Close this search box.

296: Chariots of Fire with Keep the Flame Alive

This summer, the 2014 Summer Olympics return to Paris, France for the first time since the 1924 games that were shown in the classic movie Chariots of Fire. So in our first episode of 2024, we’ll look forward to warmer days as Jill and Alison from my favorite Olympics/Paralympics podcast join us to dig into the true story behind Chariots of Fire.

Follow Keep the Flame Alive Podcast

Listen to the audio version

Did you enjoy this episode? Help support the next one!

Buy me a coffeeBuy me a coffee

Disclaimer: Dan LeFebvre and/or Based on a True Story may earn commissions from qualifying purchases through our links on this page.


Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things better in the audio.

Dan LeFebvre: Before we dive into some of the details, let’s take a step back, look at the movie from an overall perspective. If you were to give Chariots of Fire a letter grade for its historical accuracy, what would it get? And Jill, let’s start with you.

[00:02:21] Jill Jaracz: I’d give it a C minus. It could be lower if they didn’t get some of the details right.

We’re really good in this movie with getting the truce. Accurate. How they got to those truths is, there’s a lot of stuff wrong in this

[00:02:37] Alison Brown: movie. I’m probably being overly generous because I do adore this movie. So I was wavering between a B and a B minus, simply because I think they get the spirit of the story very accurate.

They get the spirit of the characters. A lot of the details are fuzzy. I’m being kind, but there’s a reason, to make the story more cinematic. They did need to compress time and they did need to give it more drive.

[00:03:11] Dan LeFebvre: Yeah. And that makes sense. It is a movie for entertainment and that’s something that I hear a lot is they got the kind of the, some of the key points, but how they connect those dots, of course, again, it’s a movie and they got to compress time and they got to.

Add or remove characters or whatever is needed for entertainment purposes to hit some of those high points so it makes perfect sense.

[00:03:31] Jill Jaracz: You know when we watch some movies sometimes they’re so inaccurate that the main facts that they get right is there is an event called the Olympics and it did happen in the year, we’re better than that on Chariots of Fire, but, not a ton.


[00:03:47] Alison Brown: definitely grading on a curve when it comes to Olympic movies.

[00:03:51] Dan LeFebvre: I get that. I get that. I get that. There’s been some movies I’ve seen where the text that they have at the end and a lot of movies, they even got that wrong. It’s like where it’s like you were just typing it out and they still got it wrong.

So yeah. Yeah. It happens.

[00:04:04] Alison Brown: wE’ll get to that, right? Because you we want to talk

[00:04:06] Dan LeFebvre: about the text at the end. We’ll get to that. We’ll get to that. But in the movie, there are a number of characters that it follows. Harold Abrahams and Eric Little are the two main characters, but there’s also Lord Andrew Lindsay, Aubrey Montague, and Henry Stallard.

And they’re all runners. The movie backs up to the year 1919 to show them meeting at the University of Cambridge. Or maybe they didn’t all meet there because we see Harold arriving in university along with Aubrey Montague. We’re all of these actually real people who met at Cambridge,

[00:04:34] Alison Brown: And the big one is Andrew Lindsay is not a real person, but he’s based on Lord Burley.

Because David Burley did not like. inaccuracies in the movie and did not allow his name to be used. So they created Lord Andrew Lindsay, who’s actually my favorite character in the whole movie. The others that you mentioned are accurate. However, Aubrey Montague did not go to Cambridge. He went to Oxford and he and Harold became friends.

Later, but that relationship between the two was accurate. They were very close. They were dear friends for the rest of their lives afterwards. So that’s what I mean where I say they get the spirit, right? But not all the details.

[00:05:25] Dan LeFebvre: yEah, that makes sense. That’s interesting that they, a lot of times they’ll, in movies, they put multiple people together to then become a composite character of one, but it sounds like it was still one to one, but just it’s an interesting, a fascinating reason to change their name.

It makes sense if they’re not happy with it.

[00:05:44] Alison Brown: He was the only one of them, I believe, that was still alive at the point when the movie was being made. So he was really the only one they had to work with. Worry about getting any kind of permissions or avoiding lawsuits. And he said no. And then after he saw the movie, he was sorry.

He was sorry that he had his name removed.

[00:06:05] Dan LeFebvre: So he hadn’t even seen the movie when they talked about when he said that there was not accurate,

[00:06:10] Alison Brown: right? It was actually the great came the run at the beginning of the movie. Because Burley was the first man to actually do that, not Abrams, not until 1928.

And that inaccuracy made him so mad that he said, you can’t use my name. And then he was sorry, I think because of that catching the spirit of those absolutely amazing men of the time.

[00:06:39] Dan LeFebvre: Speaking of Cambridge, one of the things that we see happen almost right away is something called the College Dash, and the movie explains it as a race where you go from beneath the clock, around the perimeter of the court, the university, and the time it takes for the clock to chime midday.

The movie says it’s a distance of 188 paces, something no one has ever completed in over 700 years, and then we see Harold complete the challenge. Almost as soon as he arrives at Cambridge, was Harold really the first person in 700 or some years to complete the college dash at Cambridge?

[00:07:11] Jill Jaracz: He never tried to do the college dash, first off, so that’s an inaccuracy there.

