Chariots of Fire • Main Theme • Vangelis

!The best soundtracks&movies of all time! Soundtrack from the 1981 Hugh Hudson film, “Chariots of Fire.” With Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers, Nicholas Farrell, Ian.

The electronic play “Chariots Of Fire” has long become a kind of parody cliche, which is immediately associated either with sporting events or with scenes shot in slow motion (the so-called “slow-mo”).
At the London 2012 Olympics, there was even a funny performance where the comedian “Mr. Bean” “played” this composition with a symphony orchestra. Moreover, the whole batch of Bean was reduced to monotonous pressing of one key, which is why he was clearly “bored”.

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All these jokes and associations are not accidental. “Chariots of Fire” was specially composed for the 1981 British sports drama of the same name. In the film, this instrumental was accompanied by a professional race on the beach. It would seem – how can these sublime “ethereal” sounds be combined with energetic running? It turns out they can, if the scene is shot in the “slow-mo” mode. Then the runners will not seem like two-legged rabbits, but eagles soaring above the ground.

Although the drama unfolded during the 1924 Olympics, director Hugh Hudson decided on a non—standard move – to focus not on authentic music of that era, but electronic.

Hugh Hudson:
“We needed timeless music to give a sense of modernity to what was happening.”

The director immediately decided that one of the best electronic artists of that time, Evangelis Odysseas Papathanasiou (a former colleague of Demis Roussos and Lucas Sideras in the Greek rock band APHRODITE’S CHILD), would be perfect for this purpose. Since 1974, the composer has lived and worked in London, so that the British did not break the language, he began to be called simply “Vangelis”.

Initially, Hudson wanted to use Vangelis’s already finished composition “L’Enfant” from the album “Opera Sauvage” (1977) in the film — and even already shot the same running scene for it.

However, the composer took the initiative and said that he would compose original music. According to Vangelis, the topic of sports was not alien to him (“My father was also a runner, and this anthem is also for him”). He also added that when composing his play, he started, first of all, from the plot — the story of three real men who are steadfast not only in sports, but also in their principles.

“My main inspiration is the story itself. The rest I did instinctively, without thinking about anything else except how to express my feelings by technical means.
…Music should continue emotions where words end.”

Vangelis personally played all the parts of the instruments (synthesizer, piano, drums), but the most striking thing is not that. After the soundtrack was released, the composer admitted that he composed and recorded it … from memory, since by that time he had almost completely lost his hearing (greetings to Beethoven and his “9th Symphony”).

The solemn electronic ode was initially published on a single under the faceless name “Titles” (i.e. simply “title theme”). However, when the single rose to the 60th place in the American charts, the name was changed to a more intelligible one – “Chariots Of Fire”. In this form, the composition reached the very top, and Vangelis became the first (and so far the only) Greek composer to have a No. 1 hit in the USA. In addition, “Chariots Of Fire” won an Oscar, beating such a master of soundtracks as John Williams with his “Indiana Jones”.

Vangelis’s play began to be regularly performed at the Olympics, and in 1984 it was (still without any irony) used by Steve Jobs at the presentation of the first “Macintosh”.
The triumph of “Chariots Of Fire” was briefly overshadowed by the accusation of plagiarism. In 1985, a fellow countryman of Vangelis — Stavros Logoriridis — said that the melody was stolen from his 1977 composition “City of Violets” (“City of Violets”). The similarity was indeed visible. However, Vangelis was able to convince the court that a) he could not have heard this song before and b) he used a similar chord sequence back in the days of APHRODITE’S CHILD.

“Chariots Of Fire” has not remained a pure instrumental. Soon, John Anderson (the leader of the YES group, who has collaborated with Vangelis more than once) composed a text to this tune called “Race To The End” (“Race to the End”). And soon Melissa Manchester, Mireille Mathieu and Vangelis’ old friend Demis Roussos sang a new song.

“It rarely happens when a composer considers his most successful work to be the best. I am no exception here. My soundtrack to “Mutiny on the Bounty” seems to me much more interesting than “Chariots of Fire”.”

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