Chariots of Fire Hugh Hudson

Along comes a new two-disc reissue of a film that history has marked more because of its cheesy synth score than for its memorable filmmaking. For those who don't remember Chariots of Fire, the earnest British production took home a pram-full of awards at the 1982 Oscars, and other than mocking the overwrought Vangelis score and young Brits running on the beach, very few people have thought of it since. Turns out there's a good reason why: the film, while lovely to look at and competently constructed, needs a little airing out in this day and age. Its British stuffiness is almost overwhelming. It follows the true story of two British runners — a Christian and a Jew — who both competed for England in the 1924 Olympics. Religion played a key factor in both their lives, and for more than two hours in ours as well. It's good playful fun in the Oxford tradition, which means the boys are mischievous but honourable, and attain a status of humble royalty by the end. You'll be so distracted by the beauty of it all, I'm sure it won't be diminished by the loud snoring around you. This two-disc reissue at least maintains its tone and approach throughout, including some very polite discussions on making the film (actually a very independent production that didn't initially find open arms in North America), and some jolly good reminiscences in a reunion featurette. And Vangelis's "innovative" synth score? It may have been a bold choice at the time, but the clash between the very dated synth programming and the period it scores seems all the more jarring now. Not to mention that no one will ever again run on a beach without hearing it in their head. Plus: director's commentary, alternate scenes, screen tests. (Warner)