Also, the movie could not get permission to film at Cambridge, so what isn’t exactly what it’s going to look like in real life. And they do have this great court run still, but one of the interesting things is that, The time depends on how the bells are doing that day, and sometimes in different types of weather, they’ll ring faster or slower.

So it’s, you never quite know what you’re going to get.

[00:07:47] Dan LeFebvre: That has to be frustrating.

[00:07:52] Jill Jaracz: I Think it does. I think why they put it in, in A, the wrong year and B, making Abrams do it, is to establish that runner. With intense speed that can do things that no other man has technically not done before it. If you’re going to go by the history of this movie, so it does help.

Yeah, it does help establish him as a character of, it helps establish him as a runner who’s a lot who’s really

[00:08:21] Dan LeFebvre: fast. Yeah. Can I setting him apart from everybody else right away?

[00:08:26] Alison Brown: I think it also sets us time and place very well. This Cambridge world of that post World War I era. So we get a real feel of the place with that court run.

[00:08:39] Dan LeFebvre: There is another person that we see in the movie Ian Holmes character, Sam Musabini and. When Harold hires Sam, it really starts to stir up some controversy. There’s a scene in the movie where Harold is talking to a character. It’s simply cast as the master of Caius, one of the colleges at Cambridge.

And he tells Harold that this university believes that the way of the amateur is the only one to provide satisfactory results. And he goes on to tell Harold there’s too much of an individualistic mindset, a team spirit. Harold denies this. But then again, we don’t see any of the other runners really seem to have A trainer, was the movie accurate to suggest that Cambridge leadership didn’t like Harold hiring a trainer?

[00:09:20] Alison Brown: I think that an interesting true fact is Eric Little introduced Sam Mussolini to Harold Abrams. So he, Musabini was well known in the field. In fact Albert Hill, who was a great British runner from 1920, also trained with Musabini. So Musabini was traveling around these circles. Now, would it have been likely, we don’t know this factually, that Cambridge authorities probably didn’t like that professional aspect, probably not, they wanted this ideal of the gentleman amateur athlete.

So having these outsider coaches may have been frowned upon, but it was pretty standard at the time, but I think done quietly.

[00:10:13] Dan LeFebvre: And when I was watching that, it made sense to me that they would have a trainer. And so it threw me off that. I guess it’s a different time period, but also like athletes have trainers and they have coaches.

They have people that help them.

[00:10:25] Jill Jaracz: You had this paradox of the Olympics at that time being for amateurs and by that they mean rich men, probably white and that it’s hard to see that as you go through history, this, Insistence that sport be for amateurs and the Olympics be an amateur sport and just going on talent when really the Olympics were a lot of, who’s got the money, who’s got the, who’s got the money to be able to afford to have the time off to train and you do need some kind of coach to train at those levels and you, when you get further and further in, in Olympic history, you start seeing where money goes under the table to pay people And in all of the sham of amateurism until it kind of shatters in 1992 when professional athletes, namely the dream team, NBA players were allowed to start playing in the


[00:11:29] Dan LeFebvre: So taking us back to that time period went with the Olympics being amateur, was it? Cause I, I think of Olympic athletes these days, we think of them pretty much training 24, seven, like they’re that’s what they’re, that’s what they do. So then were there people who weren’t allowed in the Olympics because they were professionals then, like they were prohibited.

[00:11:52] Alison Brown: Oh, absolutely. Jim Thorpe was stripped of his medals.

[00:11:57] Dan LeFebvre: Oh, wow. So he’s allowed in, but then stripped.

[00:11:58] Alison Brown: Wow. In this same a little bit earlier, but same idea, time period. And because he had played professional baseball in the Bush leagues and the idea of earning money from from any kind of sport was frowned upon by Olympic officials.

The idea was you had to be this gentleman athlete, this person who only pursued sport for the pursuit of excellence, not to make money from it.

[00:12:30] Dan LeFebvre: Wow, that’s, yeah, that’s a very different mindset than I think of today.

[00:12:35] Jill Jaracz: aNd we see it doesn’t

[00:12:36] Dan LeFebvre: really work. You’re not going to get the best of the best, like you can’t, you just think of, you got to put food on the table, you got to pay bills, you got to make money somehow.


[00:12:43] Jill Jaracz: if and Yeah and as you go along and in time again where athletes are in the army or they have a police job where they get paid and their job during the day is really to go work out and train for the games and that in different countries all throughout time. And because it’s impossible to do the ironically Paris 1924 is when the Olympic motto was first launched, city is salty as 40th, which is faster, higher, stronger.

How are you going to get faster, higher, and stronger if you don’t spend? More time or more quality time working out. Yeah,

[00:13:22] Dan LeFebvre: with trainers.

[00:13:25] Jill Jaracz: Or

[00:13:25] Alison Brown: glasses of champagne balanced on your hurdles. tHat takes money to be able to train

[00:13:31] Dan LeFebvre: like that. Yes, I would just do water, but

If we go back into the movie, we do see Harold and The other guys go to a play and he is smitten with one of the actresses there named Sybil. He asks her out and the two seem to hit it off. How well does the movie do showing the way that Harold and Sybil met?

