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 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 11:14 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

12 Oct 2013: I stumbled across "Chariots of Fire" just underway on one of the HBO hd channels last night, and although I have (1) the VHS tape, (2) the initial standard-screen DVD, and (3) the later so-called "TWO-DISC SPECIAL EDITION" DVD with widescreen and oodles of extra features, I was drawn inexorably into it, and this time paid more attention to how director Hugh Hudson and composer Vangelis wove that magical very 20th century electronic music into a story set in 1923 and 1924, a juxtaposition that I've always thought was startlingly effective. I saw the film when it was first released and went back a few times to introduce friends to it, who also loved it, and have long viewed it as a movie about sports for people who don't like movies about sports, and remember being elated when it was the upset winner for Best Picture (over, as I think I recall, "On Golden Pond" and "Reds," which probably split the vote and allowed "Chariots" to slip past them). I well remember the first time I watched the movie after Ian Charleson had died of AIDS, and when it got to the scroll at the end that tells us that Eric Liddell died in occupied China at the end of WWII, tears suddenly filled my eyes, knowing that the actor who played him had just died himself. Both he and Ben Cross are soooooooooooooooo perfect in that film. But what a brilliant, if improbable, choice for director Hugh Hudson to pick Vangelis to score it! The soundtrack has long been a favorite of mine, from LP to CD, although it only has about 40 minutes of new music, half of which is taken up by a long riff on themes, which I never felt built to the explosive finale I wanted, so back during the tape era I used my Nakamichi to switch, at the 13.19 point, to a far grander and explosive finale I took from another cue of the score, and have always wished that Vangelis would go back and re-do that long cue, which was mostly a set of variations of his principal themes. How do others react to this soundtrack and how Vangelis integrates it into the film?

 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 2:57 PM   
 By:   MutualRevolver   (Member)

I'm just really glad the Blu-ray included an isolated score for this one smile

 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 7:31 PM   
 By:   Recordman   (Member)

In 1982 I was at the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial on the Mall in Washington D.C.
Walking down the mall to its location I came to a small rise and at the top of the rise I could see down below the thousands and thousands of vets, their families and other civilians clustered around around The Wall and the soundtrack to "Chariots of Fire" was playing over and over the sound system. A true goose-bump moment for me personally. I liked the score before that date but that day locked it into my heart.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 7:53 PM   
 By:   The CinemaScope Cat   (Member)

The power of muzak can be quite potent. I've been known to ride elevators for hours under its spell. But whenever Chariots Of Fire comes on, I panic and push the open button and get out as quick as I can.

 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 8:12 PM   
 By:   Sigerson Holmes   (Member)

. . . and get out as quick as I can.


So you mean it inspires you to run fast? Good for Vangelis.

I never warmed much to Vangelis, but this particular assignment seemed a good fit. It was going to need some kind of hummable anthem, and he certainly delivered one, and the use of electronics gave the story a feeling of "timeless myth."

I'd compare it (in terms if timelessness) to Jerry's use of electronics in the period picture "Hoosiers." Jerry took it a step further by sampling the sound of a bouncing basketball to keep the beat. Perhaps Vangelis' sound effects can be imagined to represent the heartbeat of a runner, footsteps, or something else specifically related to the film's subject.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 10:38 PM   
 By:   The CinemaScope Cat   (Member)

So you mean it inspires you to run fast?

No, to get out fast. There is a difference!

 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 11:05 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

CinemaScope Kid: Re: No, to get out fast. There is a difference!

So you equate Vangelis' score for "Chariots of Fire" to muzak. Pity. Your loss indeed.

