The acclaimed 1981 motion picture, Chariots of Fire, was nominated for seven Academy Awards. It won four, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Music Score. Today, it ranks 19th among the Top 100 British Films.
But when producer David Putnam and director Hugh Hudson had finished editing and scoring the film, they had trouble finding an American motion picture company willing to distribute it. Agents from one company after another turned it down. During one screening of the film an agent excused himself to use the restroom and never returned. Putnam and Hudson began to doubt the quality and worth of their labors. Finally, the sports department head of a TV network agreed to view it as a possible “made for TV sports movie.” However, the TV executive snubbed it as “not good enough for TV” and refused to buy it “at any price.”
Fortunately, executives from The Ladd Company and Warner Bros. Pictures viewed Chariots of Fire. “They loved the picture and treated it like a newborn child,” said David Putnam.
That’s a good thing, because the world loved this film as well. And the movie made millions for its creators and distributors. Worldwide, Chariots of Fire earned more than 25 times the money it cost to produce and continues to be one of the best-loved motion pictures of all time.
Don’t let the criticism and rejection of others get you down.
In retrospect, it was a good thing that Chariots of Fire was rejected as a “made for TV movie.” Though that rejection hurt, it was immensely fortuitous that it did not fall into the hands of those who could not understand or appreciate its timeless message.
But it makes one wonder, “What if David Putnam and Hugh Hudson took to heart all those rejections from ‘the experts?’” They would have second-guessed themselves. They would have sold their masterpiece too cheaply. Finally, they would have shelved it—concealing its inspiring message from the millions who have been encouraged by it.
It also makes me wonder, “What effect do the rejections and berating of others have upon us?” Is their criticism valid or does it simply reflect their personal preferences or, perhaps, their own limited level of growth. The reality is that God has created us all for some divine purpose, to honor his name and to be a blessing to others. Not everyone will appreciate our particular contribution. But that should never deter us from fulfilling God’s plan for our lives. Nor should it make us snuff out the light God has commanded us to shine. Nor should the criticism from a few eclipse the inspiration others will enjoy from our service to humanity. Perhaps the words from an old Sunday School song say it best:
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel, NO! I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Don’t let the criticism and rejection of others get you down. Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world … therefore, let your light shine so that others may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16).
Dear Father in heaven, I believe you made me for a purpose: to help and bless others and to bring honor to Your name. Dear Lord, I know it’s inevitable that criticism and rejection will come, but please help me not to be discouraged by it. Instead let me grow and be productive by it. Amen.
Information from Wings on Their Heels: The Making of Chariots of Fire.