[00:13:52] Alison Brown: Oh, they are so wrong. It’s not even the right Sybil.

So Sybil Gordon, who is the character in the movie, Was a famous opera singer and an operetta reformer, but that’s not who Harold got involved with. He actually married Sybil Evers, who was not a star. She was a backup singer for lack of a better word, and he did not get involved with her until 34, 35. But, Harold Abrams was a big fan of Gilbert and Sullivan.

So that part is

[00:14:28] Jill Jaracz: true. But when you look at the movies of the time, you gotta get the ladies in with a love story, apparently. That seems to be one of the elements where Sybil is really the, Besides Eric Little’s sister, there’s only two female characters in the whole movie, and if you put in this love story it, it is a vehicle that allows different things to happen.

There is that.

[00:14:54] Dan LeFebvre: That, that is a great point, and I guess since we were talking about the Olympics being a different time, Were there women’s running and women’s sports

[00:15:05] Jill Jaracz: there? There were some women’s sports, but not a ton. We’re getting into a period of time where, of course, because the men of the International Olympic Committee also.

Did not like women, specifically Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern American modern Olympic movement really did not like women. So women were there in smaller sports or smaller events. We get a kind of after Paris. There’s A women’s movement that has their own Olympics, they call them the women’s Olympics, and they were very popular for a few years.

And then the international Olympic committee saw the threat and said, what, why don’t you ladies come in with our event? So they could shut that down. So you’re getting into an area where some women are there in different capacities, but not a ton.

[00:15:57] Dan LeFebvre: Wow. Yeah, I didn’t even think about that watching the movie then until you brought that up.

[00:16:01] Jill Jaracz: You do see women marching in with the teams and that’s interesting. But yeah there’s just no, no focus on women in this time.

[00:16:11] Dan LeFebvre: evEn though it was the wrong Sybil, she mentions that her brother is a big fan of Harold’s and that makes me think that Harold had already made a name for himself in the sport.

Did a lot of people know who he was even before he became an Olympian? No. No. No. No.

[00:16:25] Alison Brown: He was an Olympian in 1920. Oh, okay. Which this movie leaves out entirely. And he had two brothers who were Olympians in 1912. hE was a rather well known athlete at the time.

[00:16:40] Dan LeFebvre: Yeah, the movie just completely omits those Olympics.

[00:16:43] Alison Brown: Yeah, 1920 doesn’t exist because the movie does start in 1919. And we have this little 1920 Olympics that happened, but not in this world. That’s the story they wanted to tell. The 20 Olympics would have been a distraction in the arc of the story. So I see. Why they did it. And I know I’m so forgiving because I love this movie.

[00:17:05] Jill Jaracz: And Abrams didn’t do particularly well in those Olympics. He did not medal. So it makes sense to if we’re going to start with him as one of the best sprinters in the world, let’s ignore the fact that. He had a middling performance at the game at his first Olympics and let’s just focus on the good part

[00:17:28] Alison Brown: so that

[00:17:28] Dan LeFebvre: makes me wonder then was because he if he didn’t do well and then 1920 Olympics was that why he hired a trainer then to try to get better and.

24 or had he already hired Musabini before that, or just what was the timeline on that?

[00:17:42] Alison Brown: No, Musabini came after 1920. So it is likely, we don’t really have a lot of what was in Harold Abrams mind. He wasn’t, he was a typical Brit of the day and didn’t share his inner thoughts. But, Likely, it would have been he hired Mussabini because he wanted to do better next time around and do better than his brothers.

So he wanted to have that achievement for 24. We

[00:18:07] Dan LeFebvre: are at the point in the movie where the runners go to the Olympics in these 1924 Olympics. But before we talk about the events there. How well do you think the movie did just transporting us back to 1924 for the Olympics in Paris?

[00:18:20] Jill Jaracz: I thought they did really well.

And one of the details, and a surprising detail that they just nail, is the fact that there is advertising in the stadium. And if any of your listeners followed the Olympics You might notice that the Olympics and since 2020, the Paralympics as well. There is no advertising on the field of play at all.

It is tho these are the only sporting events that you will not see advertising at, and that’s a particular desire of the International Olympic Committee to have this clean field to play and focus on sport. The exception is Paris, 1924, where the organizers said, we’ve got to make some money because we’re still after world war one the 1920 Olympics were, they were a miracle that they happened basically with, they were in Antwerp.

Antwerp had, they, there was no money to put these on, but somehow they still managed to put them on 1924. We’re still in a, Hey, we need some money. So the organizer said, let’s sell advertising and they did and the international Olympic committee said, after those games, we will never have advertising in the stadium again.

So this is the one place where you do see it and it’s really interesting that they do that. The stadium that they use in the movie, it’s not the same stadium, but the stadium that they use still exists and it’s going to be a venue at the 2024 Olympics. This year, it will be the field hockey tournament venue.

[00:19:57] Dan LeFebvre: With no advertising, I’m assuming.

[00:19:59] Alison Brown: With no advertising. I think also the uniforms, the opening ceremonies, the feel of it with the crowd, the way the crowd behaves, is very indicative of sporting events at the time. And the way that they show them training and the way that they show them behaving and the things that they had available in terms of equipment and what the track looked like and how they did things.

