Eric Liddell, the Olympic gold medalist whose physical feats and spiritual convictions were profiled in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire, was a Christian missionary who bypassed fame to return to China after wining the gold. On Wings of Eagles, releasing Nov. 3, stars Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love, Risen) as Liddell during the latter part of his life.
In the middle of the Japanese invasion of China during World War II, Liddell sends his family away to Canada while he stays behind to minister to civilian victims and is later confined to an interment camp as a prisoner. Through it all, those who remember Liddell reported how his love and joy were present even through the suffering.
Stephen Shin, a prolific Chinese director (The Source of Love, Brotherhood, Heart to Hearts) and a Christian believer, spent more than 10 years trying to tell the final arc of Liddell’s life, all the while enduring cultural and religious barriers.
“At the beginning, I wanted to make a documentary about Eric,” Shin said. “But you know that’s so difficult to have a film or documentary about Christians or missionaries in China.”
Before long, however, Shin had received funding, from both Christians and non-Christians, helping him finally put his dream project together. It’s a project he believes can inspire those of faith and those who need it.
“The movie does not only serve the purpose of Christians,” he said. “We want to let the general audience can feel about the great work done by Eric Liddell and how he showed his love. He was a Christian and his life showed the love of God. So that everyone can know in difficult and hard times, they can show the love of God and people can overcome difficulties in their lives. My wish people can share the message in this movie.”
The director also praised the work of Joseph Fiennes, who added his own input into the making of the film. Knowing Liddell’s convictions about abstaining from alcohol use, Fiennes also requested no drinking on set and references to alcohol were removed from the script.
“We wrote our script and removed wine from the movie,” Shin said. “It was very serious to him. To know the character and give us so much good advice, it was so amazing.”
On Wings of Eagles will release to theaters and VOD outlets on Nov. 3. Click here for more information about the film.