aye, Mr Abrahams. So's the Scot.

Mr Abrahams?

Mr Liddell.

I'd like to wish you the best of success.

Thank you. And may the best man win.

Get to your marks.

Get set.




This is absolutely ridiculous.

It's a race you've lost, not a relative. Nobody's dead.

For goodness' sake, snap out of it, Harold. You're behaving like a child.

I lost. I know!

I was there, remember? Watching.

It was marvellous.

You were marvellous.

He was more marvellous, that's all.

On the day, the best man won.

I had to look for him.

It's absolutely fundamental. You never look.

He was ahead. There was nothing you could have done. He won fair and square.

Well, that's that, Abrahams.

If you can't take a beating, it's for the best.

I don't run to take beatings!

I run to win.

If I can't win, I won't run.

If you don't run, you can't win.

Ring me when you've sorted that one out.


Don't go.

I just don't know what to do.

Try growing up.


You're a great man.

You ran like a god.

I was proud of you. Don't make me ashamed.

It's not the losing, Syb.

Eric Liddell's a fine man and a fine runner.

It's me!

After all that work... now, God knows, what do I aim for?

Beating him the next time.

Sybil, I can't run any faster.

Mr Abrahams!

Mr Abrahams!

I can find you another two yards.

Charlie Paddock.

Californian cannonball. World's fastest human.

Winner, 100 metres, Olympic Games...

1920, Antwerp. Time? 10.3.

Jackson Scholz... the New York Thunderbolt.

Runner-up, Olympic Games, 1920.

Lost by looking right.

Look, here's the finish. You see?

Paddock, leaping past him at the tape?

That glance cost Scholz the race.

Scholz's fastest? 10.3... 4.

Eric Liddell. Well, you know all about him.

Look at them.

Think them. Breathe them.

I want their faces leering at you every time you shut your eyes.

The Flying Scotsman first. That bloody well hurt.

What, Eric Liddell?

Well, he's no real problem.

He's a great runner but he needs to go further out.

He's no 100-metres man. He could have fooled me!

Yeah, he's fast.

But he won't go any faster, not in the dash, anyway. He's a gut runner.

He's all heart. Digs deep.

A short sprint is run on nerves.

It's tailor-made for neurotics. Thanks very much.

No, I mean it. You can push guts, bully them, but you can hone nerves.

Paddock, Scholz and Eric Liddell.

Come here a minute, Mr Abrahams.

Now, do you know why you lost the other day?

Because you're overstriding.

Just a couple of inches. Now...

These coins represent the strides in your hundred metres.

Have you got another two coins, Mr Abrahams?

Well, maybe we can find them.

As I said... overstriding.

Death to the sprinter.

Slap in the face each stride you take.

Knocks you back.

Like that. Like that... and that!


I want you to imagine you're running on hot bricks.

If you leave your feet too long on the ground, they'll get burnt.

Up, up, up. Light, light, light! Light as a feather.


No! Not your head back again!

Get it level! Go and do it again.

That's it!

Faster, come on!

Pass the car! Go on!

Go on! Go on!

Go on, go on, on, on!

Come on, now! Keep it up, come on!

Rhythm, Mr Abrahams, rhythm!

Training, training. All I ever hear is training.

Do you believe in what we're doing here or not?

Look, Jennie, I'm sorry.

I was late. I apologise.

It's all very well, Eric. Look, I said I was sorry.

To me. It's not me you've insulted.

Away with your bother!

The Lord'll not feel slighted at the missing of a bus.

Yes, Eric, you missed a bus. But why?

Your mind's not with us any more, son.

It's full of running and starting and medals and pace.

It's so full of it, you've no room for standing still.

Jennie, Jennie, Jennie!

Don't fret yourself.

I do fret myself, Eric.

I'm frightened for you.

I'm frightened for what it all might do to you.

Please, Mr Liddell. Would you sign your name, please?


You want to pick yourself a pen?

There you are. Thanks.

Come on, Jennie, let's go for a walk. I've got something to say.

It's a sight and a half, in't it, Jennie?

Auld Reekie. I'll be sad to leave it.

I've decided.

I'm going back to China.

The missionary service have accepted me.

Oh, I'm so pleased!