There are no starting blocks. They’re digging the holes for their feet. All those things were very accurate. That

[00:20:32] Dan LeFebvre: was something I noticed. Yeah. Digging themselves.

[00:20:33] Jill Jaracz: Yeah, digging themselves and also the ropes marking off the lane lines. That is also an accurate fact from those games. It’s very interesting how all of these little details really work to give you the spirit of what those games were like.

I think I thought they did a really good job in that aspect.

[00:20:53] Dan LeFebvre: Was that only those games then that they used

[00:20:55] Alison Brown: the ropes? It was indicative of the era. I don’t know when that came in and out. I want to say we still saw those. In 28 and 32, but they’re gone by

[00:21:04] Dan LeFebvre: 36. I didn’t know if there was something like the advertising where they change things around, just for this games and then realize, eh, that’s not going to work.

[00:21:11] Alison Brown: Yeah. That was more a question of what international track and field was doing as opposed to what the Olympics were doing. But one note I want to make about the advertiser is that the advertisements that they use in the movie, if you look at pictures from 24. They even got the ads themselves, right? They really copied that perfectly.

So certain details they were absolutely dead on about.

[00:21:39] Dan LeFebvre: I’m going to have to go back and look at the ads now and see what they see, which ones they are. Cause Again, it’s something where I’m just used to seeing ads all the time. And so it’s one of those things where it’s, I didn’t really think a lot about

[00:21:51] Jill Jaracz: that.

And when the first time I saw this movie, which I only saw it for the first time a few years ago, I of course grew up with the music and the movie, if you’re of a certain age, but I didn’t watch the whole thing until a few years ago. And that was one of the details that stuck out to me.

Was this advertising? And I thought, Oh, man, they put product placement in this movie, not really realizing that. No, there was actually advertising at the time, but they did. They did a great job with that. One of the

[00:22:21] Dan LeFebvre: things we see throughout the movie is Eric Little’s dedication to his Christian beliefs.

It culminates during the Olympics when he refuses to run on a Sunday. And the way that this plays out in the movie. Makes me think that maybe there’s some Hollywood creative license at play. Not that’s surprising, but there’s a scene in the movie that takes place while the Olympics are taking place where Lord Lindsay tells the committee that he already got a medal.

So maybe he can swap places with little on a 400 meter race because it’s on a Thursday. It’s not like little was ever trying to hide his faith or anything, or that he wasn’t going to run on a Sunday. So it was something that. As I was watching, I was like they could have figured this out a long time beforehand than doing it during the Olympics.

How well did the movie do showing Eric Little’s not wanting to run on Sundays in this swamp? Oh. Oh.

[00:23:08] Jill Jaracz: Okay.

[00:23:09] Alison Brown: Let’s start with the good. Yes. Eric Little did, in fact, refuse to run on Sundays. That was absolutely true because of his faith. However, he didn’t find out as he was getting on the boat to go over there.

The schedule for the Olympics Is even back in those days was published months in advance. So this was a months long discussion. onE thing they did get right was the Prince of Wales at the time did get involved and did actually reach out to Eric Little, but not on the boat many months in advance.

So that swap between the 100 and the 400 was made long before they got to Paris. Little was training. for many months for the 400, knowing he was not going to run, not just in the 100, but also because he was not running in the 100 would not be running in the four by 100 relay. So the whole British team was aware that they were going to have to swap out their relay runners.

So they really, we talked at the very beginning, compress the time for dramatic effect. So that in and of itself is problematic. And then the swap out is problematic because no, you can’t just suddenly run in a different length race a few days before. That’s not going to happen. And Lord Burley, who Lindsay is based on, did not meddle in 24.

So saying, Oh, I’ll just. Give you my race. You can’t do that. You can’t just swap out and exchange athletes in 24. You could certainly do it more easily. Now a particular athlete is assigned that spot. Not the country, because the country, when they get, when they earn a quota spot, then assigns an athlete to that slot.

You can’t just swap them out the way that it was done in the movie. So yeah, there was a lot of problems, but it was a great scene.

[00:25:12] Dan LeFebvre: It was. When you talk about the medals too, I thought it was so just. Casual. He’s I already got my medal. Basically, I’m done with the Olympics now. I got my medal.

I’m good. We can


[00:25:21] Jill Jaracz: Bring the champagne.

[00:25:23] Dan LeFebvre: It’s I’m done. Do, were there any swaps or anything like that? Was that, you said it was. Probably easier back then, but is that something that can happen for any reason?

[00:25:33] Alison Brown: Sometimes people would not be signed up for an event, like a big thing you hear about stories of the Olympics, say, pre World War II, Oh, I just decided to run the marathon.

I’ve never run a marathon before, but let’s do it. And they did, and they’d win a medal. So you hear those stories, and you hear of athletes, Oh, this athlete was injured and Was replaced. Once you get into where we are today, there’s such strict quotas. There’s so many more athletes, so many more countries so much more professionalism in a certain way that if an athlete is, say, injured at the games, an individual athlete, not a team member, you can’t just put somebody else in that slot.

