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Chariots of Fire spirit needed again says Puttnam

Britain needs the kind of spirit shown by Eric Liddell to see us through our current crises, says film producer Lord Puttnam, whose 1981 hit Chariots of Fire is re-released in July ...

Multi-Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire is re-released in cinemas this summer – in a world surprisingly similar to the one in which the film was launched in 1981.

That's the view of its producer, Lord David Puttnam, who opened the Christian Resources Exhibition International on Tuesday (8 May) and launched a special set of church and community resources to accompany a re-release of the film in cinemas across the country.

"The world is now very different from 1924, in which the film is set," said Lord Puttnam, "but there are definite similarities to 1981. The country was going through recession and the Thatcher government was deeply unpopular. The success of the film, winning a number of Oscars, gave the whole country a boost.

"It also gave us a chance to reflect on the past and perhaps we have an opportunity to do the same today. It still has a lot to say. It is not jingoistic, it is about conscience. It questioned the drive for success and the nature of celebrity. Eric Liddell is the quintessence of the spirit we need if we are to see our way through these difficult times."

The resources, created by the Damaris Trust, focus on key themes of passion, dedication and trust and are downloadable free of charge. Lord Puttnam told hundreds of visitors to CRE that a dozen people have written to him over the years to say Chariots of Fire stopped them committing suicide.

"Making the film was not easy but, at every turn, there seemed to be a hidden hand providing an answer to the many problems that arose," he said. He recalled screening the film to Eric Liddell's widow who said Eric would have been so pleased. He knew he was a poor speaker but the actor gave a voice to Eric. He would have been thrilled.

"In this unique year, with the Olympics at the very top of the agenda, we were delighted to have such a distinguished person opening the show," said Paul Trott, Head of Marketing for CRE's parent company Bible Society. "The story of Eric Liddell continues to inspire and challenge. Hundreds of UK churches have already come to CRE today and discovered some great ways to communicate to their communities before and during the Games."

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