But I've got a lot of running to do first.


Jennie, you've got to understand.

I believe that God made me for a purpose.

For China.

But he also made me fast.

And when I run... I feel his pleasure.

To give it up would be to hold him in contempt.

You were right.

It's not just fun.

To win is to honour him.



I've got my degree to get.

All that work.

Then there's Paris.

The Olympic Games.

There's just not enough of me.

I'm asking you to manage the mission on your own... till then.

Will you do that for me, Jennie?

Andy, I've lost him.

Can't reach him.

You will, old girl. You will.

He says he needs to clear his mind of me.

He can't love me and say that.


The world's against him, or so he believes.

Now he's got a chance to prove himself.

He can't see or hear anything beyond that, not even you.

It's hard, I know, but you've just got to try and understand.

Why should I? Because he's what you want, isn't he?

What about you?

And Stallard and Aubrey?

You're still the same. The chance is there for you too.

To be a fastest, yes, but not the fastest.

The fastest man ever before.

Father's never going to learn how to do that.

That's immortality.

Just think what it means to a man like Harold.

Well, to me the whole thing's fun. I don't need that.

"Cast care aside" and all that.

But for Harold, it's a matter of life and death.

So all I can do is wait? 'Fraid so.

And pray like hell that he wins!

And if he doesn't?

You mustn't worry, old thing.

I've never ever seen a man so smitten as our Harold.

It's just that I'm a little envious, that's all.

Oh, Andy.

Your parasol, Miss Gordon. Thank you, Mildred.

Good luck tonight.

He's a damned fool!

I always thought the Irish had all the luck!

John, Savoy Theatre. Yes, sir.


Mildred, would you get my spikes?

Ready, my lord!

Now, Coote, if I shed a drop I want to know.

Touch but not spill, what?

Life slips by, Abrahams.

Life slips by.

But this fine old university of ours, she offers some rare consolations.

Beyond measure, sir.

I can take it, then, that you would be acutely grieved to discover... that any behaviour or action on your part were causing her grief?

Naturally, sir. I would, deeply.

Good. I was sure of it.

Here in Cambridge, we've always been proud of our athletic prowess.

We believe, we've always believed, that our games are indispensable... in helping to complete the education of an Englishman.

They create character.

They foster courage, honesty and leadership.

But most of all, an unassailable spirit of loyalty... comradeship and mutual responsibility.

Would you agree? Yes, sir. I would.

I'm afraid there is a growing suspicion in the bosom of this university... and I tell you this without in any way... decrying your achievements, in which we all rejoice... that in your enthusiasm for success... you have perhaps lost sight of some of these ideals.

May I ask what form this disloyalty, this betrayal, takes?

Oh, hardly betrayal! The word grief was mentioned.

It's said that you use a personal coach.

Mr Mussabini, yes.

Is he Italian? Of Italian extraction, yes.

I see. But not all Italian.

I'm relieved to hear it. He's half Arab!

Do we take it that you employ this Mr Mussabini on a professional basis?

Sam Mussabini is the finest, most advanced... clearest-thinking athletics coach in the country.

I'm honoured to be worthy of his attention.

Nevertheless, he's a professional.

What else would he be? He's the best.

But there, Mr Abrahams, I'm afraid our paths diverge.

You see, this university believes that the way of the amateur... is the only one to provide satisfactory results.

I am an amateur.

You're being trained by a professional.

You've adopted a professional attitude.

For the past year, you have concentrated on developing your own technique... in the headlong pursuit, may I suggest, of individual glory.

Not a policy very conducive to the fostering of esprit de corps.

I am a Cambridge man first and last.

I am an Englishman first and last.

What I have achieved, what I intend to achieve, is for my family... my university and my country.

And I bitterly resent your suggesting otherwise.

Your aim is to win at all costs, is it not?

At all costs, no. But I do aim to win within the rules.

Perhaps you would rather I played the gentleman and lost?

To playing the tradesman, yes.

My dear boy, your approach has been, if I may say so, a little too plebeian.

You are the elite... and are therefore expected to behave as such.

Thank you, sir... for your hospitality.

The evening has been most illuminating.

Good night to you, sir.

You know, gentlemen... you yearn for victory, just as I do.