So let’s say the U. S. Has three slots for the 100 meters. They’re assigned to individual athletes. You can’t just give that slot away up to a point, there’s a certain date where your list of entries has to be there and you can’t be swapping it on the boat over, let’s say, but certainly in team sports, obviously, if somebody gets injured, another player on the team can replace that player, but it is a much stricter List of names that’s going to the Olympics then in 1924, so the idea that they could just swap out probably was true then, but it didn’t happen this

[00:27:01] Dan LeFebvre: way because the, the mentality being, we were talking about amateur versus professional, you’re going to have.

Almost a different type of mentality for the athletes going into it. Then we have now where the, the athletes are training all the time all day, every day, pretty much. And so I, I could, yeah, I don’t know when I was watching that, I was just like there’s gotta be some creative license here because even then they had to know.

When the races were going to be it’s not right

[00:27:33] Jill Jaracz: and i think it would have made for a boring film if you had months ahead of time oh we’re gonna meet with you to pressure you to join two months later let’s meet with you again to pressure you to run the one hundred and that would get confusing and it would get boring really quickly so this was a nice way to heighten that drama.

Without and yeah, you took a little license, but you’ve made a better movie out of it.

[00:27:58] Dan LeFebvre: There are two big races near the end of the movie, and the first one is with Harold running a hundred meter race. His coach Sam isn’t there. I thought that was interesting that Sam decided not to go, but instead he sends Harold a letter with a good luck charm.

We don’t see anything about how fast he ran, but we do see him winning. And there’s a shot of Sam hearing God saved the King playing from the stadium where the race happened. So Sam knows that Harold won. How well do you think the movie did portraying Harold’s gold medal victory?

[00:28:28] Jill Jaracz: hE won the gold medal and the race, that the race outcome was correct.

This is the

[00:28:36] Dan LeFebvre: example of there were Olympics and they did, but

[00:28:41] Jill Jaracz: the problem is in 1924 they did not have medal ceremony. So there was no podium. There was no God save the king being played. Harold got his. Metal in the mail. So yeah, it came months later. So the way Sam hears it, obviously that’s something we would not relate to today, or even in the 1980s, we, you just use that as a dramatic license.

We, we know that when you win, you get on a podium and if they hadn’t had that, they would have gone and they didn’t do this in 1924. Are you kidding me? There’s always been a podium at the Olympics. And that would have, I think that would have confused an average audience member even more.

[00:29:25] Dan LeFebvre: That makes sense.

Would that be tied then to you’re saying they. Needed money in 1924. Would that kind of be tied to that? That they didn’t have these extra celebrations,

[00:29:37] Jill Jaracz: right? And a lot of the traditions that we know from the Olympics today are still being developed. So this is the first Olympics with the motto. The Olympics rings it.

It came in just a couple of Olympics. Those were 1912 Allison? So 1912 was the first time we got the Olympic rings and the Olympics started again in 1896. So that’s coming. The torch relay won’t come until, and the torch relay and the cauldron lighting’s not coming until 1936. So a lot of the different things that you see and we take for granted today are still being developed and evolving during this time frame.

[00:30:17] Dan LeFebvre: Okay. Okay. Yeah. I guess I didn’t think about it. Yeah. I just, it’s the Olympics. They’ve got to have a ceremony,

[00:30:25] Jill Jaracz: but in that way, it also makes going back that far really fun to see the evolution of sports. And when you think about even during what’s happened in your lifetime, the evolution of something that’s important to you, how that’s changed. And if you’re in the beginning of say a new sport or a new Activity or the evolution of video games, seeing that history play out and living through that history is really

[00:30:50] Dan LeFebvre: fun and it’s indicative to I think of what elements of it we’ve just become associated with the Olympics.

We just assume that’s going to be there. So If it is more historically accurate and doesn’t have it, we’re going to think it’s wrong. We’re going to think it’s not being historically accurate. And so it’s interesting that decisions that the filmmakers would have to make to what to include, what not to include, what to purposely not include or include.

[00:31:15] Alison Brown: What I think they get so right in that timeframe is the scene of how Harold reacts to his medal. How Harold reacts to his win and in that the locker room scene beforehand, before the race and I didn’t realize it until we started doing our podcast and we spoke to Charlie White, who’s a gold medalist in ice dance.

And he talked about right before he and his partner went out for their final skate, he was thinking to himself, what happens if we just leave the stadium? What happens if I just walk out? Like the pressure was so intense and that feeling was so overwhelming that despite having trained for it for, 20 plus years, he was ready to just walk out the door.

So I think that intense scene, both before and after that race, when he wins, is perfect in a movie making and probably what is in a lot of athletes

[00:32:15] Dan LeFebvre: heads. And I was going to ask about that because we do see Harold after he wins, he just seems Very down, very glum, very, not happy as you would expect after winning gold medal.

[00:32:27] Jill Jaracz: ANd we talk with a lot of Olympians and you hear this after games, there’s a, just a level of depression that happens because they’ve been putting everything they have into this one moment. And when it’s done, what do you do? And especially if it’s not the outcome you wanted, even in Abram’s case, it’s the outcome he wanted.

Now you feel empty because you don’t. You’re just lost and it’s very interesting to see that because as a viewer of the games, I would not think that they would have that impact on a person, but they do and it’s one of the things we’re starting to see people talk a little bit more about now is the post games depression and the post games blues and how do you deal with that and trying to manage that ahead of, yeah.

