Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Chariots of Fire and Eric Liddell


In the Episcopal church, we have a calendar of Saints.  Today's feast day is the day to remember Eric Liddell.  You might remember his name from the movie, "Chariots of Fire".   Many movies are just meant for entertainment and they seem to portray people in a more favorable light, but in this case,  they must have been hard pressed to make the moviemakers even believe how good he really was...

Eric Liddell (and it is pronounced as it it rhymes with middle) was actually born in China of Scottish missionaries.  He excelled in athletics and was not only good at track but was also very good at rugby and had to make a choice between the two since he didn't have time for both.
As depicted in the movie, "Chariots of Fire", he won a gold medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics in the men's 400 metres...which really was not his best race.  He was predicted to win in the 100 metres, but refused to do so since it was scheduled for a Sunday.  (He knew this beforehand but in the movie, they depict it as if he only found out about it just the day before.  To me, it makes it even more startling, since he had even more pressure upon him to make this race ...and he still refused.)
Eric Liddell returned to China to work as a Christian missionary and also worked with his brother, who was a doctor.  He married a Canadian woman who was also there with her missionary parents but he had her leave (with their two young daughters and she was pregnant with a third)  when  World War II broke out.  He was imprisoned in an internment camp and was an inspiration to all who knew him. It was discovered only recently that he could have been released but he gave up that place to another person, a pregnant woman.   Eric Liddell died on Feb. 21, 1945.   Langdon Gilkey, one of those in the camp with him, had this to say about him: " He was overflowing with good humour and love for life and with enthusiasm and charm.  It is rare indeed that a person has the good fortune to meet a saint, but he came as close to it as anyone I have ever known."   It pleases me that my church honors him on the Calendar of Saints.

If you have never seen the movie "Chariots of Fire", please watch it.  You can also watch actual scenes of Eric Liddell on Youtube and you will be amazed at how perfectly the actor portrayed him, with his head thrown back and arms flailing at his sides.  I tried very hard to get a clip on here from Youtube and it is "Chariots of Fire - Where Does the Power Come From?"  Just type that in on Youtube and please watch it...I really have worked to get that on here but I've not been able to do so!   I have heard that there is a movie in the works about what happened after "Chariots of Fire", if anyone hears anything else about it, please let me know!    Oh, can you tell that this movie is one of my absolute FAVORITES?  It is!

17 comments:

  1. I keep saying that I don't like/watch movies and yet keep being reminded of ones that I have seen and enjoyed over the years. This was certainly one of them. Apart from the acting and story it is worth watching for the music by Vangelis.

    I like it when modern people are recognised by the church. They seem so much more real than many of the early saints whose life stories are dubious to say the least. They bring the church to life and make Christianity seem more appropriate to today.

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    1. It is a beautiful film from start to finish.
      I also like the music although some people tell me now that they find it oddly placed since it is so obviously 1980's music, but I don't agree with them.

      Our calendar of Saints is hardly ever mentioned, only sometimes in a sermon do you ever hear of it but I think we need to know more about the lives of people who are such good examples.

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  2. I've seen Chariots of Fire a couple of times and loved it. My husband is a runner so he especially loved it.

    Thank you for telling us more about Eric Liddell. It's so very interesting and wonderful to know. It's such a good feeling to know about the good in people.

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    1. Dear Kay,
      It's funny, I love this movie so much and I am about as far away as being a runner as anyone you would ever meet! :-)
      I love to read about inspirational people!

      Kay, I am sure that I am down as one of your followers but you don't come up on my dashboard...I will have to work on it and see why! :-)

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  3. I won't tell you how many times I've seen Chariots, Kay...suffice to say I know it by heart! Really sad to note that both Ian Charleson (who played Liddell) & Brad Davis ( who was the US runner Jacson Scholtz) both died way too early as a result of AIDS. Terrible loss of two fine actors. X

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    1. Dear Rachel,
      Oh dear, I too know Chariots of Fire BY HEART! I wonder...do you know The Sound of Music by heart too? I might have to do a post on that one! (And I suspect we both know Robin Hood by heart too, right?)
      Yes, I know both of those actors died of AIDS, so terribly sad...

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  4. Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how long it's been since I last saw Chariots of Fire. What an inspiring story of Eric Liddell; a true hero.

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    1. Dear Martha,
      My son, the film major, really likes this movie too!
      Has your daughter seen it?

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    2. I don't know. I'm going to have to ask her.

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  5. What an incredibly selfless act, to give up his chance of freedom so that another could go free. There wouldn't be many who could act that bravely.
    Really interesting post.

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    1. Dear Tracey,
      Thanks! And I hope if you haven't seen the movie, you will now!:-)

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  6. I went to YouTube and watched "Where does the power come from?" love how the sun comes out at the end - a nice touch :) I haven't seen this movie in many years and I guess it's time for another viewing. It's a inspiring story and even more so when you realize what an upstanding, selfless man Eric Liddell was.

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    1. Dear Jane,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to look at that! I really tried to get that on my blog but was unable to do so, am really happy that you watched it.
      If you hear anything about a new film coming out about him, please let me know. Since his daughters are Canadian, you might know before I do!

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  7. First of all, I just read Rachel's comment. I didn't know this. So, so sad.

    I love this movie. It was one of the first DVDs we ever bought, along with Big. I just watched it again last year, and was so taken with it. Very touching to read about the life of EL afterwards.

    I'm impressed with the 'calendar of saints.' I've not heard of it. I really should get to church more. :<)

    I just read more here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar_of_saints_(Episcopal_Church_in_the_United_States_of_America)

    and especially liked this: 'The Episcopal Church does not canonize individuals, holding instead that all baptized Christians are saints of God and have the potential to be examples of faith to others.'

    Just like the song!, which I actually posted about once on the blog:

    http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2007/11/i-sing-song.html

    Thanks so much for this.

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    1. Dear Nan,
      SO FUNNY,we just watched BIG again two days ago!!

      It pleases me so much that you liked this post! I wanted to write a bit more about the Calendar of Saints, so I am glad that you included that quote above. Thank you!

      Off to look for your song that you posted on your blog!

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  8. Great post! I He was a true hero of the faith, that is for sure.

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    1. Hey Connie!
      I just saw your comment here. And I thank you for it.

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