But achieved with the apparent effortlessness of gods.

Yours are the archaic values of the prep school playground.

You deceive no one but yourselves.

I believe in the pursuit of excellence... and I'll carry the future with me.

Well, there goes your Semite, Hugh.

A different god.

A different mountain top.

Harold! Harold! We're in.

All of us! You, Henry, Andy and me, we're all in!

You 100 and 200, Andy 400 and hurdles...

Henry the mile, and me the steeplechase.

Paris, here we come!

Eric Liddell's picked too.

Rivals under the same flag.

Your chance to get even, eh?

I can't wait.

Welcome to Dover, my Lord Birkenhead.

Lord Birkenhead, are the Yanks so well trained... that they'll wipe the floor with our boys?

It's certainly true that the Americans have prepared seriously... some would say too seriously, to gain success.

But we feel we may, in our unsophisticated way, have their match.

Sir, do you think the British team stand a chance... against such great American athletes as Charlie Paddock and Jackson Scholz?

You Americans have a number of men who are rated as world-beaters... but this contest is in Europe, not in the rarefied climes of the United States.

Parisian conditions are bound to be more robust... more combative and certainly more cavalier.

Lord Birkenhead, are the Yanks so well trained... that they will wipe the floor with our boys?

Gentlemen, Abrahams, Liddell and Lindsay...

We have the men who could give them a run for their money.


Sandy! You haven't come all the way from Scotland just to see me off, have you?

I have not. I'm seeing myself off.

Come on, or we'll miss the boat.

Hey, Mr Liddell! What do you think of your chances against Abrahams?

I'll do my best. Can do no less.

Mr Liddell, sir!

What about the qualifying heats on Sunday?

What did you say? On Sunday!

Do you think you can beat the Americans?

There's Mr Abrahams! There he is!

Mr Abrahams! Sorry, I've no time...

Hello, Jeremy.

Gilbert and Sullivan will win. Thanks very much.

Harold! Sybil.

I came to wish you luck. I'm glad.

I understand. I wanted you to know that.

I'll be here when you come back.

Hurry along, Mr Abrahams. She's about to sail!

I must go. I'll see you in three weeks.


Mind your step, sir. We want you to get there in one piece.

When did you get to know? Did you not read the papers this morning?

The heats for the 100 are on the Sunday after the opening ceremony... the semis and final a couple of days after.

It's only a heat.

Does it make all that difference?


Yeah, it does.

And strong though the temptation may be... to disport your newly acquired finery around the streets of Paris... if they aren't temptation enough... may I ask you on behalf of the Olympic Committee... to save your sartorial splendour... until at least after the opening ceremony.

May I remind you... you are the favoured few.

You constitute what is without doubt... the most powerful athletic force ever to leave these shores.

You are to face the world's best... brown and yellow, white and black... young and ardent as yourselves... fleet of foot and strong of limb... from every civilised nation on the face of the earth.

I have no doubt... that you will acquit yourselves honourably and... with distinction.

Good luck to you all.

Your mind's not with us any more.

It's full of sprinting and starting and medals and pace.

It's so full of it, you've no room for standing still!

Jennie, Jennie! Don't fret yourself.

I do fret myself, Eric. I'm frightened for you.

I'm frightened what it all might do to you.

- Do you know what day it is? - Yeah. Sunday.

The Sabbath's not a day for playing football, is it?

It's an awful step you're taking, Liddell.

The whole of Britain will be watching you.

I don't know that they'll understand.

I'm not sure that I understand.

I'm not sure that I do either, sir.

For the last three years I've devoted myself to my running... just to be on this ship.

I gave up my rugby.

My work has suffered.

And I've deeply hurt someone I hold very dear.

Because I told myself... if I win, I win for God.

And now I find myself sitting here, destroying it all.

But I have to.

To run would be against God's law.

I was mistaken.

My boy - as things stand, you must not run.

But I want you to hold your fire for a while, Liddell.

Leave everything to me.

Say nothing. Wait until we get to Paris.

I'll have a word with the French.

I'm not without a certain pull... and we fought in the war together.

They do owe us something.

I don't understand.

They're not a very principled lot, the Frogs.

But, when faced with a stand like yours... one never knows.

I might get through.

