London arts scene: 'Chariots of Fire' is back

Sea, sand and "Jerusalem" — once again in Britain.

London Olympic organizers announced plans Friday to remaster "Chariots of Fire," the 1981 Oscar-winning film that opens with a classic scene of British runners churning through waves and sand to the soaring strains of music by Vangelis. The title of the film comes from a refrain in the classic Christian hymn "Jerusalem," which is sung later in the film.

"'Chariots Of Fire' is about guts, determination and belief," said the film's producer, David Puttnam, who hopes the movie will raise spirits just as it did 30 years ago. "At the heart of the film is the quest for Olympic glory, and I find hard to imagine anything more likely to resonate throughout the country this summer."

The film is important in this, an Olympic year, because it celebrates things great in British history and things glorious in its sporting past. Based on a true story, the film traces the fortunes of Eric Liddle and Harold Abrahams, who won gold at the 1924 Paris Olympics despite long odds.

Liddle, who was devoutly religious, caused a stir by refusing to run a qualifying heat for his race specialty because it fell on a Sunday. Abrahams, who was Jewish, faced anti-Semitism.

The film celebrates patriotism and honor and showcases the halycon moment when runners sought victory for king, country and personal glory.

The remaster aims to introduce a new generation of filmgoers to the classic. The release is by 20th Century Fox and the British Film Institute, which provided 150,000 pounds ($237,000) to back the rerelease.

More contemporary films are also getting attention ahead of the Olympics, which take place in London from July 27-Aug. 12.

Special films and screenings include a new movie by the director of an acclaimed documentary on the late Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna.

London-born Asif Kapadia, whose portrait "Senna" won global praise, said his short film, "The Odyssey," will explore the relationship between the British capital and the Olympics.

New films have also been commissioned from directors Mike Leigh, Lynne Ramsay and the duo of Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini.

The films will play across Britain this summer as part of the London 2012 arts festival.