Chariots of Fire: Sequels of 1981 Oscar-Winner in the Works

Two movies described as sequels to Chariots of Fire are in the works, but they have different perspectives of Christianity.

Absolute Surrender is about Eric Liddell, the devout Christian runner whose refusal to compete on Sundays during the 1924 Olympics served as pemise for 1981’s Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire.

That movie explored Liddell’s friendship with fellow British Olympian Harold Abrahams, a Jew who endured anti-Semitism while competing in 1924’s Summer Olympics held in Paris, both of the upcoming films will instead explore what came after the games for Liddell.

Scottish, Liddell was born in China to parents who were Christian missionaries, and he returned to China after his victory at the Olympics to follow in their footsteps. Along with his charitable works, Liddell raced sporadically in China.

In 1941, Japanese aggressors made life dangerous in China so Liddell’s pregnant wife and their children left for Canada, but he stayed behind, eventually forced into the Weihsien Internment Camp.

Liddell died there in 1945 five months before the camp was liberated. Decades later, Chinese authorities confirmed that when the Japanese offered him an opportunity to leave via a prisoner swap, he instead gave his spot to a pregnant woman.

Absolute Surrender is a $20 million indie film written by Eric Eichinger and Howard Klausner with Mark Joseph in negotiations to produce.

Klausner co-wrote Space Cowboys forClint Eastwood and Joseph is producing a biopic about Ronald Reagan.

Absolute Surrender won’t shy from the obvious religious aspects of Liddell’s story, The Last Race, another film on the same topic, is expected to downplay his Christianity.

“Our story is not telling religion, it’s telling about love among people,” The Last Race co-directorStephen Shin told the UK Independent. Liddell’s religious beliefs, he said, “will not be emphasized.”

The Last Race stars Joseph Fiennes as Liddell and it is largely a Chinese production so it won’t be considered one of the 34 movies allowed under China’s quota system for foreign films. The movie will be distributed by Hong Kong-based Alibaba Pictures Group.

Absolute Surrender has no director or stars attached yet.

After the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, a Communist party that promotes atheism has ruled, so the notion that The Last Race would not focus on Liddell’s Christianity isn’t surprising. Eichinger, though, is hoping audiences do not confuse the competing titles.

“We can’t speak for other films, but fans of Eric and Chariots of Fire can be assured that we do not come to his life story from a worldview that mocks, persecutes or forces into the underground those who share Eric’s beliefs,” he said.

Liddell’s three daughters, still living in Canada, are aware of both projects. Asked about Absolute Surrender, daughter Maureen Liddell Moore called it “a gift.” About The Last Race, she said: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”