I just might possibly persuade them.

The French, sir?

What can they do?

Shift that bloody heat of yours, of course.

Good evening.

Good night, sir.

♪ With cat-like tread

♪ Upon our prey we steal

♪ In silence dread

♪ Our cautious way we feel

♪ No sound at all

♪ We never speak a word

♪ A fly's footfall would be distinctly heard

♪ Come friends, who plough the sea

♪ Truce to navigation

♪ Take another station

♪ Let's vary piracy

♪ With a little burglary

I wish you could see, Ma, the wonderful spirit abroad now we've left home.

Harold on the piano with his beloved Gilbert and Sullivan.

We're all laughing and relaxing, chatting about anything but running.

We're here for Britain and we know it.

I'm here for you, Ma.

You and Pa. I hope I do you proud.

There's not a chap amongst us... who isn't ready to burst his heart for all we've left behind.


"American champions arrive in France."

There's Paddock.

Charles Paddock.

There's Fitch. My God!

And there's Scholz.

Yes, that's Scholz all right.

A bit more my size. Mean with it, though.


Got your plate full there, Harold.

Battle on your hands, what!

Charles H Paddock... and Jackson Scholz.

The fastest men in the world.

Push it!

Come on, that's more like it!

One, two! One, two! One, two!

Come on now!

Keep doin' it like that, come on!

Hey, Scholzy!

Nous jurons être venus à ces huitièmes Olympiades... animés par le respect des règlements qui les gouvernent... et désireux de participer... pour la gloire de nos pays... et à I'honneur du sport.

Amour sacré de la Patrie

Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs!

Liberté, Liberté chérie

Combats avec tes défenseurs!

Combats avec tes défenseurs!

Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire Good luck, Andy. Good luck, Harry.


Silence! ہ vos marques!


Your Royal Highness, may I introduce Mr Tom Watson, representing New Zealand.

How do you do? You've come a long way.

I'm from Oxford, sir. They wrote to me.

Said as I was over here, I might as well take part.

Economical. But can you run? I'll give it a try, sir.

That's the spirit. Best of luck to you. Thank you, sir.

The royal benediction, no less.

The chap's invaluable. Hear, hear! Henry V and all that.

Protocol, Monty. Protocol.

He's here to show us what may be done - and more essentially, what may not be.

Jackson Scholz. How do you do?

I'm Eric Liddell.

Well, we've heard a lot about you.


Excuse me.

I was afraid you weren't here.

I'm afraid I am, sir.

Fine. Do you good.

Take you out of yourself a bit.

The Prince of Wales would like to meet you.


No. No, sir.

It wouldn't be right.

Liddell... he is your future king.

Are you refusing to shake his hand?

Does your arrogance extend that far?

My arrogance, sir, extends just as far as my conscience demands.


Then let's hope that's wise enough to give you room for manoeuvre.

All right, sir.

Splendid. I'll take you to him now.

Your Royal Highness, may I present Mr Eric Liddell?

Delighted, Liddell. Delighted.

I saw you play for Scotland. It depressed me no end.

Ran in a couple of tries from your own half.

I believe I did, sir, yes.

Nice to have you on the same side at last.

Excellent effort of Lindsay's, don't you think?

He did well, sir. He did indeed. An example to us all.

Eric, may I introduce His Grace the Duke of Sutherland... president of our Olympic Association?

How do you do? And our chairman, Lord Cadogan.

Have a seat.

Make yourself comfortable.


Oh, no, of course. You don't. Nor drink.

Such is the resolution of the young man you have before you, gentlemen.

Lord Birkenhead has advised us as to your attitude... towards your participation in the 100-metres heats, Liddell.

Or would your non-participation be more accurate?

It would, sir, yes.

We were also consulted as to how we should approach the French.

Something we can't allow, going cap in hand to the Frogs, of all people!

Simply out of the question.

A simple matter of national dignity. Being a patriot, I'm sure you understand.

I must say, sir, I felt it was an impractical suggestion.

Why didn't you damn well say so?

As an athlete, you value economy of effort.

I wanted to run. I was desperate enough to try anything.

Well, all that being understood... we decided to invite you in for a little chat... to see if there's any way we can help resolve the situation.

There's only one solution. That's for this man to change his mind and run.

