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With Wings as Eagles (proposed title - Chariots of Fire sequel)

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If there isn't already a thread on this... and I know there may well be...

... then it's time we started one.

The sequel to Chariots of Fire, which is currently in-the-works, may be titled With Wings as Eagles... and it may be scripted by ... gasp ... "a committed Christian."

I had a few conversations with the film's would-be producer about this a few months back, and I've wondered if the project would stir up "concern." Well, the news is breaking out all over now. And you can hear the bloodthirsty journalists sharpening their fangs already, looking for some reason to get hysterical.

I'm answering The Guardian's story over at my blog.

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Oh, wait, has Rich Swingle joined forces with Ken Wales, then? I thought Swingle's film was going to be called Beyond the Chariots, whereas Wales has been talking about making a movie called With Wings as Eagles for some time now.

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:
: Part of what made Chariots of Fire a lasting classic was this: It showed us two characters with different faiths and very different personal stories and struggles. It did not favor the Scottish Christian's view over the English Jew's view.

FWIW, to repeat what I wrote at your blog, I believe Margaret Miles, for one, would disagree:
Interestingly, no reviewers I found questioned Liddell's religious commitment. Whether one appreciated it or not, it was apparently fully believable. How did Chariots achieve this authenticity? First, it presents Christian commitment as rooted in religious community rather than in religious individualism. A lengthy part of the film establishes Liddell's answerability to his family and community in Scotland. He is not shown socializing with other runners at the Olympics; his relationships with them are friendly but distant. Second, voice-over and interior dialogue are used at crucial points throughout the film to reveal the commitments, not only to religious ideas but also to people, that inform Liddell's convictions. By contrast, Abrahams' Jewishness, even though it is explicitly pictured as essential -- even the key -- to his character and motivation, is not articulated. Abrahams is not shown as having family, community, or religious practices. In the scene in which he describes to Ashley Montague what Jewishness means to him, Abrahams shows Montague a picture of his father. But the camera, and therefore the viewer, does not see it. Abrahams talks about his father, but the father never becomes visible to the viewer. The filmic isolation of a character signals his otherness in relation to the perspective assumed by the film, usually that of its protagonist. . . .

Chariots explicitly exposes the anti-Semitism of Abrahams' elite Cambridge college and sympathetically represents the pain it causes, but the film nevertheless subverts its own critique in several ways. First, it represents Liddell's and Abrahams's personalities as stereotypes: Liddell is friendly, has a sense of humor, is outgoing and usually takes himself lightly; Abrahams is moody, intense, and lacks humor. Liddell is presented as self-assured and likable, Abrahams as difficult, defensive, and monomaniacal. Liddell runs to "give God pleasure," while Abrahams runs to show a dominantly Christian culture that he can "run them off their feet." A dominantly Christian audience in Great Britain and North America could be expected to find Liddell's motivation more heroic, especially when viewers learn, at the end, of his death as a Christian martyr.

Furthermore, spectators are much more likely to identify with the film characters whose subjectivity we have access to than with those we merely see acting in certain ways. Abrahams' self-talk is heard only after he loses an important race, when obsessive images of losing the race occupy his mind. Viewers are encouraged to identify with Liddell, however; at several crucial points we hear the interior voices that explain his motivation or agonize over the conflict he feels. . . .
FWIW, a few more paragraphs are excerpted at the blog post linked above.

Myself, I haven't seen the film in YEARS, so I can't take a strong position one way or the other on this right now.

Oh, and Jeff, you criticize the Guardian for "picking through the details of Rich Swingle's life looking for something horribly suspicious." But doesn't the Guardian say "Swingle's CV shows religion is a central theme in his work"? It sounds to me like they are "judging" Swingle by the work that he has put out there for everyone to see, rather than by his "life". Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Oh, and FWIW, I believe the title "Chariots of Fire" does not come from the Bible -- not directly -- but from William Blake's poem 'And did those feet in ancient time', which became the basis for the hymn 'Jerusalem', which is sung in the film and on the soundtrack album.

Link to the thread on Chariots of Fire (1981).

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QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Sep 11 2007, 10:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Oh, and FWIW, I believe the title "Chariots of Fire" does not come from the Bible -- not directly -- but from William Blake's poem 'And did those feet in ancient time', which became the basis for the hymn 'Jerusalem', which is sung in the film and on the soundtrack album.

Link to the thread on Chariots of Fire (1981).

In fact, although Blake's poem seemed to be the direct inspiration for the title, Blake himself took it from 2 Kings 2 - Elijah is taken off to heaven in a chariot of fire.