Trying to get ahead of the eight ball there and managing it so that it’s not as intense.

[00:33:26] Dan LeFebvre: Yeah, that makes sense. And it what we were going back to before to talking about, amateur versus professional. I imagine it would be that would add another level of struggle to it. It’s okay, I won the gold medal, but what.

What can I do with this now? It’s like they can’t be my profession because they won’t allow professionals. And so you be like, what now?

[00:33:46] Jill Jaracz: ANd you get that with athletes in smaller sports today. You’re not going to be a professional rower. You’re not going to be a professional modern pentathlete.

There’s really not that much money in those sports. And so having to have another life to go with it and make sure you have another life when. And build that other life. It can be really hard

[00:34:07] Dan LeFebvre: earlier. I did mention there were two races at the end. We talked about the first of those, but then the second last race that we see in the movie is we see Harold is in the stands.

He’s at the Olympics cheering on Eric is now the one racing. We hear the dialogue that Eric has already run two races that day. So his opponents just think he’s going to be dead tired. It doesn’t seem to affect him. Eric wins. And then again, we don’t really get a lot of details about the other races or even the time that Eric ran in this last race.

So can you fill in some details around Eric’s winning race that we don’t really see much in the movie?

[00:34:36] Alison Brown: Yes. And no, I’m trying to find the exact schedule of races from 1924 is a little tricky, but I will say that the 200 was run. After the 100 and then the 400, which Eric little did win, I think is also run before the

[00:34:59] Jill Jaracz: 100.

No, I have, I don’t have the 100, but the 200 was held before the 400, right? And they’re held over two days. So you have round one and the quarterfinals on the first day. And then the semifinals and the finals on the second day. So these athletes are already used to running multiple races on a day.

So the fact that littles run to races already, which, for the 400. Didn’t happen because he only ran two races total. That’s a little bit of an inaccuracy, but he would have been fine. So you have and they’re spaced a little bit apart. So in round one, which had 17 heats in the 400. And that’s part of the reason why we’re not going to see all of these races because.

You’ll get lost as a viewer if you’re watching four rounds of one event. That’ll start at two o’clock. Two hours later is your quarterfinals. The next day starts at 2. 45 and your finals are at 5. 30. So there’s some resting time in between. And,

Athletes also know at this level, still, even in 1924, to save a little bit in the tank for the finals. Do what you have to do to get into the next round. It’s not going to be as fast, but then in the finals, that’s when you really bring it.

[00:36:26] Dan LeFebvre: Would that be across the board for all the athletes then?

That they would all be running about the same number of races? Or would you have some that are Because, like in the movie, I get the impression that Erica’s run more oh, yeah, I ran two races today. He’s so I get the impression. He’s run more than the other athletes that are running the same race or they all run the same.

[00:36:45] Jill Jaracz: I think with that, they’re going back to this. Oh, you can run the 400 2 days before. We’re gonna put you in the four hundred swap you out here at the event kind of thing and i think that’s what they’re using that as a mechanism to heighten the drama versus this is it’s not another day at the office but.

They know how to do this work

[00:37:10] Alison Brown: and all the runners in the finals have run the same number of rounds to get to the finals. So it’s not Oh, they had to run extra races to get there. It’s all, heats, quarters, semis, finals.

[00:37:26] Dan LeFebvre: Sure. Sure. Okay. Okay. And just to just take, almost take a step back from those races, cause we do see in the movie a lot of.

Races that are mentioned, like I talk about Lord Lindsey when he’s Oh, I just, I already won my medal. He just mentions that. He doesn’t, we don’t really see that. So just, can you give a overall timeline, what sort of races were run then?

[00:37:46] Alison Brown: We don’t see any of the heats. We don’t see any, we only see finals.

So we’re only seeing the finals. Okay.

[00:37:50] Dan LeFebvre: Okay.

[00:37:51] Alison Brown: We’re only seeing the finals. So when Lindsay runs the hurdles, when Montague runs the staple chase rounds have happened before then, but we’re seeing the finals. Of those so they skip all the things that don’t involve a metal because we hear

[00:38:04] Dan LeFebvre: them talk about some of them and some of the dialogue like there’s some stuff going on that we don’t actually see and so I was curious how much we’re not seeing in the movie

[00:38:13] Jill Jaracz: and that could have ended up on the cutting room floor as well so it I would not be surprised if some of the minor character stories were much bigger to start with.

And then they just got trimmed down a little

[00:38:27] Dan LeFebvre: bit. we Talked about the kind of the text at the end, and at the very end of the movie, there is an explanation of what happened to Harold and Eric. It says, Harold married Sybil, became the elder statesman of British athletes, and then died in January of 1978.

Eric became a missionary, died at the end of World War II and occupied China, something that all of Scotland mourned. Is that a pretty good summary of what really happened to Harold and Eric after the timeline of the movie?

[00:38:51] Alison Brown: Harold married a different civil, but did in fact become the elder statesman of sports.

He was injured in 1925, so his athletic career ended very quickly after the Paris Olympics, but he was involved in sports for the rest of his life. And that was very accurate, as was Eric’s story.