Don't state the obvious, Cadogan.

We've to explore ways in which we can help this young man to reach that decision.

I'm afraid there are no ways, sir.

I won't run on the Sabbath and that's final.

I intended to confirm this with Lord Birkenhead tonight... even before you called me up before this inquisition.

Don't be impertinent.

The impertinence lies with those who seek to influence a man to deny his beliefs.

On the contrary, Liddell. We're appealing to your beliefs.

In your country and your king. Your loyalty to them.

Hear, hear. In my day, it was king first, God after.

And the war to end wars bitterly proved your point.

God made countries. God makes kings... and the rules by which they govern.

And those rules say that the Sabbath is his.

And I for one intend to keep it that way.

Mr Liddell.

You're a child of your race... as I am.

We share a common heritage, a common bond, a common... loyalty.

There are times when we are asked to make sacrifices... in the name of that loyalty... and without them our allegiance is worthless.

As I see it, for you... this is such a time.


God knows, I love my country.

But I can't make that sacrifice.

Come in!

Your Royal Highness... Lord Lindsay.

Your Highness, Cadogan, gentlemen.

I do apologise for barging in like this.

The fact is I am fully aware of Eric's dilemma.

I wondered if I could be so bold as to suggest a possible solution.



Another day, another race.

What the devil's that supposed to mean?

It's quite simple as a matter of fact, sir.

The 400 metres. It's on Thursday.

I've already got my medal.

So why don't you let Eric take my place in the quarter?

I think that's a splendid idea.

Can we allow him to change events at such short notice?

That's a matter for the committee.

We are the committee.

I think it's a very good idea.


All those in favour say aye.



Andy, I... A pleasure, old chap.

Just to see you run.


Well, that's settled.

A sticky moment, George.

Thank God for Lindsay. I thought the lad had us beaten.

He did have us beaten, FE.

And thank God he did. I don't quite follow you.

The lad, as you call him, is a true man of principle... and a true athlete.

His speed is a mere extension of his life, its force.

We sought to sever his running from himself.

For his country's sake, yes.

No sake is worth that, FE.

Least of all a guilty national pride.

"Lindsay makes way for Liddell."

"400 metres for defecting Scot."

"'Smacks of fanaticism, ' says official."

"'Man of principle, ' says primate."

"We should be proud."

So that's the Olympic Stadium. That's it, Sam.

It's as good as being in there, isn't it?

Better! Seeing as I'm persona non grata.


It's tiptop, Mr Abrahams. You've done a grand job.

If we don't win now, we never will.

Have I got everything, Sam? Everything you need?



All we need now is Sunday.

My text this afternoon is taken from Isaiah, chapter 40.


The nations are as a drop in the bucket... and are counted as the small dust in the balance.

All nations before him are as nothing.

They are counted to him less than nothing... and vanity.

He bringeth the princes to nothing.

He maketh the judges of the earth as a vanity.

Hast thou not known?

Hast thou not heard... that the everlasting God, the Lord... the creator of the ends of the earth... fainteth not... neither is weary?


Oldest con in the business.

I know, Sam.

He giveth power to the faint... and to them that have no strength... he increaseth might.

But they that wait upon the Lord... shall renew their strength.

They shall mount up... with wings, as eagles.

They shall run... and not be weary.

They shall walk... and not faint.

Do you remember when we first bumped into each other, old man?

We shared a taxi, remember?

You made me feel... an age old, burdened, sour...

Even superior.

That was the miscalculation of my life.

You, Aubrey... are my most complete man.

You're brave... compassionate... kind.

A content man.

That's your secret.


I'm 24 and I've never known it.

I'm forever in pursuit and I don't even know what it is I'm chasing.

Aubrey, old chap, I'm scared.

Sam and I, we've laboured, rowed and bullied for this.

Day in, day out.

You've seen us - chuckled over us, I'll be bound.

Out in all weathers.


And for what?

I was beaten out of sight in the 200.

Then I let Paddock trick me in the semi.

Now, in one hour's time, I'll be out there again.

I'll raise my eyes and look down that corridor... four-feet wide with ten lonely seconds to justify my whole existence.

But will I?

Aubrey, I've known the fear of losing.

