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


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 12:06 AM

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.


#2 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 03:24 AM

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, 11 September 2007 - 03:25 AM.


#3 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 04:02 AM

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).

#4 Tony Watkins

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 04:21 AM

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.

#5 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 04:45 AM

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 )

#6 Tony Watkins

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 04:54 AM

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.

#7 MattPage

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 11:37 AM

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