And to MutualRevolver: With so many copies of that movie, I've just not been able to convince myself to buy it again, even if it's Blu-ray. But last night, watching the hd broadcast on HBO, I found myself considering it. And having an isolated music score would be a bonus, but I've found that it's hard to sit through a familiar movie, even a favorite movie, with absolutely nothing except the music -- no dialog, no sound effects, nothing but the music. It's a great feature if you want to record the music off of it, and I'm sure that there are people who love that feature. But when I've tried it, such as the isolated score for Jerry Goldsmith's great score for "Rudy," I missed some of the other sounds, like the big tear-jerking finale when everyone is screaming as that glorious score builds up to sweep us away, usually in tears. It makes me realize how important everything is to the finished product. Last night, while watching "Chariots of Fire," I wanted to know who edited that movie, because he or she did an amazing job, especially with the music perfectly accompanying the action on screen.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 11:49 PM   
 By:   Alex Cremers   (Member)

Not a fan of the album but Abraham's Theme and 100 Metres are pure Blade Runner.


Alex

 
 Posted:   Oct 12, 2013 - 11:55 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Beyond water-boarding: Tie me to a chair and force me to listen repeatedly to CHARIOTS OF FIRE, the ROCKY victory theme and Lara's Theme from DR. ZHIVAGO, and I'll tell you anything!!! eek eek

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 12:15 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Dana Wilcox: Re: Beyond water-boarding: Tie me to a chair and force me to listen repeatedly to CHARIOTS OF FIRE, the ROCKY victory theme and Lara's Theme from DR. ZHIVAGO, and I'll tell you anything!!!

Wow! First someone compares Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire" score to muzak, and now you equate it with water boarding? I sat there last night, absolutely thrilled by the music and the film and with my usual positive assessment of them even kicked up a notch or two. Interesting. Different strokes, I guess.

And now, at 1:02 a.m. my time, I just ordered the Blu-ray of "Chariots of Fire" -- you probably think the devil made me do it, but I happen to love that movie and its thrilling soundtrack!

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 2:06 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

First off: I've never watched the film so my comments relate solely to the album.

I love that main title theme ... so much so that back in the early 1980s I thought about buying it on vinyl 45rpm single from my local Newsagents when they stocked a few copies of some popular records. Only, by the time I'd decided to do so it was no longer available.

Then I got hold of the album (I think it would have been vinyl LP but it might have been an early CD) ... and I didn't keep a recording of anything other than that iconic theme. The album (score?) did nothing for me and I derided the fact that it was so popular as I believed (with no facts to support my belief, I hasten to add) that it would turn the general public off film soundtrack music: just how many people bought that album only to find that after track 1 it was largely a total bore?

Some 30 years on my tastes have broadened greatly and maybe I'd enjoy it more but as I have that theme and the track Five Circles - which I find less than interesting - I'm unlikely to bother acquiring the album now. I do play the odd track from the compilation album Themes but as a complete listen it is not engaging and thus does not inspire me to expand my collection of his works.

Mitch

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 2:58 AM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

To MusicMad Mitch: First off: I've never watched the film so my comments relate solely to the album.

I love that main title theme ... so much so that back in the early 1980s I thought about buying it on vinyl 45rpm single from my local Newsagents when they stocked a few copies of some popular records. Only, by the time I'd decided to do so it was no longer available.

Then I got hold of the album (I think it would have been vinyl LP but it might have been an early CD) ... and I didn't keep a recording of anything other than that iconic theme. The album (score?) did nothing for me and I derided the fact that it was so popular as I believed (with no facts to support my belief, I hasten to add) that it would turn the general public off film soundtrack music: just how many people bought that album only to find that after track 1 it was largely a total bore?

Some 30 years on my tastes have broadened greatly and maybe I'd enjoy it more but as I have that theme and the track Five Circles - which I find less than interesting - I'm unlikely to bother acquiring the album now. I do play the odd track from the compilation album Themes but as a complete listen it is not engaging and thus does not inspire me to expand my collection of his works.
...

There's far more to the soundtrack CD than the very little (just 2 cues) you tell us you remember hearing, one that you once liked and one you didn't, and it includes some hauntingly lovely pieces and a nearly 21 minute medley of variations of the score that Vangelis put together just for the album. Essentially you write that you used to like the theme, almost bought it on LP but didn't, and, apparently, have never cared for the entire soundtrack nor seen the film. So what did you expect to add to my discussion? May I suggest that, for your next project, you take the time to finally see this wonderful film with its very unusual but still quite effective soundtrack? Then you can report back here and tell us something that might be worth reading. Thank you. And please forgive my obvious frustration, because I feel you've given short-shrift to a soundtrack you've never truly heard.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 5:11 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Dear Ron,

My apologies to you ... I'm sorry I bothered.

