The Sequel to Chariots of Fire: A New Film Starring Joseph Fiennes Tells the Rest of Eric Liddell’s Story


Update: You can rent or purchase this film on Amazon Video.

In 1981, the Oscar-Award-winning Chariots of Fire recounted the true story of Eric Liddell (1902–1945), who refused to run in the heats for the 100-meter race during the 1924 Summer Olympics because they were held on a Sunday, which would have violated his Christian faith. Liddell ended up competing in the 400 meters, held during a weekday, and won the race.

Most people don’t know that Liddell, who was born in China to Scottish missionaries serving with the London Missionary Society, returned to China in 1925 at the age of 23. He died at the age of 43 in a Japanese civilian internment camp in 1945.

In a new film, On Wings of Eagles—which apparently releases today—Joseph Fiennes plays Liddell, portraying the second half of his life.

Information about the film is hard to find online, but here is an description from last year:

“Eric Liddell—China’s first gold medalist and one of Scotland’s greatest athletes—returns to war-torn China.

Film star Joseph Fiennes is to play the devoutly Christian Scottish runner Eric Liddell in a sequel to the multiple Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire.

On Wings of Eagles follows the life of Liddell after the 1924 Paris Olympics, when he won gold in the 400 metres but sacrificed his chance in the 100 metres because he refused to run on the Sabbath.

Joseph Fiennes, son of a Protestant father and Catholic and who is married to a Catholic, has been cast as Liddell in the film, which will include a central story line about his work as a missionary in China, where leading companies have given their backing to the film.

The script is by Chinese writer Stephen Shin, who will also direct alongside Canada’s Michael Parker. “It is not only the perfect movie theme, but it should also make younger generations more aware of their past. All around the world people gradually forget the importance of staying on alert so that dark parts of human history do not repeat themselves,” Shin told the Independent.

Liddell, the son of Rev and Mrs James Dunlop Liddell, was born in China to two Scottish missionary parents in China with the London Missionary Society. He was sent to the UK to be educated from the age of six, where he quickly showed excellence as an athlete and became known as The Flying Scotsman. After he went back to China he married another Christian, Florence Mackenzie, and helped to build an athletics stadium modelled on Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge.

After Japan invaded China in 1937 he was sent to an internment camp in 1943 where he died of a brain tumour in 1945, aged just 43. Many in China, both religious and non-religious, regard him as a hero because of his leadership during his internment as well as because of his sporting prowess.

Fienne’s co-stars will be Xiao Dou and Elizabeth Arends.”

To find theaters playing the movie in its limited release, try going here.

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