[00:39:12] Jill Jaracz: Harold. Did commentary he did a lot of athletics work you can still find races with his commentary today and then that’s really fun to hear eric was in captivity when he died but he also had a brain tumor and that.

That part was left off the writing, but the rest of it is still quite accurate.

[00:39:35] Alison Brown: Yeah. I’m not sure if they included in that writing that Eric married and had three daughters. I don’t think they did. So yeah, so he did marry and have a family who actually were allowed to have private screenings of the movie and filmmakers were very Responsive to his daughters and they cried apparently, and we’re very moved by it.

So it was because they barely knew him because he died so very young, as did in fact, the actor who played him in Charleston also died much too soon. So that was a very sad parallel in the story. There

[00:40:13] Dan LeFebvre: was something that we see throughout the movie. I want to ask about with Harold Abrams. He has to deal with a lot of anti Semitism.

Was that something that he really faced?

[00:40:22] Alison Brown: We can’t go by anything that he talked about because it wasn’t something that he talked about. Was there significant anti Semitism in Great Britain in the 1920s, especially in the upper classes? Yeah. Was that true in the United States? Yeah. So I think we can assume that sort of casual anti Semitism that is shown throughout the movie was probably.

Something that he frequently dealt

[00:40:48] Dan LeFebvre: with speaking of in the era since chariots of fire came out in 1981. Let’s say you’re in charge of the remake. What would you do differently? Nothing. Nothing.

[00:40:59] Alison Brown: Don’t you dare remake this movie? This movie is perfect as it is. It’s hard for me to imagine a remake because I think Ian Charleston and Ben Cross were so perfectly cast.

That’s that would be it. The hard thing for me to see somebody else play those roles because I thought they just embodied these men and the spirit so perfectly. But yeah, I could do without the romance. I think,

[00:41:29] Jill Jaracz: I will say I’m impressed at how well this movie holds up. If I was in charge of a remake controversial thought I would change the score you have this honestly one of the most iconic soundtracks in movie history with a wonderful theme.

Until, and it sets you right in 1924 until the synthesizers start and put you squirrelly in 1981 and that happens all throughout the movie is all of a sudden you’ve got this music that starts and then the synthesizers come in and you’re, it’s so jarring and I get it. It is an amazing score and that song is just iconic but oh boy it really that really dates the movie in a nineteen eighties way and it’s sad that it takes it has some elements that make you feel like it’s nineteen twenty four and set you in the twenties but.

It just pulls you right back into the 80s.

[00:42:36] Dan LeFebvre: I honestly was not expecting that to be even on the table for that. That’s, that’s fair.

[00:42:42] Alison Brown: Me neither. I’m a little horrified right now. Jill and I are going to have a talk

[00:42:46] Jill Jaracz: after this. It got me again when I rewatched the movie Oh, it’s a fabulous song, fabulous theme, but Right when the synthesizers come in, I am back in 1981 boy, am I back in 1981

[00:43:01] Dan LeFebvre: when you wouldn’t even do it for like the nostalgia of, remake of knowing that this was in the eighties.

And so do it in some sort of

[00:43:06] Jill Jaracz: an, no, I would take this. I would. Orchestrate the synthesizers and just same music, just orchestrated. But if you wanted to do a remake and update, I would set it in 1924 and have some good hip hop to it. Okay.

[00:43:21] Dan LeFebvre: I would like to see the version that has that.

[00:43:24] Jill Jaracz: If I could beatbox, I would beatbox this theme right now.

[00:43:28] Alison Brown: This is like Jackson Schultz throwing down the rhymes

[00:43:32] Jill Jaracz: in the middle of the movie. Oh, can we talk about the fact that He slid Eric a note right before the start of the final. Okay,

[00:43:41] Alison Brown: so I want, I’m so glad you mentioned this, Jill, and this is why we work together.

That is actually accurate, but, no, but it wasn’t Jackson Schultz. So the moment that Jill is referring to is right before Eric runs his race Jackson, or was it Charlie Paddock? One of the Americans. One of the Americans. Hands him a note. It’s a Bible quote and basically is affirming Eric Little’s decision to, to not run on Sunday and God will see what you’re doing and honor you.

The team massage therapist actually did slip Eric Little a note with the Bible verse and the words of encouragement. Prior to his race, but of course, making the American opponent do it brings the height of the cinematic world to us, but that actually happened.

[00:44:36] Jill Jaracz: Wow, the moment that I did wonder okay, you get this note at the start line and he.

Crumbles it up, but like, where does he doesn’t throw it down his shirt or in a pocket or something like

[00:44:48] Alison Brown: that in his hand, but not always because it’s one of those inconsistencies where sometimes in some shots you can see it in his hand and in some shots it’s not there, but at the end it is in his hand.

[00:45:02] Dan LeFebvre: Wow, and I could see how, adding the the competitive side from the Americans, but also making it. In the movie, a lot more tense because if the swap did happen so, so quickly, at the end there, then maybe he’ll flip flop back and maybe, maybe he’ll change his mind or whatever, and adding the tension in the movie

[00:45:20] Alison Brown: and Americans are it’s funny that we love this movie because the Americans come off so bad, they’re just awful in this movie.

In that way that British people would portray them in the movie, arrogant and loud and all those wonderful things about us.

[00:45:37] Dan LeFebvre: Because we love the synthesizer. That’s what it is.

[00:45:42] Alison Brown: That music immediately makes you want to run on a beach in slow motion with sand getting kicked up in your mouth.

[00:45:50] Dan LeFebvre: Was there anything else from the true story that did not make its way into the movie that you wish had been included?

[00:45:55] Alison Brown: One of the things that they got wrong was. Eric’s relationship with his sister and I actually think the real relationship would have been more interesting Jenny was extremely supportive of Eric’s running career and Saw it as a way to spread their faith to honor God, God gave you this talent and I thought that the Unnecessary fighting between them actually diminished her as a character.

It made her seem very small. And I think seeing her as a support for when he was struggling. Would have been a more interesting portrayal of one of the only two, as Jill mentioned, one of the only two female characters and could have actually been a nice parallel with how Sybil supports Harold and how Jenny could have supported Eric.

[00:46:56] Jill Jaracz: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think, it created an additional conflict where we already had enough conflicts to deal with. You’re dealing with conflicts of religion and other people’s perceptions of what you should do. You’re dealing with conflicts of your ability to race and you’re competing against other athletes.

To have this other Made up conflict. Just it was very

[00:47:22] Alison Brown: flat. Oh, and Harold Abrams had a stash in real life that was amazing. Really good 1920s mustache that, Ben Cross could have rocked and looked very handsome. The aerodynamics, right? Absolutely.

[00:47:40] Dan LeFebvre: We have been talking a lot about history today.

Of course, the next Olympic games, 2024 games also in Paris, correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the first time they’ve been back to Paris since the events in the chariots of fire we’ve been talking about in 1924. So shifting from history to the future, what are you most looking forward to as you’re attending and report on the 2044 Paris games?

We are, we

[00:48:02] Alison Brown: get to go, we have media accreditation, so we get to cover them as press I have never been to Paris, so this is going to be my first foray, and I think just being in such a historic place for that anniversary, for that hundred years. And they’re using a lot of iconic elements. So there’s going to be events at the foot of the Eiffel tower, the marathon and the road races are going to go down the Champs Elysees and past the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Palais is being used.

So I think being in those. Historic, amazing places with this kind of historic, amazing event is going to be like no other Olympics.

[00:48:47] Jill Jaracz: ANd Paris 2024 has had a lot of nods to 1924 in its branding. So it’s it’s got a lot of Art Deco typography. The. Symbol of the games. If you look at it one way, it looks like a flame.

If you look at another way, it looks like Marianne, who is one of their symbols of freedom. I am looking forward to an Olympics where fans are able to go. The last two games have been under covid. So there’s a lot of pent up excitement about getting to go to the games again and getting all of the fan interaction.

That we’ve been missing and the energy in the stadiums that we’ve been missing, I’m also really looking forward to the French just bring in their French ways in the, we look back at the last time that France hosted something was the 1992 winter Olympics. And if you go back and look at those opening ceremonies, there’s a lot of Cirque performances going on.

It’s a little out there in terms of theatricalness, I am. Waiting to see what they do in terms of out there in theatricalness with the opening ceremonies and the closing ceremonies. The opening ceremonies will be like nothing we’ve ever seen in an Olympics because they will be going the parade of nations will be going down the Sen River for six kilometers and it’s just going to be mammoth in size and scale.

The speak out there. The mascot is a hat. It is a Friesian hat, which is another symbol from the French Revolution. So I am just excited to see what the French are going to do differently and bring it, and it, it’s just an amazing backdrop, like Allison said, to, have the games come back post COVID.

[00:50:39] Dan LeFebvre: Thank you both so much for coming on a chat about chariots of fire and we’ll enjoy the games through vicariously through both of you. Your podcast called keep the flame alive, which I will include a link to in the show notes for this episode. But can you share an overview of your podcast for our listeners?

[00:50:54] Jill Jaracz: We are four fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. So we talk with, we do anything about the games that you might be curious about. So we’ll talk with athletes about how their sports work, and we do that to find those little details so that when you’re watching, you can be smarter than everybody else on the couch.

We talk with people behind the scenes because It’s not just the athletes at the games are, it takes years to put these together. There are wonderful people behind the scenes who work really hard and do some amazing things. So we’ll talk with announcers. We’ll talk with photographers. We we’ve talked with officials before to, to figure out what they do and what they bring to the games as well.

We also cover the Paralympics and that is. And if you haven’t watched the Paralympics, do yourself a favor and watch them this year because the athleticism is amazing and just the, they have some different sports that you don’t see in the Olympics that are really fun to watch and you’ll just catch the enthusiasm and the fun of those games.

So we are on every week and then during the games, we’ll have daily recaps. Wheelchair rugby.

[00:51:59] Alison Brown: Everybody needs to watch wheelchair rugby in Paris. It is demolition derby and basketball put together.

[00:52:09] Dan LeFebvre: Wow. It’s fun. Okay.

[00:52:11] Jill Jaracz: It’s great. It’s great.

[00:52:14] Dan LeFebvre: Yeah. No I’m looking forward to that.

Thank you again so much for your time.

[00:52:21] Jill Jaracz: Thank you for having us. Thank you. This is fun.



Latest episode