Mitch

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 7:32 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Dana Wilcox: Re: Beyond water-boarding: Tie me to a chair and force me to listen repeatedly to CHARIOTS OF FIRE, the ROCKY victory theme and Lara's Theme from DR. ZHIVAGO, and I'll tell you anything!!!

Wow! First someone compares Vangelis' "Chariots of Fire" score to muzak, and now you equate it with water boarding? I sat there last night, absolutely thrilled by the music and the film and with my usual positive assessment of them even kicked up a notch or two. Interesting. Different strokes, I guess.

And now, at 1:02 a.m. my time, I just ordered the Blu-ray of "Chariots of Fire" -- you probably think the devil made me do it, but I happen to love that movie and its thrilling soundtrack!


To each his own, I fully understand. Whatever gets you going!

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 7:33 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I haven't spun my CD in years but always enjoyed the score. Though ironically I can't stand the main theme anymore. It's just one of those theme's that were played to death on radio (and elevators) It was also on every single movie theme compilation for years on end. But I love the rest of the score. Never could sit through the movie however.

Edit: For kicks and giggles I imported my CD into iTunes and gave it a spin. The sound quality is surprisingly good for such an old release.

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 7:45 AM   
 By:   Urs Lesse   (Member)

Ron, I think you have been overly harsh. I think there are quite a lot of us here who only ever listened to the album without ever having seen the movie, and while that is obviously no base to judge the score in the movie on, we can still give our opinion on the album. Apparently, Vangelis does distinguish between the score and the album quite a lot (see his refusal to authorize a complete BLADE RUNNER), so I guess it is just fair to also allow for album-only verdicts. And while I have disagreed strongly with Mitch at times as well, I think his wording was not offensive here.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 7:50 AM   
 By:   nerfTractor   (Member)

I recall getting the LP as a teenager when the film came out. I listened to it quite a bit and while there are some interesting moments outside the famous main theme, it's not a piece that stuck with me. What I can say is that the soundtrack album was my first exposure to the lovely English hymn "Jerusalem" (composed by RVW, I believe?), the other melodically memorable track from the recording.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 9:47 AM   
 By:   jacky   (Member)

I'm just really glad the Blu-ray included an isolated score for this one smile

Talking about that, anyone else experience some soundeffects on the isolated track during a few scenes??
I have the European Blu Ray, but it can be that the US differs from this particular edition.

 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 12:21 PM   
 By:   Ron Hardcastle   (Member)

Re: Talking about that, anyone else experience some soundeffects on the isolated track during a few scenes??

jacky: I'll watch for that when I watch the Blu-ray, although, as I've written elsewhere, I get a little impatient trying to watch an entire film with just the isolated music score.

And yes, Urs, I guess I was overly harsh, and don't usually have such a knee-jerk reaction when sacred cows are more or less gored. But I felt that the negative comments were being based on such inadequate exposure to all the music as well as the film itself that, in the wee hours, it troubled me. And I agree that many of us listen to and buy soundtracks for films we've never seen and may never see. But if we are going to publicly dismiss them, I would hope we would do it based on a certain degree of familiarity with what we are writing about. But I should have been a little more tactful about it.

 
 
 Posted:   Oct 13, 2013 - 1:44 PM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Ron, I think you have been overly harsh. I think there are quite a lot of us here who only ever listened to the album without ever having seen the movie, and while that is obviously no base to judge the score in the movie on, we can still give our opinion on the album. Apparently, Vangelis does distinguish between the score and the album quite a lot (see his refusal to authorize a complete BLADE RUNNER), so I guess it is just fair to also allow for album-only verdicts. And while I have disagreed strongly with Mitch at times as well, I think his wording was not offensive here.


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