Hugh Hudson, director of the triumphant sports classic Chariots of Fire, is dead at the age of 86. In a statement to The Guardian, his family said he “died at Charing Cross hospital on 10th February after a short illness.”
A longtime director of commercials, Hudson made the leap to films with the 1981 feature-length documentary Fangio: Una vita a 300 all’ora, covering the Formula One champion Juan Manuel Fangio. That same year he released Chariots of Fire, a historical drama about two athletes, one Christian and one Jewish, who made an unlikely connection at the 1924 Olympics. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including for Best Picture, while the stirring score by Vangelis remains one of the defining soundtracks of sports cinema.
Nigel Havers, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for playing Lord Andrew Lindsay, said, “I am beyond devastated that my great friend Hugh Hudson, who I have known for more than 45 years, has died. Chariots of Fire was one of the greatest experiences of my professional life, and, like so many others, I owe much of what followed to him. I shall miss him greatly.”
Hudson continued to direct commercials following Chariots of Fire, as well documentaries like Rupture: Living with My Broken Brain and a segment of the anthology Lumière and Company. Among his 15 films, he also helmed a Tarzan adaptation called Greystroke and several period dramas, including 1985’s Revolution with Al Pacino, 2000’s I Dreamed of Africa starring Kim Basinger, and the 2016 Antonio Banderas vehicle Finding Altamira.