China gets Chariots of Fire sequel up and running

The much-loved British film Chariots of Fire about the Scottish runner and missionary Eric Liddell is getting a sequel thanks to his many fans in China.

Ian Charleston as Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire

Joseph Fiennes will play Riddell in a new movie filmed in China, co-written and directed by the Hong Kong director Stephen Shin with Canadian director Michael Parker.

It will be distributed by the Hong Kong-based Alibaba Pictures, who this morning also announced that they are to back the fifth Mission Impossible film.

Chariots of Fire, which won four Oscars in 1982, starred Ian Charleson as Liddell, a devout Christian who had to choose between his sport and religious beliefs at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Months before the Olympics took place, Liddell had to drop his plans to enter his preferred 100m race because the heats took place on a Sunday. Instead, he trained for the 400m and succeeded in taking the gold medal for Great Britain.

The Independent reports that the Chinese-born Liddell is regarded as a hero in China, partly for his sporting prowess but also for his actions in the Japanese internship camp where he died aged 43. Liddell was thought to have organised the smuggling of food in to prisoners.

Born in China to missionary parents, he returned to that country after his Olympic victory to continue his parents’ work. In 1934 he married fellow missionary Florence Mackenzie with whom he had three children.

Liddell remained in China after Japan invaded in 1937. In 1943, he was held in an internment camp in Weifang, and died of a brain tumour two years later, aged 43. In 2008, shortly before the Beijing Olympics, it was revealed that Winston Churchill had negotiated his release through a prisoner swap, which Liddell turned down so that a pregnant inmate could gain freedom instead.

China allows only 34 non-Chinese films to be shown in its mainland cinemas each year. Alibaba Pictures says that it “should” get such a release.

Such a focus on religion is unusual for a film in China, where the Communist government promotes atheism.

via China gets Chariots of Fire sequel up and running.

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