But now I'm almost too frightened to win.

Dear Mr Abrahams.

You must please pardon my not coming to see you run... much as I would like to do so.

However, I believe and hope you will win... the 100 metres.

Go out determined to do your best.

And don't forget... drop down at the first stride.

Get well warmed up... and then let the gun release you.

I should use the springy old six-spike shoes.

All the best of luck.

From yours truly, Sam Mussabini.

PS. Please accept the charm.

My old father swore by it.

No regrets, Eric, that you're not down there with them?


No doubts, though.

Your Royal Highness, may I present Mr Bowman of the United States?

Mr Bowman.

Mr Murchison. Mr Murchison.

And Mr Watson of New Zealand I believe you know.

Oh, yes, Mr Watson. How are you? Very well, sir.


Mr Paddock. Mr Paddock.

Dinner for your whole team at my club when we get back to London.

Now if you win, I pay, Abrahams wins, you pay, all right?

Sir, you have yourself a deal.


The best of luck to you. And to you, sir.

Mr Scholz. Scholz.

And this is our Harold Abrahams.

Good luck, Abrahams. Thank you, sir.

Do your best. That's all we can expect.

Good luck, Abrahams. Thank you, sir.

Come on, Charlie!

Charlie, Charlie, rah rah rah!


Head down.

Watch the first stride.

Go for release.

Premier... numéro 419.

Abrahams, Grande Bretagne.

Temps, 10 secondes, trois cinquièmes.

Second, 74.

Scholz, ةtats Unis.


My son.

Harold! Ssh, ssh, ssh!

Leave him be. The poor fella's whacked.

But he won! Exactly.

One of these days, Monty, you're going to win yourself.

And it's pretty difficult to swallow.

Come in.

Mrs Abrahams just rang, miss.

The Daily Express. They've been on from Paris.

Mr 'Arold. He won!

She told me to tell you he won!

Thank you very much, Bill.

Oh, it's 15 minutes to curtain-up, miss.

He did it, sir.

Thank you, Matthews.

"Abrahams triumphant."

"Caius College athlete wins blue riband at Games."

Just as I expected.

Yes, you've always thought of yourself as a ruthless man. Hard.

Bit of a loner, like me.

But actually, you're as soft as a limp pocket.

Oh, you care.

Care about things that really matter.

If you didn't, I wouldn't have come within a mile of you.

Do you know who you won for out there today?


You and old Sam Mussabini.

I've waited 30 bloody years for this.

Pardon, messieurs. Il faut partir maintenant.

Il est trois heures du matin.



It means the world to me, this, you know.

And if all the world can do... is to want to go home to bed, then they can go to hell!

Because we've had today... you and me... and we've got it for keeps.

So now it's out o' yer system... go home to that girl o' yours and start some bloody living.


To Sam Mussabini. Oh.

The greatest trainer in the world.


Tell him. Get some more.

Come on, Sam. We're going home.

The final of the 400 metres.

Taylor. ةtats Unis.

Numéro 278.

Good luck. Don't expect I'll see you till after the race.

What's the deal with this guy Liddell? Is he a problem?

No problem. He's a flyer.

He's had two races today already. He'll die.

Just swing along, you guys, and wait.

After 300 metres, rigor mortis sets in.

You'll pull him in on a rope.

Good luck, Taylor.

Watch out for Liddell. Coach says no problem.

He's got something personal to prove.

Something guys like Coach'll never understand.

Excuse me.



It says in the Old Book, "He that honours me...

I will honour."

"Good luck. Jackson Scholz."

ہ vos marques!


So where does the power come from... to see the race to its end?

From within.

Come on, Liddell!


I believe God made me for a purpose.

But he also made me fast.

And when I run...

I feel his pleasure.

Premier, Liddell. Grande Bretagne.

47 secondes, trois cinquièmes.

Nouveau record olympique et mondial amateur.

And did those feet in ancient time

Walk upon England's mountains green?

♪ And was the Holy Lamb of God

♪ On England's pleasant pastures seen?

♪ And did the countenance divine

♪ Shine forth upon our clouded hills?

♪ And was Jerusalem builded here

♪ Among those dark satanic mills?

Well, Andy. He did it.

Hm? What's that, old boy?