There is an enduring fascination with sports dating back to the earliest civilisations, formed of our natural appreciation for athletic abilities and competitiveness. Stories about sporting achievements capture the imagination, especially when telling of heroic performances or overcoming the odds, defying expectations through sheer force of will or determination.
One thing about sports is that every event has a story to tell, which probably explains the popularity of sports wagering amongst fans, providing added entertainment and a sense of participation. Of course, it always helps find reviews for the top betting sites available, thanks to trusted analysis and information provided by SBO, whose experts identify trusted bookmakers and provide advice covering what to look for.
Much of what attracts us to sporting stories is learning about the protagonists, what makes them tick and what motivates them, along with the drama surrounding their lives and the unfolding successes or failures. Showcasing amazing stories and truly memorable characters, these are three unmissable silver screen tales themed around sports, demanding our attention and keeping us captivated throughout.
Chariots of Fire (1981)
While there were certain liberties taken regarding historical accuracy, mostly for dramatic effect within the plot, the story focuses on the amazing true story of two real-life British athletes and their Olympic aspirations. But the driving theme for Chariots of Fire is a tale about achieving victory through self-sacrifice and morale courage, making it a compelling human story about competitive sports in a bygone era.
Featuring an all-star cast of British actors, the movie is accompanied by one of the most famous and unforgettable movie soundtracks, composed by Vangelis, who chose synthesizer instrumentals despite the period setting of the story. This production was also nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
The story told is that of Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who sees running as his way to overcome prejudices, along with Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God. They face many trials and tribulations on their path to competing at the 1924 Olympics, where they finally encounter the success their efforts and sporting determination merited, sharing a competitive rivalry and growing companionship along the way.
Raging Bull (1980)
Despite an initial reluctance to develop the project, Raging Bull has gone on to become a cult classic for director Martin Scorsese, along with being one of the most iconic roles played by Robert De Niro as boxer Jake LaMotta. While the box office reception was rather lukewarm at the time, compared to more popular productions led by Scorsese, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won two, including Best Film Editing and Best Actor for De Niro.
But while this movie certainly touches on the success of LaMotta, his achievements in the ring are fuelled by a self-destructive personality and obsessive rage, portrayed brilliantly by De Niro. Indeed, his performance and the brutally dark nature of the story actually gained high critical praise, as we uncomfortably view the life of this fascinating boxer.
Retrospectively, Raging Bull went on to earn the appreciation it perhaps didn’t quite achieve upon initial release, eventually rated as one of the 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time, according to the American Film Institute. Often underappreciated as a sportsman, largely due to his tribulations outside the ring and the popularity of other boxers at the time, LaMotta is also now recognised as one of the ten greatest middleweights of all time.
Escape to Victory (1981)
While the previous two movies were based on factual sporting achievements, the story of Escape to Victory is entirely fictitious within a Second World War setting, albeit apparently inspired by historic events involving a football team from the occupied Ukrainian city of Kyiv. What’s more, this motion picture actually featured professional sportsmen in many of the leading roles, which is actually quite novel for a cinematic release.
Directed by Hollywood legend John Huston, the plot revolves around a group of Allied prisoners of war, who form a football team while interned in a prisoner of war camp in Germany. Michael Caine coaches the team as John Colby, the fictional England captain and West Ham United player before the war. He is aided by Sylvester Stallone as Robert Hatch, an American serving with the Canadian army, aiming to formulate an escape plan.
Also starring is perhaps one of the most iconic football talents of all time, Brazilian star Pele, who produced one of the most memorable scenes in the movie with a spectacular overhead kick. Indeed, this scene is used to excellent effect, symbolic of how appreciation for sporting skill can overcome even the most intense rivalries, as the German commandant played by Max von Sydow rises to his feet in applause, much to the consternation of his fellow officers.