Chariots of Fire

Chariots of Fire (1981)

9 corrected entries

(3 votes)

Corrected entry: This 'college dash' that Abrahams impresses Cambridge University by completing - something's not right. The challenge is to get around the courtyard in the time it takes the clock to strike midday. The big deal is that this challenge is supposed to have been around for almost seven centuries and no one has ever completed it successfully. That means that the college dash originated in the early 13th century. There couldn't have been a clock like the one used to time the dash back in the 1200's.

Correction: There could have been manually-rung midday bells.

J I Cohen

Correction: The 'College Dash' is not a centuries old tradition: it is a twentieth century tradition. And it is not called 'The College Dash', it is called 'The Great Court Run'. Even so, lots of things are wrong with the scene in question! Keep reading, and I will give you some details. It is a Cambridge tradition for students to try to run around the Great Court of Trinity College while the college clock strikes 12. This would be quite an achievement, because this is not just the largestest courtyard in Cambridge, but possibly the largest courtyard in England. It measures (very) roughly 100 meters (110 yards) north-south and 80 meters (88 yards) east-west: so its four sides cover a grand total of 360 meters (400 yards). (My figures are not 100% mathematically accurate, but I am trying to convey an idea of how far students have to run.) Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) successfully completes 'The Great Court Run' accompanied by another student, Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers). But this scene was not filmed in Trinity College. It was not even filmed in Cambridge! It was filmed in the much smaller 'School Yard' at Eton College (a school in Berkshire, 70 miles from Cambridge) which only measures (very roughly) 45 meters (50 yards) north-south and 65 metres (70 yards) east-west, so its four sides only cover 220 meters (240 yards). Harold Abrahams studied at Cambridge between 1919 and 1923, but he never attempted the Great Court Run: the tradition may not have begun until 1927, when David Cecil (also known as Lord Burghley, the future Marquess of Exeter) was the first person to accomplish the feat (with reliable witnesses watching him). 'Chariots Of Fire' contains another inaccuracy: Abrahams and Lindsay make the run as the clock rings 12 times, but the clock in the Great Court at Trinity College is rather unusual, in that it strikes twice for each hour, and will thus strike 24 times at mid-day (and midnight) : this takes between 45 and 55 seconds. Even so, in over 90 years since 1927, very few people have been able to run a full circuit of the courtyard before the clock finishes striking.

Rob Halliday

Corrected entry: As the challengers are getting ready for the college dash, the starter incorrectly says "Now remember, on the first strike of 12." He should have said "on the first strike of 1" because they start running on the strike of 1 and must finish before the clock strikes 12.

Correction: "the first strike of 12" is the correct way to refer to the first of the twelve "bongs" that indicate noon. Similarly, Dickens, in "A Christmas Carol" (1843) refers to "the last stroke of twelve".

Corrected entry: In several tracking shots of the stadium the four-colour Chinese flag is flying from the top stands but China did not send its first Olympic competitor until 1932.

Douglas Bell

Correction: Although China did not compete in the 1924 Olympics, they were still represented and attended, so it is correct that the flag is flown, as it was in 1924.


Corrected entry: The dress Sybill wears to her first date with Harold is far, far too low cut for 1912. The neckline goes below the lower curve of her breasts. In 1912, forget it. This isn't a character choice - wearing a dress like that in Edwardian London would be like turning up naked nowadays. Couldn't happen, didn't happen.

Correction: No scene in this movie is set in 1912. The scene in question is set in the early 1920's. The Oscar winning costume department did quite a lot of research to produce accurate period attire.

Corrected entry: Harold Abrahams excuses himself during the interval of "The Mikado" to ask out one of the singers. In the previous scene we see him and Liddel watching the "Three Little Girls From School" song being performed - this is part of the second act and appears *after* the interval.

Correction: The "Three Little Girls from School"-trio happens halfway into the first act and thus well before any interval.


Corrected entry: In the closing scene Harold Abrahams is seen arriving at a train station from the Dover Ferry. This should have been London Waterloo, but the station depicted is London Paddington.

Correction: The station is never named. Just because it can be identified as being Paddington in reality doesn't mean it is supposed to be Paddington in the film. Another example of this is that 'Cambridge University' in this film is obviously Eton, as it was the only place they were allowed to film. Not a movie mistake, just a choice of location.

Corrected entry: The parade of the participating nations in the opening ceremony is wrong. The countries march in alphabetical order according to each countries native tongue (ie. regardless of host country's language). Therefore 'Great Britain' would go before 'United States'.

Correction: How could you alphabetize the nations if each one marched under its own name in its own language? The march-in is always alphabetical by the host nation's own language. The official Olympics web site ( has film from the 1924 opening ceremonies showing the nations marching in with their names on signs in French. Thus, Etats Unis came before Grande-Bretagne.

Corrected entry: When Harold and his friends are watching "The Mikado" in the theatre, there is an illuminated exit sign behind them in the balcony. I don't think these were around right after World War I.

Correction: Neon gas was first discovered in 1897 and in 1910, Georges Claude passed an electrical current through a tube of the gas and discovered what we now see as neon signs. The sign industry almost immediately picked up on the discovery and began making signs out of it in the 1910's.

Corrected entry: When the committee is discussing what to do about Eric not running on Sunday, one members calls the Prince of Wales, "David". Unfortunately, that's the actor's name, not the Prince's.

Correction: The Prince of Wales of called "David" because, and this is a quote from a biography of the Prince of Wales, "The eldest son of George V, Edward (known to his family as David)" so that is NOT a mistake in the movie.

Factual error: Another flag gaffe: The Canadian flag in the 1920s was either the red ensign or the Union Jack. The Maple Leaf only became the national flag in 1965.

More mistakes in Chariots of Fire

Master of Trinity: after name which I cannot read. And which we, who are older than you, cannot hear without emotion. Names which will be only names to you, the new college, but to us summon up face after face full of honesty and goodness, zeal and vigor.

More quotes from Chariots of Fire

Trivia: In the film, the 100 meter bronze medalist is a fictional character named Tom Watson. The real medalist was Arthur Porritt of New Zealand, who asked his name not to be used.


More trivia for Chariots of Fire

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