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Tony Watkins wrote:
: In fact, although Blake's poem seemed to be the direct inspiration for the title, Blake himself took it from 2 Kings 2 - Elijah is taken off to heaven in a chariot of fire.

Yes, hence "not directly". (An even better passage might be II Kings 6:17, since it refers to "chariots of fire" in the plural. smile.gif )

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QUOTE(Peter T Chattaway @ Sep 11 2007, 10:45 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Tony Watkins wrote:
: In fact, although Blake's poem seemed to be the direct inspiration for the title, Blake himself took it from 2 Kings 2 - Elijah is taken off to heaven in a chariot of fire.

Yes, hence "not directly". (An even better passage might be II Kings 6:17, since it refers to "chariots of fire" in the plural. smile.gif )

You're right. Interesting, Blake uses it in the singular.

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FWIW I'm not sure I agree with your reading of this Jeffrey.

If I was a Jewish descendent of a famous Jewish athlete, and his life story was being produced as part of a bigger story by Christians, then I would have some "fears" or concerns about the project. That's not the same as criticisms or objections, but fears are understandable aren't they?

And the Guardian can be surprisingly pro-Christian at times as well as anti. (check this story for example from yesterday). It's why it's my favourite paper.

Matt

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Neither of the films mentioned above were ever made, were they? Now it's time for a third attempt:

 

- - -

 

[url=http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/the-last-race-unofficial-chariots-of-fire-sequel-starring-joseph-fiennes-in-the-running-10340745.html]The Last Race: Unofficial Chariots of Fire sequel starring Joseph Fiennes in the running[/url]

The Scottish runner Eric Liddell was immortalised in the classic film Chariots of Fire, and now 34 years after the Oscar-winning movie, an unofficial sequel of sorts is on the starting line.

The original film, released in 1981, starred Ian Charleson as Liddell and won four Academy Awards. It was resolutely British in both classification and style.

The Last Race, meanwhile, stars a resolutely British actor – Joseph Fiennes – but is being filmed largely in China by a director from Hong Kong –Stephen Shin, who also wrote the script. The film, which is co-directed by Canadian Michael Parker, will depict Liddell’s work as a missionary in China after his victorious turn at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Plans for the film, including its release next year, will be announced by Fiennes in the north-east Chinese city of Tianjin, where parts of the action are set. The actor will make the announcement alongside Shin and Chinese-Canadian actor Xiao “Shawn” Dou, who plays Liddell’s Chinese friend and fellow internment camp inmate Xu Niu. . . .

If film-makers reflect Liddell’s fervent Christian beliefs and it does get a mainland release, the film will be a breakthrough because it depicts religion. The Chinese population is overwhelmingly secular, with atheism promoted by the Communist Party.

Early indications suggest the film will cast Chinese characters in a vastly more favourable light than their Japanese wartime oppressors, under whom Liddell died – a move that would make a China release more likely. . . .

The Independent, June 23

 

[url=http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/chariots-fire-sequel-works-805036]'Chariots of Fire' "Sequel" In the Works[/url]

The focus of the film will be Liddell's friendship with a Chinese man (Dou) director Shin told The Hollywood Reporter. The two men met when Liddell returned to China and both were subsequently put into a Japanese concentration camp during WWII.

"It's an exciting, passionate story of two men's friendship and humanity in hardship," said Shin.

The  $24 million (150 million RMB) film will be produced by Hong Kong's Sil-Metropole Organisation Ltd, China's Beijing's Forbidden City Film, and American producer Jim Green, and the project has been ten years in the making.

"In 2005, I first heard about this story, and wanted to make the film in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games," Shin said. "But because of the sensitive subject matter of Liddell being a missionary in China, and the fact that it has to be a Chinese co-production for it to be released outside of the quota in China, it took me ten years to start the film."

The film got Chinese state approval last year and began shooting in Canada and the U.S. in January of this year. Production then continued in Tianjin, where Liddell was born, and Shandong, where the concentration camp was. Filming is scheduled to conclude in August, for a March 2016 release date.

But before that, the film will have a premiere on Dec. 13, the commemoration date for the casualties of the Nanking Massacre.

The producers of the film will also publish a companion book of photos of the concentration camp and interviews with survivors, including a two-hour documentary.  "The world knows the story of the Nazi concentration camps in films like Schindler's List, but this is the story of a Japanese concentration camp that will strike a cord with audiences around the world," said Shin.

Hollywood Reporter, June 25

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I wish these screenwriters would get to know my friend John Hoyte, husband of the poet Luci Shaw. John was in that camp with Liddell, and he has vivid memories — and even sketches — from that experience.

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Liddell is the new Louis Zamperini?

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