Posted on Thursday, June 25th, 2015 by Russ Fischer
I caught the original Vacation on TV over this past weekend, and the scene with the Griswolds arriving at Wally World, constructed as a parody of the beach race from the British film Chariots of Fire, left me wondering about the lasting impact of the great 1981 film.
In 1983, anyone seeing Clark and Rusty Griswold run in slow motion to the tune of a pulsing synthesized score would have recognized the joke, that Clark had elevated his impulsive family vacation to the status of personal myth — a status that the characters in Chariots of Fire earned through real struggle.
Chariots of Fire had been a success both at home and in the US. That synthesizer theme, composed by Vangelis, didn’t just act as a perfect encapsulation of the film’s spirit; it became a hit as a pop single. Now, how many US viewers would link Vacation or any other parody use of the theme to the actual film? As it turns out there might be a chance for a resurgence in visibility for the ’81 film, as a de facto Chariots of Fire sequel is moving towards production, with Joseph Fiennes starring.
The Independent reports that Joseph Fiennes will play Eric Liddell in The Last Race, with a story that follows Liddell after the events of Chariots of Fire, when he became a teacher and missionary in China, eventually being interned in a prison camp by Japanese forces in 1943. (Ian Charleston played Liddell in the original film.)
This new picture is written by Stephen Shin, and co-directed by Shin and Michael Parker.
As for the original theme, I’m left thinking it has achieved the status of being a joke simply on the virtue of its own quality — Vangelis’ synth pulse is perfectly suited to slow-motion footage, and the power of the melody works as ironic comedy when laid against just about any slowed-down footage. It was even a gag in one of the Madagascar movies, where the scene worked as a gag even for kids who have no idea about the reference.
Here’s the Vacation scene.
Sesame Street has parodied it:
Steve Jobs borrowed it:Cool Posts From Around the Web: