Sunday, March 01, 2009

Chariots of Fire by Hugh Hudson

I became interested in this film in 1995 after listening to its masterful soundtrack by Vangelis, which made me listen to his other works (I highly recommend, in addition to Chariots of Fire, his albums Voices and El Greco).

I remember seeing this film prior to my introduction to Actualism, and being "elevated" by it.

I saw it again recently, and was amused at my response this time. The film is about two British athletes who fervently wished to win a medal at the 8th Olympics for very different reasons. One, Harold Abrahams, wanted to win it to show others that he, as a Jew and an Irishman, was capable of high achivement. The other, Eric Liddell, wanted to win it as a paean to the glory of God.

It was not just a race to either of them. They had strong affective and symbolic reasons for running. Yes, they won. And the film tries to show that their winning was a consequence of their intense belief in themselves and their cause.

However, this time it was clear to me that their winning was no more than happenstance and they could have easily lost as well. Many athletes who have struggled no less and with unknown and equally strong affective stories do lose, and cry bitterly at their "fate"! An intense feeling of euphoria and achievement - if one is successful - is the flip-side of an intense feeling of dejection and sorrow - if one fails. Sportsmanship is not just for losers, but for winners as well. However, winners don't get accused of being too happy on their success, and are commended for their hard work and training, whereas losers are told that sometimes it is just a matter of chance.

The metaphysical rendering of the protagonists' victory in this film ("they won because they believed!") is elevating to our being (the film won the Best Picture Oscar), and that confirms to me that even the secular and atheists amongst us (in the audience) are Beings at heart and experience feelings which can only be called spiritual.

Feelings, of elevation and of love, make us spiritual beings. Whether or not we meditate.

No comments: