Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Do you remember the film 'Chariots Of Fire'?

The Chinese remember one of its principal characters as a hero.

A British Olympic hero whose story was illustrated in the film Chariots of Fire has been named by a Chinese city as a national hero.

Eric Liddell, who was nicknamed The Flying Scotsman, famously won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris.

He had been due to take part in the 100m but could not because his strong Christian faith prohibited him from running in the heats which fell on a Sunday. He had to choose between his sport and religious beliefs - and retrained to win the 400m.

Imprisoned in an internment camp by the Japanese in World War Two, Liddell is viewed by many Chinese as a hero for his sporting prowess and acts of benevolence while in a japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Liddell was born in Tianjin, the city in northeastern China which was recently hit with massive explosions.

He was educated in Britain, but returned to China as missionary. He chose to stay on and continue his work even after Japan's invasion of China in 1941, despite having the opportunity to flee.

He was interned at a camp in Weifang, south of Tianjin - and it is here that a statue of Liddell has been unveiled.

The camp was liberated 70 years ago, and as the statue was revealed, some survivors of the camp were present, as were his daughters.

. . .

Winston Churchill had organised for Liddell's release from the internment camp, but he instead gave his ticket to a pregnant woman who was also in the camp.

He also smuggled medical supplies through barbed wire and helped to educate internees. His family fled the country in 1941 for Canada.

Liddell died in the camp in February 1945 of a brain tumour.

Liddell's family say that his strength and benevolence were forged by his Christianity - and his decision to stay even after the invasion by Japan made him into a cult figure in China.

There's more at the link.

Eric Liddell seems to have been a remarkable man in many ways, not least for living out his Christian faith in such exemplary terms while imprisoned.  Ten years ago, a fellow inmate recalled his example.

For many of the children, nearly all separated from their parents, Liddell became a father figure. As well as teaching classes, he ran a Sunday school and organised sports competitions.

He eventually came round to the idea of sports on Sundays, refereeing football matches after hearing that teenagers with little to do were getting into trouble.

"He gave me two things," Mr Metcalf said. "One was his worn-out running shoes." It was winter, and like many boys Mr Metcalf had nothing to wear on his feet.

"The best thing he gave me was his baton of forgiveness. He taught me to love my enemies, the Japanese, and to pray for them."

After the war, Mr Metcalf spent 40 years as a missionary teacher in Japan.

Again, more at the link.

A memorial to Eric Liddell (shown below) stands on the grounds of the prison camp where he died.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

I was interested to see that a Chinese company plans to produce a sequel to 'Chariots Of Fire'.  There's no information about what it will cover, but since it's of Chinese origin, I hope it'll show Eric Liddell's work there, and his quiet heroism as a prisoner of the Japanese.

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.

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.

. . .

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.

More at the link.

That's a movie I'll look forward to seeing.  The original was, of course, a superb movie in its own right, so any sequel will have to meet a very high standard.  I wish them luck.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Inspiring *cough* sorry had to clear a lump in my throat.

(Anonymous because where I live, reading a moderate RKBA blog counts as proof that one is an ultra right wing dangerous extremist -- and if brought to the attention of employers, can get you fired as quickly as for placing a "Like" on the wrong FB post.)