"At Last: The Rest of the Story"
ON WINGS OF EAGLES is the rest of the story of the Eric Liddell, the “Flying Scotsman” who was the fastest runner in the 1924 Olympics, who refused to run on Sunday because of his strong evangelical Christian faith. Eric’s story was first brought to fame in the 1981 movie CHARIOTS OF FIRE.
After the Olympics, Eric was offered many lucrative jobs and marketing opportunities, but instead took a position with a missionary society. He married his beloved wife, Florence, and they moved to China, where Eric taught at schools and proclaimed the Gospel. ON WINGS OF EAGLES is the story for his years in China.
Eric is beloved by the Chinese people he meets, especially the man narrating the story, whose name is Nui. Nui is Eric’s chauffeur and generally his go-to person for getting things done in China. Nui remarks that Eric’s behavior was always exemplary, whereas he would lie, bribe and steal to get things done.
When the Japanese invade in 1937, Eric sends Florence, their two daughters, and their preborn daughter to Canada while he stays on in China. At first, circumstances are difficult, but he’s able to carry on his role as a missionary and teacher. During this period, he protects and adopts a Chinese orphan boy.
After their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese break up a wedding ceremony Eric’s conducting in the Anglican church and haul all the British people off to a concentration camp with the interesting title “The Courtyard of the Happy Way.”
The Japanese are difficult, refusing to do anything that doesn’t serve the Japanese Emperor. Eric is constantly telling them they have no right to interfere with Christian worship, with marriages and with other aspects of Christian life, but the camp’s Japanese commander says the Emperor is God.
The Japanese commander prides himself on being an athlete and challenges Eric to a race. He elevates Eric to a single room and gives him food, which Eric proceeds to give away to the other prisoners. When the day of the race comes, Eric is winning until he falls from malnutrition and exhaustion. When the commander finds out Eric had given away his food, he throws Eric into a cell dug as a pit into the ground. He throws another prisoner who had tried to defend Eric into another cell.
Meanwhile, Nui finds ways to smuggle things into the camp for Eric. He also bribes the guards to turn off the electric fence for 20 minutes so the Chinese boy can sneak into the camp.
When Eric and the other prisoner emerge from their isolation in different pits, their health is severely compromised. The other prisoner devises a way to escape with Nui’s help by submerging himself in one of the barrels where they take out the human feces and urine. When the Japanese find out he’s escaped, they throw the husband named Hugh for who Eric had been performing the wedding in the beginning of the movie into the pit.
As Eric’s health starts to deteriorate, the Japanese become more vicious. Eventually, Eric makes a bargain with the commander that he’ll race him again of he allows some medicine to be brought into the camp. Will Eric be able to win the race with everyone’s survival at stake?
ON WINGS OF EAGLES is very well structured dramatically. The movie is constructed so well and the costuming and set design are so meticulous that it’s one of the better historical movies. There are issues with the audio however that detract some of the scenes. Joseph Fiennes (LUTHER, RISEN) gives one of his best performances yet as Eric Liddell. It’s also very Christian and very evangelistic. Thus, Eric’s Chinese aide learns the meaning of faith. Much of it was shot in China, and the production company is led by Chinese from Hong Kong.
ON WINGS OF EAGLES is a valiant portrayal of a man who lived his life in service to Jesus Christ. Although it is a sad story, it ends on a powerful victorious note. Anyone who sees the movie will experience what true Christianity is. ON WINGS OF EAGLES is fascinating and well worth watching.
Eric Liddell was known as the “Flying Scotsman.” The title for ON WINGS OF EAGLES comes from the sermon preached in CHARIOTS OF FIRE, where Eric cites Isaiah 40:28-31:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
ON WINGS OF EAGLES tells the story of Eric Liddell, the fastest runner in the 1924 Olympics, who refused to run on Sunday because of his Christian faith. After winning the Olympic 400 meters, Eric returns to China with his wife. There, he teaches at schools and proclaims the Gospel. Eric is beloved by the Chinese people, especially the man narrating the story, who’s Eric’s go-to person for getting things done in China. The man says Eric’s behavior is always exemplary, whereas he lies, bribes and steals to get things done. When the Japanese invade in 1937, Eric sends his pregnant wife and daughters to Canada. Eventually, the Japanese put all British people into a concentration camp, where Eric challenges the Japanese commander’s Emperor worship.
ON WINGS OF EAGLES is very well structured. The movie is constructed so well and the costuming and set design are so meticulous that it’s one of the better historical movies. It’s also very Christian and evangelistic. ON WINGS OF EAGLES is a valiant portrayal of a man who lived his life in service to Jesus Christ.